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Augmented reality glasses

Augmented reality glasses

Augmented reality glasses include any eyewear or, in some cases, headwear that offers users enriched details about their environment and even allows users to interact with virtual and real worlds.


Augmented reality (AR), unlike virtual reality, is not limited to a specific device but has been tested and developed on various devices. Among these devices, augmented reality glasses have the most potential for adoption and use in consumer, enterprise, and industrial applications. AR glasses allow users to interact with real and virtual worlds, which is done through high-level imaging and sensing technologies that superimpose elements, images, videos, and 3D holograms, among other things, to enhance the wearer's experience. To create this enriched view, the AR glasses require interacting systems such as cameras or head-mounted display sensors capable of scanning and capturing natural scenes of the user's environment and enriching that environment through virtual elements often personal to the user.

What is augmented reality?

For a long time, augmented reality was something of science fiction, and the idea of augmented reality glasses was something similar to what was seen in movies from the 1980s and 1990s, such as Terminator and RoboCop. Characters in these films were fed necessary information about their environment and the people in that environment through overlays of data that allow them to make better decisions. This functionality is what AR glasses work to achieve, as well as hands-free manipulation of the environment.

More traditionally, augmented reality can be achieved through computers, tablets, or smartphones and offers an enhanced version of the real world through the use of digital elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli. One of the most popular examples and implementations of augmented reality is the smartphone game Pokémon GO, which immerses players in their world but includes digital creatures that can be caught and later battled against each other.

Augmented reality and glasses

Augmented reality (AR) glasses offer the same or similar, if not enhanced, functionality of other augmented technologies but in the shape of glasses. Often the information is projected on the lenses of the glasses, placing that information in the wearer's real environment that the wearer can control through voice or gesture controls. The functionality of a given pair of AR glasses depends on the intended use case. For example, glasses designed for a consumer may have integrations with social media and smart assistants to keep the consumer connected, while a pair of glasses designed for a warehouse or logistics operation may include an RF scanner and warehouse mapping. Examples of the kind of functionality companies are working on include the following:

  • With the integration of a microphone, AR glasses can communicate with smart assistants for voice-controlled searches, and the results can appear before the user's eyes.
  • Using simulated localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms, AR glasses can gauge the area around the wearer so the wearer can control the images they see with hand gestures.
  • Having message alerts that appear in the wearer's field of view that can be noted and dismissed without interruption or the wearer pulling out their phone.
  • With integrated GPS technology, virtual arrows can float into view and help the wearer find their way.

Example of a service professional using AR glasses to get remote assistance.

AR glasses are seen as being developed in two distinct paths: AR for social applications and collaborative technologies for professionals. The former is more distinctly understood as smartglasses, often with limited functionality, while the latter is on a steeper development curve and seeing adoption across various industries to help work in various places. For example, a professional in design, field service, or other collaborative and primarily visual fields could have their work changed and freed up to work almost anywhere. Companies like Microsoft and RealWear are capitalizing on this trend, developing AR glass platforms that have a variety of applications and professional use cases.

Meanwhile, Google has worked on AR glasses since 2013 and has focused its development on features such as language translation that provide consumers tangible value. The company's strides in other AR systems, such as its phones, search, and Lens imaging system, suggest many of these functionalities could be carried over to the company's glasses, with its focus on practical utility. This new focus, which is understood as a move away from floating dinosaurs or magic experiences, is seen as a push in the industry from impractical but fun experiences to turning the wearable glasses into a desired and function-focused product, still capable of delivering those magical experiences if the wearer wishes. Similarly, Beijing-based Nreal has developed AR glasses that offload the computation to the smartphone through a cable, allowing the glasses to look similar to sunglasses. They are working to develop a practical and entertainment-capable product with little to no lag, thanks to the offboard computation.

Example of Google's real-time translation with AR glasses.

Google and Qualcomm also have efforts towards developing AR glasses with simplified operations that rely on smartphones for their computation, offering AR glasses advanced operations without the need for bulky headgear or, as Nreal uses, cables. This can also increase the battery life of AR glasses without needing large or interchangeable battery packs. Despite many of these proposed solutions suffering from a lack of seamless flow from the phone to the glasses, there is a promise based on Google and Android's investment in ambient technology that works to increase the flow between applications and services between services such as speakers, screens, and watches. AR glasses can fit into this picture as well.

AR glasses versus smartglasses

AR glasses and smartglasses are often confused as the same thing. Smartglasses are considered similar to other wearable devices capable of offering useful information to the wearer, such as a text messages, heart rate, name of an incoming phone call, and turn-by-turn directions. With smart glasses, these functions occur through a head-mounted heads-up display (HUD), and the information is usually projected onto the lenses of the glasses. In many cases, AR glasses are seen as the end goal of the development of smartglasses, while the form of smartglasses (smaller, compact, and sleek) are the goal of AR glasses, as that form factor is expected to lead to greater consumer adoption.

Example of the merge of real and digital worlds in AR glasses.

Whereas AR glasses go further than being simple head-mounted HUDs. Their primary function is an augmented reality display offering digital information presented as if it exists in reality. This means smartglasses cannot formally be considered AR glasses until the glasses are capable of sensing the world around the wearer to present information as if it is present in reality, not just projected onto a transparent screen. This higher level of computation requires a bulkier glasses system. They are often referred to as "glasses" as often as they are "AR headsets," creating more confusion between the terms. This confusion will grow as the industry develops AR headsets small enough to be considered glasses and smartglasses that are sufficient to be considered AR glasses.

Industry confusion

Part of the confusion between AR glasses and smartglasses, as explored above, is down to the companies developing the products and conflating the terms. As early as the introduction of the Google Glass, the terms were used interchangeably, even though the Google Glass was best understood as smartglasses. The confusion can also stem from consumers' lack of interaction with augmented reality, which means when reading about AR glasses or smartglasses, an individual may be unable to distinguish between competing descriptions conflating the terms.

The confusion has led to a proliferation of other terms used to describe AR glasses, which has compounded the confusion. Media reporting has conflated the terms AR glasses and smartglasses and has led to some companies repurposing terms to distinguish their AR glasses from consumer smart glasses; popular among these terms are "holographic," "mixed reality," "merged reality," and even "extended reality."

Augmented reality glasses' key capabilities

Augmented reality glasses are considered a part of the increasing portfolio of smart connected products (SCPs). The spread of these devices allows AR glasses to monitor product operations and conditions in real time, control and customize product operations remotely, and optimize product performance using real-time data. In some cases, intelligence and connectivity allow SCPs to be autonomous, while AR glasses magnify the value created by those capabilities. Some of the key capabilities AR glasses could provide users include the following:

  • Visualize—AR applications can provide a kind of x-ray vision to reveal internal features otherwise difficult to see, which can increase the efficiency of technicians or healthcare providers and, given the number and type of sensors on a piece of machinery, see representations of the machines working and how they can be repaired.
  • Instruct and guide—AR is already redefining instruction, training, and coaching, and AR glasses promise to provide another step in this evolution—moving from 2D schematic representations of a procedure in a manual to 3D holograms that can walk a user through the necessary processes. This leaves little to the imagination or interpretation.
  • Interact—AR glasses and SCPs also suggest the end of physical controls and touchscreen controls, allowing users with AR glasses to increase the user interface and offer a virtual control panel operated through gestures or voice controls from the AR glasses. This would allow a worker to walk a line of factory machines, see their performance parameters, and adjust machines without touching them or even coming near them, increasing the efficiency of managing these machines.
  • Enhance decision making—By offering increased access to information and offering that information in real time, AR glasses can reduce the overall cognitive load on an individual by putting the relevant information in a given context to the user in their face, without them having to refer to other devices or distract their attention away from a given task, thereby increasing the worker's focus and increasing the wearer's contextual information and necessary information when faced with a given decision.
Challenges of developing AR glasses
Consumer appeal

While the interest and potential applications for AR glasses continue to expand, the challenges in developing AR glasses have seen the physical implementation of the glasses not keep pace with the flowering applications. One of the most popular failures in the development of AR glasses was the Google Glass, which was initially released in 2013 and was off the market a few years later. Part of the failure of this product was attributed to the look of the glasses, which many felt were ugly and clunky. since then, there have been other, similar products, which have been developed but focused on enterprise use, where their appearance would not impact sales as much, while much of the consumer market has seen the introduction of smart glasses such as Facebook and RayBan's collaboration and Snap Inc.'s Spectacles. These smart glasses have offered slim bodies with "natural" eyeglass looks, rather than the necessary technology required to merge the real and virtual, such as the battery power, chips, boards, and necessary onboard computation which creates the larger AR glasses.

On-board computation

The necessary computation and processor speed for AR glasses is demanding, with a need for processors to be small, lightweight, and power-efficient so they can be placed in an eyewear frame that is comfortable for a user to wear. Further, they need to be able to respond to real-time stimuli in a meaningful way, so any necessary information a user may want or need in regard to their physical environment is displayed almost immediately, rather than after a few seconds delay, at which point the wearer may have moved on to other stimuli.The glasses also require eye-tracking capabilities and reliable voice and gesture recognition, which on their own are difficult and can be costly in terms of battery consumption and heat production.

This process has been described as fitting a supercomputer in the lens of glasses. And some solutions have involved hand-off of the computation to a nearby device, such as a smartphone through a Bluetooth connection or a cloud compute scenario (although the network and processing speed in the latter example could create too costly time delays). Either scenario requires powerful connectivity speeds and processing speed in order to respond to the stimuli the glasses are looking at. This kind of hand-off increases any delay, as it increases the steps involved and could be an interim solution until the necessary onboard processors can reach the necessary speeds to have the glasses compute for themselves.

Tracking challenges

Another challenge to developing AR glasses is the ability to track the user's viewpoint, especially to make content appear to be fixed in space. This would allow a user to look at specific items and receive information about them, but when the user looks away, have the information disappear in a way to make it, in part, look fixed around that object. There have been a few concepts to solve this problem, such as using mechanical and ultrasonic trackers to measure where the user's head is and render virtual imagery from that same position. Another has been tracking the user's viewpoint without knowing visual features such as vision-based SLAM tracking with GPS and inertial sensors that can be combined for a more robust result. This is another challenge that is being handed off to cloud computing, where features captured by a user's device are uploaded to the cloud and fused to provide a ubiquitous tracking service.

Network security and bandwidth

Many of the above challenges are solved through cloud-hosted services, which allow the AR glasses to remain smaller in design with longer battery life but require uninterrupted bandwidth and coverage for the AR devices to work. And there are environments where AR glasses are worn or could be worn, where the availability of reliable WiFi or related networks are limited, which require more robust solutions for offline functionality to make the AR glasses more usable. However, even in the case where a network is available and robust, there is a need for both device and network to have high-security standards, especially in sensitive environments where proprietary information could be misplaced over an unsecured network or device. These security challenges are shared by other wearable and smart devices in the market.

Use Cases
The value proposition for industries

When used in the right setting, AR glasses have important advantages over computers, tablets, and other existing technology: contextualized information, increased workflow standardization, hands-free assistance, and documentation. They offer a hands-free approach to perform work by providing data and virtual instructions; the latter offer increased standardization to workflows in industries with seasonal labor changes or to rapidly changing tasks.

Through audio and video capabilities, AR glasses allow workers to collaborate with each other and seek assistance from each other on complex issues. Workers are also able to summon interactive on-demand training videos, which can be overlaid on the environment and offer the user real-time step-by-step instruction. That type of on-demand instruction can be especially useful in industries facing aging workforces and knowledge loss.

AR glasses can also capture video of an employee performing job duties, which can be archived and used as evidence during inspections to improve standardization and to prove necessary or regulated steps were followed. This can increase the speed at which detailed quality examinations can be performed, and can be used to standardize quality and safety workflows while making the information hands-free.

Device comparison for industries

Part of the value proposition for AR glasses for different industries is based on the devices themselves and ensuring an organization selects the best device based on their use case. This involves various considerations:

  • Display—The display of AR glasses can be variously equipped, such as holographic lenses to show things in 3D, while the cameras mounted on AR glasses can impact what the glasses are capable of seeing and transmitting, either to scan or for a remote expert to evaluate.
  • Ergonomics—The weight of a headset is an important consideration as any technician or employee wearing the glasses will suffer some kind of fatigue when wearing them for longer periods of time. The comfort of different AR glasses is often the most compared feature of devices.
  • Battery life—There are significant differences in terms of battery life between different devices, which impact how useful the AR glasses will be per implementation. To get around this limitation, some devices offer different choices for external batteries or quick switching of batteries.
  • Price—The price of a specific unit will also make a difference, as some AR glasses are twice as expensive as a competitor unit without providing twice the functionality.
AR glasses in education

People learn differently, and AR can help people based on their preferred learning style, such as visual learning, auditory learning, and kinesthetic learning. But no one style applies to every person, which makes it important to offer several approaches to learning and solving tasks to help learners reach their full potential. Students often encounter trouble in school because they are expected to learn in the same way, despite the differences, and AR glasses can offer new individuated methods of learning. AR glasses can also offer teachers various benefits. Overall, AR in education can offer:

  • Accessible learning materials—Materials are available anytime, anywhere. Augmented reality could replace textbooks, physical models, posters, and printed manuals while offering portable and less expensive learning materials increasing the accessibility and mobility of education.
  • Higher student engagement—Interactive, gamified AR learning can help keep students engaged through lessons and help make learning fun and effortless.
  • Improved collaboration capabilities—AR offers opportunities to diversify and shake up boring classes with interactive lessons that involve students in the learning process and improve teamwork skills.
  • Effective learning process—AR can help students also achieve better results in education through visualization and immersion in subject matter, offering students the possibility of seeing theory in practice rather than reading about something.
Upskilling and job training

Similar to education, AR glasses offer a chance to develop hands-on training without access to real-life machinery, which can be a difficult part of employee training. AR glasses can provide employees with necessary instructions regarding safety procedures and the tasks that they are unfamiliar with.

The US military has already conducted tests with AR glasses to provide more immersive training for soldiers, while also offering the military the ability, during training, to keep track of a military personnel's heartrate and a more in-depth understanding of the soldier's behavior. And the AR glasses have been used for training in the medical and pharmacy industry to perform diagnoses of the body, training sessions for making incisions and dissections, and provide feedback to students and professionals.

AR glasses in healthcare

AR glasses have been adopted into healthcare settings with several early applications, including hands-free photo and video documentation, electronic health record retrieval and input, rapid diagnostic test analysis, education, and live broadcasting. As telemedicine increases, the use of AR glasses can be used to bring up records on demand, interact with and share data with wearables for patients, and collect key health data, either in-person or remotely, which could increase the efficiency of doctors with patients and allow doctors to see more patients in a day.

Hospitals can also benefit from AR glasses, as they would be able to streamline many hospital functions, such as the transfer of patient documents, which can improve a doctor's performance and the overall quality of patient care. As well, AR glasses can make deciphering a doctor's handwriting obsolete, reduce the necessity of having experts travel to patients, allow doctors to annotate see-what-I-see videos to share key findings, and complement other technologies used in hospitals, even providing key alerts for different patients and allowing for more seamless communication among hospital staff and doctors.

Increased accessibility

AR glasses also offer a chance to increase the accessibility of healthcare to regions where reaching a hospital or having a physician or doctor travel to a patient can limit their overall ability to do their job. AR glasses can bring a physician, doctor, or specialist to a patient in seconds and allow them to provide specialized healthcare regardless of where a patient lives. Other examples of use cases of AR glasses in healthcare include the following:

  • Augmented monitoring—Physicians can perform patient rounds or surgery and enable remote expert colleagues, residents, or students to see what they're seeing and hear and offer feedback. It could similarly be used for grounds or could be used to aid a technician in repair or maintenance of medical equipment and IT infrastructure.
  • Vein visualization—AR glasses are being used to help nurses and doctors visualize a patient's veins, through heat signatures and mapping those onto the patient's skin to make it easier for healthcare workers to find a vein on the first try.
  • Surgical visualization—medical imaging processing combined with 3D AR visualization enables orthopedic surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures more accurately through three-dimensional representations of a patient's internal anatomy in the surgeon's field of view.
  • Surgical planning—AR glasses and AI imaging can enable physicians to visualize the patient's anatomy holographically to result in a more detailed vision of the body's architecture than is possible than more traditional 2D scans.
  • Data and image access—A provider can use AR glasses to call up x-rays, test results, anatomical guides, or historical skin lesion images without averting their eyes or attention from a patient or a surgical field.
Increased documentation

Another advantage of AR glasses is they can allow users to access relevant information without interrupting their work. In healthcare settings, this can help a physician, nurse, or doctor provide more relevant care more quickly through accessible necessary data or documentation. However, AR glasses can also offer a chance for an attending physician to take better and more standardized documentation, including recording a patient's physical complaints, taking pictures of a patient's body without contact, and providing notes. These could be better disseminated through staffing and for follow-up shifts to ensure information is transferred to essential parties as needed.

AR glasses could also provide automated performance documentation. Similar to other industries where quality checks are required, AR glasses could provide automated checks to ensure employees follow the appropriate practices and standards. This could also take a burden off of nursing staff as they would be able to automate their documentation of services provided through the AR glasses.

AR in psychology

AR glasses have also been suggested, similar to VR, to treat types of phobias. Treatment of some phobias requires exposure to what the patient is anxious about, and this can be hard to achieve. AR glasses offer a safe and often more accessible way of achieving exposure. The patient can participate in a relatively safe environment and be exposed to their phobia in a way that could lessen the patient's phobia over time. Although, as the patient is braver in simulated situations, they would at some point have to expose themselves to the real-world phobia, but with the new memories from the simulated exposure can help combat the phobia and influence of older memories.

AR glasses in warehousing and logistics

AR glasses have been suggested for use in warehousing and logistics chains. Especially in warehousing, these glasses could help workers in picking, displaying step-by-step instructions in the worker's field of view, and offering "pick-by-vision" solutions that could display the necessary information in the worker's field of view. This could include highlighting the specific item in a warehouse that needs to be picked, offering directions to the specific item, offering hands-free scanning of the item as it is picked, and provide confirmation of packaging once it has reached its destination. This could be done through gestures or voice commands, but some are suggesting the glasses could have automated systems to aid pickers in these cases.

By eliminating the time that is otherwise used for a worker to stop and read a device screen, enter key data, or handle a scanner, AR glasses-enabled picking could create a more efficient picking process. They could increase worker safety, as different AR glasses could communicate to each other, log potential hazards in the warehouse, allow workers to highlight concerns, and flag the wearer when the activity they are engaging in is unsafe.

AR glasses in manufacturing

Manufacturers are also investing more in human-and-machine interaction, with leading manufacturers continuing to increase their automation to handle simple, repetitive tasks and track data. However, in most manufacturing, manual processes remain important and relevant, with many of those manual tasks becoming increasingly complex and requiring workers to be increasingly agile to work variation. This requires workers to deal with more complex problem solving and the ability to connect these workers with augmentation, data, and related solutions can empower and increase the efficiency and productivity of these workers. AR glasses offer this connection, can track manual processes, increase a new understanding of a company's operations, and provide workers with guidance for work they are not used to doing, while also keeping those workers safer.

AR glasses can also record manufacturing work to help reduce the need for inspections and to verify proper steps and procedures were taken in the manufacturing process. This kind of system can also provide snapshots with integrated 3D vision cameras and machine learning for added assurance. Augmented reality displays in glasses can allow workers to see the necessary information as they need, which can increase the ergonomics of the workspace for workers, as they do not necessarily need to stoop or reach to find screens with the knowledge they require.

AR glasses in maintenance and repair

Often there are more machines than there are qualified maintenance and repair technicians. This could include repairs for difficult machines such as nuclear reactors (or related systems) and medical technologies (such as x-ray or MRI machines). AR glasses offer technicians the ability to not only view inside the machinery but also to perform repairs without needing to dismantle the object. Data generated from technicians wearing AR glasses could help companies recognize potential faults and breakdowns, increasing the efficiency of service calls or even reducing those calls overall.

As well, rather than companies requiring highly skilled technicians to come out to maintain or repair a piece of equipment, increasing the downtime of a machine, AR glasses would allow the company to hire a more local and potentially lower-skilled technician to the site to resolve the problem instead. These technicians would wear AR glasses to receive the necessary documentation and guidance to fix the machine, even using a remote high-skilled technician to guide them through the repair without the highly skilled technician needing to travel.

AR glasses and marketing

Augmented reality has already changed the boundaries of traditional marketing and created new experiences in marketing. AR glasses offer opportunities to revolutionize marketing, product engagement, and customer experience. AR glasses can allow customers to visualize products and create an immersive experience to allow customers to engage with their products before they have purchased them, potentially reducing return rates, boosting sales, and strengthening customer relationships.

AR glasses can also use persistent anchors, such as buildings, to offer content and ad locations to wearers with AR glasses, allowing users to navigate through the streets while also receiving personalized AR ads as they walk around the city. For example, if a wearer is going on their lunch, they could receive advertisements to popular lunch spots and coffee shops, or a user can receive ads for grocery stores at the end of their work day. Similarly, utilizing data analytics, when they walk past a specific wall or bus stop with ad space, the AR glasses can be used to host thousands of ads on the same billboards, and non-competing companies would no longer need to bid for the same ad space but can virtually exist on the same wall or billboard. These glasses could also translate ads in other languages to allow users to see personalized ads in various locations.

Holographic advertising

AR glasses could also allow for new types of advertising, such as ads appearing out of thin air, offering 3D and holographic experiences, with engaging and game-like experiences, and create better impressions than boards, TV ads, or city-lights. This could increase the emotional level and establish a stronger connection between the viewer and the brand. By moving advertising to the AR space, brands could place the ads where they can have the most effect and only target the wearers who are, based on user data, more likely to positively engage with these kinds of advertisements.

AR glasses in the defense industry

Virtual and augmented reality glasses are being used increasingly in the armed forces to more easily work remotely and to support remote training and maintenance. These glasses have also been used as a way of storing and exploring documents and mission-critical software that can assist servicemembers in areas with no internet connection.

This has led some to consider the military, especially the US Armed Forces, as one of the first industries to fully realize the many different use cases for AR glasses. In the defense industry, AR glasses have been used in manufacturing, engineering, remote assistance, soldier collaboration, and as part of training and upskilling for soldiers. They have also been used to enhance a soldier's situational awareness and reaction time. As part of this, in 2021, the US Army awarded Microsoft a contract to build custom augmented reality headsets to enable soldiers to fight, rehearse, and train in a single system.

AR for Drones

Operated remotely, drones have proved invaluable tools for military operations, and with the right AR technology and AR glasses, drones offer the potential for object recognition and sophisticated tracking systems of people, objects, and military vehicles. MIlitary drone data feeds could identify suspicious enemy movements with additional images, text, or marks to give soldiers greater situational intelligence with further contextual information similar to a Google street map.

AR for pilots

Training pilots is important, and military planes are costly, while pilots benefit from being trained in AR and VR before ever flying an actual plane. Also, with an AR-assisted 3D overlay, pilots can visualize navigation systems, work with air-traffic control, experience weather conditions, and even understand the terrain, giving the pilot greater contextual information and upgrading the traditional HUD system. AR glasses or headsets can also assist pilots in take-off and landing procedures. AR glasses can also be used for aircraft ground maintenance crews and increasing their efficiency and productivity.

AR for the Navy

Navies have unique requirements, often including a lack of access to networks while still wishing to have the benefits of AR glasses. For example, bridge officers keep watch on the ship and keep the ship on course, and traditionally, these officers request information via radio to verify what they physically see. This system is inefficient when a bridge officer could use AR glasses to receive the same information without needing to call anyone, reducing their workload and keeping them focused on the safety of the ship. Radar operators, sonar operators, and deck gunnery teams could also use the AR technology to increase their efficiency.

AR for armed forces

Because warfare is evolving, armies, especially frontline soldiers, have to keep up and look for opportunities to get ahead of their enemies. With the expanding possibilities of AR glasses, they could provide soldiers with more data and combat information to make the soldier's view look more like a first-person shooter game. This could include various types of data, and multiple solutions have been suggested, including the following:

  • Tactical augmented reality (TAR)—This is similar to the heads-up displays used in aircraft, capable of showing a soldier their location on a battlefield, the location of allied and enemy forces, and connecting to a thermal sight on the weapon to allow soldiers to aim their rifles without direct line-of-sight. Further, the TAR system has a wireless network that allows soldiers to share information among squad members and input data to changing conditions on the battlefield.
  • HUD 3.0—Similar to TAR, HUD 3.0 offers similar capabilities as TAR, including aiming enhancements, navigation improvement, and virtual training. The system also has an aiming reticle wirelessly linked to the rifle to show a soldier what they are aiming at, offering substantial improvements to the soldier's accuracy. It also offers overlapping views of digital terrain, obstacles, and virtual foes, allowing soldiers to participate in war games without incurring the cost involved in traditional war games.
  • Synthetic training environment (STE)—Traditional training struggles to replicate and ready soldiers for real combat and related stresses. However, AR systems such as STE work to train soldiers in more immersive ways, putting them into more physically and mentally stressful operational environments, with one of the project's key objectives to create a training option allowing commanders to establish adaptive units with a higher readiness level.

Another application of AR glasses has been in the development of the CV90 battle station, a tank that uses AR glasses with 360-degree images in real time to allow troops inside to see what is occurring outside, as if they were moving in a transparent box. The AR headset can overlay additional information for better situational awareness.

AR for military dogs
Military working dog wearing AR glasses.

Military working dogs often scout areas for hazards, such as explosive devices, and assist in rescue operations. But giving the necessary commands for dogs to perform these tasks can place the soldier in harm's way. However, augmented reality glasses offer a chance to change this. One such project, through the Small Business Innovation Research Program and managed by the Army Research Office, has provided working dogs with augmented reality goggles that give the dog's handler a chance to give the dog specific directional commands. This allows the handler to be within sight of the dog and allows the handler to maintain audio communication to help direct the canine and offer greater protection for the dog in inclement conditions and aerial deployments. According to Dr. Stephen Lee, an ARO senior scientist working on the project:

The military working dog community is very excited about the potential of this technology. This technology really cuts new ground and opens up possibilities that we haven't considered yet.

Augmented reality glasses manufacturers


Further Resources


4 best AR glasses 2022: Pro-level AR and XR headsets


March 3, 2022

5 Challenges that Providers of Smart Glasses Must Overcome


May 17, 2018

6 Uses of Augmented Reality for Manufacturing In Every Industry - LightGuide


February 23, 2022

Augmented reality glasses in use -- Jasoren



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