Epson has unveiled a significant upgrade to its Moverio smart eyewear device with the BT-2000, following on from the BT-200 model we covered last year. Like its predecessor, the BT-2000 is focused on business use, offering a variety of augmented-reality apps for professional users.

The integrated camera gets a bump to 5 megapixels and now includes 3D depth sensing, while its AR capabilities are boosted further with the addition of an inertial measurement unit (IMU) for more-accurate head tracking. The display has been brightened up and the unit now supports voice control even without an active Wi-Fi connection. That all should mean a clearer display for the wearer and more accurate AR capabilities. 

The software running on the BT-2000 eyewear is based on Android, and Epson says the device is going on sale in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Japan and the U.S. this fall.

It doesn’t look like Epson has done much work on the look of the headset—but then it doesn’t necessarily need to. Google Glass courted fashion leaders to help try and make its smart wearable more stylish, and yet it still ended up as the wearable no one wanted to be seen wearing. Epson knows its potential audience isn’t too concerned about outward appearances.

And perhaps that’s where AR eyewear like this has to focus, at least to begin with—on practical workplace scenarios where users won’t actually mind having an unwieldy gadget strapped to their face.

Business As Usual

The new Moverio BT-2000.

Epson reels off manufacturing, logistics, maintenance and education as areas where it hopes the BT-2000 might get traction. You’re not going to invest in the device to capture a day at the beach.

And before the first version of Google Glass got pulled from public view, these are the areas where it too was finding most success. Glass is still quietly on sale to enterprise partners while the Glass team hunkers down to work on version 2.0 of the smart spectacles.

Perhaps the next edition of Google Glass will be more consumer-friendly, but even if it is, the smart money would be on another tilt at the enterprise market. Doctor surgeries and checkups are two niche areas where Glass has been finding some small-scale success.

Epson says developing for the headset isn’t any more difficult than developing a normal Android app. The company is working with firms such as Ngrain, Scope A/R, and APX Labs to build bespoke solutions for clients.

One of those is an app created by Ngrain for Lockheed & Martin, enabling their technicians to fix and repair F-35 fighter jets. Again, a hugely useful enterprise use case for augmented reality, but not something that’s going to affect consumers. For the short-term, that’s what early hardware pioneers like Epson and Google might have to settle for.

Images courtesy of Epson