3D UI wearable promises Kinect-style discrete Glass alternative

A new wearable computer with a control system that uses Kinect-style hand tracking could avoid "OK, Glass" style embarrassment, a team from ITRI in Taiwan suggests, aiming to have the headset on the market within the next two years. The 3D floating interface, handiwork of the Industrial Technology Research Institute, puts a depth-sensor array on top of a pair of digital glasses, and can track fingers and other objects as they navigate through a virtual interface.

The result is an interface that only the wearer sees, in 3D – unlike the monocular Google Glass – which can be navigated through with swipes and virtual taps. Currently, the UI shows either a sketching app or a phone keypad, though the team responsible suggests it could be used for 3D gaming, controlling a TV, or in medical settings.

With a combination of camera and IR tracking the headset works in both regular and low-light conditions, and is capable of differentiating between the wearer's finger and movement in the background.

The current hardware isn't exactly discrete, and seemingly consists of a pair of Vuzix eyewear with a chunky depth-array on top. Any commercialized version would hopefully be considerably more streamlined, something the ITRI team suggests will take about two years to take place.

At that point, though, the expected price for a production model is said to be around $500. It's unclear what sort of functionality your money will get you or, indeed, whether the headset would be a standalone solution or require on a smartphone or even a tethered computer to power it.

Nonetheless, it's an interesting alternative to the current systems we've seen for interacting with wearables. Google has opted for a combination of voice control and basic touch gestures with Glass, requiring offboard processing in order to crunch the verbal commands, while Vuzix's Smart Glasses M100 use a combination of speech and a remote control app running on a tethered smartphone.

VIA Core77