Photos Courtesy Atheer
A worker wearing Atheer AiR Smart Glasses can interact with and manipulate floating images of virtual 3D designs and environments by using a depth camera and gesture technology, built into the headset and tethered to a processing pack.

Augmented interactive reality glasses controlled by head and hand gestures now are available as a developer kit. The technology has the potential to help workers interact with 3D drawings and live-stream video.

CTO Atheer Labs' AiR DK2 glasses and operating system are "closer to a mobile version of [the film] 'Minority Report,' " says Soulaiman Itani, founder of the Mountain View, Calif., firm. He says the high- definition display shows floating windows that are layered over natural environments; users interact with information as they would with a tablet.

"Having drawings in 3D at your fingertips is an amazing application for construction," says Vincent Higgins, president and CEO of Fitiri Energy, a Houston-based firm that provides 3D immersion training simulations for the oil-and-gas industry. Higgins, a customer and partner with Atheer, says the ability to interact with vital information during critical field operations could improve efficiency.

A cord connects the glasses to a processing pack, which is clipped to the user's belt and contains the processor, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip. A high-def RGB camera can transmit live-stream video, while a depth camera allows users to measure distance by pointing directly at a target. The battery lasts up to three hours under continuous use, says Itani.

After the devkit stage, Atheer will tweak the final design. For example, Itani says his team is working on a safety version of the glasses that will allow users to customize the lenses inside the device, so that some users won't be stuck wearing safety glasses atop their smart glasses atop their prescription glasses. While the current version's field of view is 35°, a future version's will be widened to about 60°.

The technology is very good, but the system still needs to fine-tune its readings when measuring distances, he adds. Itani says the measurement accuracy can be improved by increasing the range of the glasses, but this is a balancing act because it also eats up battery life.