A man controls Google Glass using the touchpad built into the side of the device.

An optical head-mounted display (OHMD) is a wearable device that has the capability of reflecting projected images as well as allowing the user to see through it. In some cases, this may qualify as augmented reality (AR) technology. OHMD technology has existed since 1997 in various forms, but despite a number of attempts from industry, has yet to have had major commercial success.


Various techniques have existed for see-through HMDs. Most of these techniques can be summarized into two main families: "Curved Mirror" (or Curved Combiner) based and "Waveguide" or "Light-guide" based. The curved mirror technique has been used by Vuzix in their Star 1200 product, by Olympus, and by Laster Technologies. Various waveguide techniques have existed for some time. These techniques include diffraction optics, holographic optics, polarized optics, and reflective optics:

Input devices

Head-mounted displays are not designed to be workstations, and traditional input devices such as keyboards do not support the concept of smart glasses. Input devices that lend themselves to mobility and/or hands-free use are good candidates, for example:

Recent developments





Market structure

Analytics company IHS has estimated that the shipments of smart glasses may rise from just 50,000 units in 2012 to as high as 6.6 million units in 2016.[10] According to a survey of more than 4,600 U.S. adults conducted by Forrester Research, around 12 percent of respondents are willing to wear Google Glass or other similar device if it offers a service that piques their interest.[11] Business Insider's BI Intelligence expects an annual sales of 21 million Google Glass units by 2018.[12]

According to reliable reports, Samsung and Microsoft are expected to develop their own version of Google Glass within six months with a price range of $200 to $500. Samsung has reportedly bought lenses from Lumus, a company based in Israel. Another source says Microsoft is negotiating with Vuzix.[13]

In 2006, Apple filed patent for its own HMD device.[14]

In July 2013, APX Labs founder and CEO Brian Ballard stated that he knows of 25-30 hardware companies who are working on their own versions of smart glasses, some of which APX is working with.[15]

Comparison of various OHMDs technologies

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Combiner technology Size Eye box FOV Limits / Requirements Example
Flat combiner 45 degrees Thick Medium Medium Traditional design Vuzix, Google Glass
Curved combiner Thick Large Large Classical bug-eye design Many products (see through and occlusion)
Phase conjugate material Thick Medium Medium Very bulky OdaLab
Buried Fresnel combiner Thin Large Medium Parasitic diffraction effects The Technology Partnership (TTP)
Cascaded prism/mirror combiner Variable Medium to Large Medium Louver effects Lumus, Optinvent
Free form TIR combiner Medium Large Medium Bulky glass combiner Canon, Verizon & Kopin (see through and occlusion)
Diffractive combiner with EPE Very thin Very large Medium Haze effects, parasitic effects, difficult to replicate Nokia / Vuzix
Holographic waveguide combiner Very thin Medium to Large in H Medium Requires volume holographic materials Sony
Holographic light guide combiner Medium Small in V Medium Requires volume holographic materials Konica Minolta
Combo diffuser/contact lens Thin (glasses) Very large Very large Requires contact lens + glasses Innovega & EPFL
Tapered opaque light guide Medium Small Small Image can be relocated Olympus

See also


  1. ^ "tooz technologies". Tooz (in German). Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  2. ^ Milian, Mark (17 April 2012). "Oakley Tests Technology That Would Rival Google's Project Glass". bloomberg.com.
  3. ^ "3D evolved: Hands-on with Canon's MREAL virtual reality system". digitaltrends.com. 21 February 2013.
  4. ^ Piltch, Avram (25 February 2013). "Dual-Eye Augmented Reality Goggles Recognize Faces, Gestures". Laptop Mag.
  5. ^ Hollister, Sean (18 May 2013). "How two Valve engineers walked away with the company's augmented reality glasses". The Verge.
  6. ^ Bohn, Dieter (5 February 2018). "Intel is making smart glasses that actually look good". The Verge.
  7. ^ Bohn, Dieter (18 April 2018). "Intel is giving up on its smart glasses". The Verge. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Deutsche Telekom pairs up with Zeiss in smart glasses startup". Bloomberg.com. 7 February 2018.
  9. ^ "ZEISS and Telekom Strengthen Commitment to Smart Glasses in Joint Venture". Zeiss. 6 February 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  10. ^ "Spurred by Google Glass, IHS Forecasts Nearly 10 Million Smart Glasses to Ship from 2012 to 2016". IHS.com. 24 April 2013.
  11. ^ "21.6 million geeky Americans want Google Glass right now". bizjournals.com. 21 June 2013.
  12. ^ "BI INTELLIGENCE FORECAST: Google Glass Will Be An $11 Billion Market By 2018". businessinsider.com. 21 May 2013.
  13. ^ Sloane, Garett (15 May 2013). "Microsoft, Samsung developing high-tech specs to rival Google Glass". nypost.com.
  14. ^ Bonnington, Christina (7 March 2013). "Take That, Google Glass: Apple Granted Patent for Head-Mounted Display". Wired.com.
  15. ^ McKenzie, Hamish (12 July 2013). "Before Google Glass, there was Terminator Vision. Now its maker focuses on enterprise". Pando Daily. Archived from the original on 14 July 2013.

Further reading