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Japanese carrier DoCoMo demos 'Intelligent Glass' wearable at CEATEC 2013 (hands-on)

Mat Smith, @thatmatsmith
October 1, 2013
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Wearables are coming and DoCoMo wants to be involved from the start. Here at CEATEC, the carrier has dedicated a quadrant of its booth to prototype wearables (at least some of it was Vuzix hardware), with several different demo sessions offering glimpses into how it all might work. First, however, the wearable itself. We saw several different models and many had Vuzix written somewhere on them. It appears that NTT DoCoMo has been working more closely on the software interfaces and real world applications, and so it didn't really push (or even mention) technical specifications.

On the "Space Interface" demo, however, the headset paired a camera with an infrared sensor, both in the middle of the device, to gauge where your hands are. You could then interact with characters on screen, poke, push and pick them up and move 'em around. These are very early concepts, but DoCoMO's already working to make these virtual objects shareable, allowing multiple people to manipulate the same thing. Darren embarrasses himself while playing with a virtual bear after the break. Oh, and we've got more on the wearable too.

Gallery: NTT DoCoMo Intelligent Glass Demo at CEATEC 2013 | 22 Photos

As you might have seen in the video, DoCoMo is also working on a facial and word recognition, meaning you can use "Intelligent Glass" to derive extras details (job history, email and more) about whoever you're facing: these appeared in a projected display which should be familiar to anyone that's managed to try Google Glass. The facial recognition tech involves a confirmation function that aims to protect privacy -- users can add additional people to be identified, manually. The same demo also included an on-the-fly translation feature, which overlapped our view of a Japanese food menu with english wording.

The "Anything is an interface" demo pairs the developmental wearable with a ring input device and makes any flat surface a touchscreen, well, to some extent. Tapping on the folder or a similar item opens a selection of icons to browse, with touch movements all pretty similar to a tablet, although it's a little limited at these early stages. It would be pretty great if you could display a full, expanded version of your mobile OS on a bigger device. Finally, the "hands-free video" section demonstrated how the prototype wearable could mirror smartphone content, with the ability to stream video and navigate around your smart device through either its own touchscreen or voice control -- just don't expect 720p video on these lightweight frames.

The Japanese carrier hasn't yet announced any plans to sell the wearable device and the fact we saw several marginally different models backs up the idea that the company hasn't quite settled on what it wants to the product to be. It's more a showcase of what we can expect, not what Japanese customers are going to get. At the same time, Google Glass remains US-only beta hardware, so expect plenty more demos, prototypes and draft wearables before these products eventually arrive on store shelves.

Darren Murph contributed to this report.

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