Toshiba Glass full review
Toshiba has unveiled Toshiba Glass, its answer to Google Glass and smartglasses from the likes of Sony and other rivals. The company dedicated a large portion of its stand at CES 2015 in Las Vegas to the smartglasses prototype, so we spent some time there getting to know Toshiba Glass and trying it out for ourselves. Here's our hands-on review of the Toshiba Glass. See also: Best wearable tech 2015
Like many other smartglasses, Toshiba Glass is currently in prototype form, so is subject to changes, tweaks and improvements before it becomes a finished, purchasable product. Right now, for example, it still needs to be wired to a smartphone at all times, which makes wearing the glasses much more comfortable thanks to the offload of the weight of the battery and other tech, but still isn't the ideal solution.
However, without requiring that extra tech that the smartphone itself can provide, we imagine that the Toshiba Glass could be much cheaper to buy than Google Glass, which currently has a £1,000 price tag. It also means that the projection module can be removed from the foldable frames for better portability.
Toshiba Glass differs from Google Glass in many ways, though essentially it aims to achieve the same thing: providing information that's accessible hands-free by simply glancing slightly to the right.
Unlike Google Glass, which uses a prism that sits in front of your right eye, Toshiba Glass has a tiny projector attached to the otherwise ordinary-looking glasses that works by projecting images onto the reflective glass lens fitted into the frames. We found that the image was visible right in the middle of our line of vision, though, which is less than ideal when driving, for example.
Hopefully Toshiba will come up with a way to move the display slightly to suit the user's preference. I noticed that most people using the glasses in the demo were holding them with one hand, probably to reposition the screen, so a way to adjust it is definitely required.
The small, square projection is very clear and in full colour, and the graphics used in Toshiba's various test apps were bright, simple and easy to decipher to reduce the need for lots of text.
Toshiba was demoing various different applications for the Toshiba Glass during CES 2015. The company is aiming for business uses to begin with, but plans to release the Toshiba Glass for consumers too.
For example, Toshiba demonstrated how Toshiba Glass can be used for cooking, displaying ingredients and amounts one by one as you follow a recipe without needing to take your eyes off the food itself. We also got an idea of how Toshiba Glass could be useful for tourists, showing information about their current location, as well as nearby places to eat. Toshiba Glass could be a fun addition to museum tours, too.
For business users, Toshiba Glass could connect with an order-picking app to provide maps and locations of products in a warehouse, and could even warn users when a work vehicle is approaching to help prevent workplace accidents. Toshiba lists medical and healthcare, law enforcement and security as additional business uses.
There's no camera in the Toshiba Glass so features such as capturing image or video from your point of view aren't available, but that again helps the glasses to be less bulky and heavy.
We're quite impressed with the display technology used in the Toshiba Glass, and the huge variety of different frames the company has come up with means there should be something to suit everyone, whether they need durable glasses for the workplace or more dainty frames for day-to-day use. Aiming for the business market first seems wise, as we're still not sure consumers are ready for smartglasses, but Sony's SmartEyeglass Attach, which you can read about here, could change that.
Toshiba Glass is still in relatively early stages of development, so there's no idea of a consumer release date or price for the wearable gadget yet, but we'll update this article with more information as it arrives. For businesses, Toshiba Glass may actually become available this year.