What are the best AR smartglasses?
Augmented reality is primarily experienced via a wearable glass device, head-mounted device, or through smartphone applications. Augmented reality overlays digital content on top of the real world. Therefore, AR enhances the user’s experience in the real world rather than replacing it.
Not to be confused with virtual reality or mixed reality, even though they all fall under the extended reality spectrum, augmented reality is believed to have the biggest potential for mass consumption.
AR has the backing of investment of huge tech giants, who are investing not only in the hardware but also working with developers to create user-friendly toolkits and SDKs (software development kits). Furthermore, AR can be delivered on hardware that we already own and use: smartphones.
Here’s our selection of some of the best AR glasses available on the market.
The best AR smartglasses
|AR glasses||FOV||Country||Release year||Price*||Buy|
|Epson MOVERIO BT-300||23°||Japan||2016||$699||See offer|
|Google Glass Enterprise Edition||-||US||2017||$1,800|
|Toshiba dynaEdge AR100 Viewer||-||Japan||2018||$1,899|
|Vuzix Blade Smart Glasses||-||US||2018||$799||See offer|
|ThirdEye Gen X2||42°||US||2019||$1,950|
*Price: manufacturer's suggested retail price. These prices are subject to change over time and from one country to another.
Overview of the best AR headsets in 2020
- AR glasses (smartglasses)
- Smartphone augmented reality (mobile AR)
- Tethered AR headsets
AR glasses dominate our selection of best of AR devices available and are the most common type of AR device you can find. When it comes to actual headsets, they’re mostly aimed at business and enterprise-level users.
- Sharp 720p HD resolution OLED display
- Drone edition allows the use of the AR glasses to control, for example, a DJI drone
- Long battery life
- Dedicated controller
- Limited to 32GB microSD card
- Small FOV of 23°
More information: Epson MOVERIO BT-300
- Country: Israel
- Price: $649
- Battery life can last for up to 8 hours
- 13.2 MP front camera enables users to capture HD videos and photos
- Provided with intuitive touchpad and an optional controller is available
- Users may switch between different visor tints depending on the weather
- Combined with additional accessories, these AR glasses can be pricey
More information: Everysight Raptor
- Country: US
- Battery life of 8 hours
- Superior upgrades compared to earlier product versions
- Expensive price tag, restricting the target to enterprise level users
More information: Google Glass Enterprise Edition
- Country: US
- Price: $499
- Affordable price point
- A range of user performance trackers
- Access to a large variety of AR applications
- Limited 5-hour battery life
More information: Kopin SOLOS
- Country: Japan
- Price: $1,899
- Fits over most traditional glasses
- Noise-canceling microphones
- High price point
- Requires to be tethered to a mini PC
More information: Toshiba dynaEdge AR100 Viewer
- Powerful 8 MP HD camera
- Rechargeable battery
- Noise-canceling microphone
- High price point for non-commercial users
More information: Vuzix Blade Smart Glasses
ThirdEye Gen X2
- Country: United States
- Real-time screen sharing
- Long battery life and external battery option
- Small FOV of 42°
- High price point for commercial use
More information: ThirdEye Gen X2
- Country: US
- Price: $999
- Impressive 64 GB internal memory
- Variety of content available through VUZIX Basics™ Apps platform
- Full range of additional accessories available to purchase
- Poor standard battery life of 2 hours (can use external batteries for extended use)
More information: Vuzix M300
As we base our list on community feedback and trusted ratings, some noteworthy virtual reality headsets haven’t made their way into our main selection. That’s why we’ve decided to provide additional insight into the AR smartglasses market with special mentions for HMDs that are under the radar or that aren’t available to the masses just yet.
Gaming: Lenovo Mirage Star Wars Jedi Challenges
The Lenovo Mirage Star Wars Jedi Challenges is an easy to use and reliable product based on the community feedback. We chose to leave it out of our list as it’s severely restricted to Star Wars gaming content/apps.
Promising prototype: Leap Motion North Star AR
The Leap Motion North Star is an open-source AR headset. Leap Motion isn’t currently planning to develop the hardware for commercial use, but this may change.
The key feature that has AR enthusiasts excited is the hand-tracking system. Furthermore, even as a prototype, the overall specs are impressive: 100° FOV, a high refresh rate of 120 FPS (frames per second), and 1600 x 1440p resolution per eye.
Affordable smartphone AR: Mira Prism
The Mira Prism is an augmented reality headset for smartphones, available at a very reasonable price point of $99. In addition, this AR HMD is compatible with iOS devices (4.7 to 5.8 inches). Users can access AR content on Apple’s App Store or through Mira’s proprietary AR apps.
Promising crowdfunding: ANTVR MIX
The ANTVR MIX is a tethered AR headset which was successful in raising funds through Kickstarter in 2018. The AR HMD aims to offer VR capabilities and has a wide FOV of 96°.
Retractable AR display: Optinvent ORA-X
The Optinvent ORA-X is another unique option as the wearable AR device are actually headphones featuring a retractable AR display. Users can interact with videos, play games, and use AR applications.
In addition to these, Apple, Samsung (in partnership with Windows), and Google are all rumored to be working on AR headsets or AR smart glasses.
Augmented reality: who is it for?
- Entertainment and gaming
- Social AR
- Real estate
Augmented reality can be used in varying industries, and augmented reality companies are rapidly using augmented technology in innovative ways. According to the 2018 IDC report on VR and AR, non-smartphone AR headsets will lead the growth by 2021.
How to choose the best AR glasses
The release of SDKs like ARCore for Android and ARKit for iOS allows developers to produce a greater range of user experiences and give users, in turn, an opportunity to experience augmented reality.
Examples of AR popular SDKs:
- Facebook AR studio: supports 3D rendering, real-time face tracking, object recognition and visual effects, AR shopping apps and navigation.
- Apple ARKit: a toolkit to create AR apps for iPhones and iPads.
- Google’s ARCore: uses 3D positioning, motion tracking, Google Lens, and AI-powered visual-search technologies that tether to smartphones or tablets.
Others AR toolkits include Vuforia, Wikitude, EasyAR, and many more.
Battery life and FOV
There are some key factors to consider in choosing an AR headset, aside from price limitations.
FOV (Field of view)
Increased FOV results in better immersion for the user. AR still falls behind VR headsets and the mixed reality headsets currently in production. The standard average is around 100° for these VR headsets, but is significantly lower in AR glasses.
Longer battery life ensures prolonged use of the augmented reality smart glasses and a better experience for the user. There are now a range of options to extend the use of the AR headsets, including battery packs, replaceable or rechargeable batteries, tethered devices (permanent power source) etc. which all have their own pros and cons.
Other requirements for AR glasses
The other requirements for augmented reality can include:
- Processing power
- Network connectivity options (Bluetooth, WiFi, etc.)
- Cameras for detecting surroundings and taking high-resolution images and video
- High-resolution display
- Internal sensors (GPS, gyroscopes, magnetometers, and accelerometers)
Our Ultimate VR, AR, MR guide explains in more detail the technical considerations for understanding the differences and examples of the technologies and products available.