Exploring the Future of FPV Flying and Augmented Reality With the Epson Moverio BT-300 Smart Glasses
BY Alan Perlman18 August 2017
This is a sponsored post. All opinions and unboxing / flight experience is reported as my own, with no input from the Moverio team. If you’re interested in ordering the Moverio BT-300 FPV Edition, you can do so at this link. Make sure to use the code UAVCOACH to get $100 off the order. You’ll also get free shipping, and your glasses will come with the Rochester Optical Lens for free, a $100 value.
It’s not every day you get to play with a revolutionary piece of technology.
Pardon the length (and geeky-ness) of this post. Over the last few days, I’ve had a LOT of fun testing the Epson Moverio BT-300 smart glasses, specifically while flying my DJI Mavic Pro.
To kick things off, check out this short promo video for the glasses, you’ll get a sense of how they can be used to fly FPV while, at the same time, to maintain visual line-of-sight with your drone.
In this post, I’m going to introduce Moverio’s technology and write about my experiences flying first-person-view (FPV) with the glasses, and I’ll lay out whether or not I think they’re a good fit for you and your efforts as a drone pilot.
Epson and the History of the Moverio BT-300
You’ve likely heard of Epson before.
The juggernaut Japanese electronics company has been around since 1942. They make printers, but they also make a number of other cool electronics, including smart glasses.
If you read as much science fiction as I do or have any interest in the future of technology, you should have no problem coming up with a few use cases for how smart glasses and augmented reality can be used:
- Museum tours
- Amusement parks / entertainment complexes
- Workplace training and remote support
To give you an idea of what the smart glasses ecosystem looks like and what kind of projects the Moverio team is involved in, check out their list of featured integration partners over here.
But we’re not here to wax philosophical on advanced technology, wearables, and what kind of devices humanity will be interacting with on a daily basis one day.
We’re here to talk about drones!
How Drone Pilots Can Use the Moverio BT-300 Glasses
As a drone pilot, one of the big operational considerations is this concept of line-of-sight flight, where, either from a regulatory perspective or simply just as a best practice, the drone pilot should be able to see the drone while flying it at all times.
Now, I shouldn’t let this post turn into a discussion of BVLOS (flying beyond visual line-of-sight) and where the drone industry is heading with all of that, but one thing to think about while flying drones now is that in order to see your first-person-view (FPV) screen, whether or not you’re using your phone, tablet, or a built-in screen, you have to take your eyes off the drone and look down at your hands.
Take a look at my dad, who I’ve been teaching how to fly my DJI Mavic Pro.
He has a hard time toggling back and forth between watching the drone and seeing the iPad screen just below the two joysticks. He may be smiling in this picture, but my guess is that he’s a little stressed as well. His eyes are glued directly to the Mavic Pro so as not to lose focus. Something many of you can likely relate to.
That’s where the Moverio BT-300 augmented reality glasses come into play.
Put on the glasses, connect them to your DJI drone, and then the Moverio’s transparent display allows you to see key flight statistics, while still maintaining a visual line-of-sight with the aircraft.
Pretty nifty, right?
Moverio BT-300: Key Product Specs
Here are a few of the product specifications I wanted to call your attention to:
- Maintain a clear line of sight — transparent display allows drone pilots to see key flight statistics, while still maintaining visual line of sight with the aircraft
- Premier FPV DJI partner — controller comes preloaded with DJI’s popular DJI GO App
- Easily record your drone in flight — front-facing camera captures real-time 1080p footage (at 30 fps) of your drone in flight, from the pilot’s point of view
- Light, comfortable fit — world’s lightest Si-OLED-powered, binocular, transparent smart glasses1, only 2.5 oz/69 g; easy to wear, even for extended periods of time
- Good visibility in bright sunlight — includes an extra-dark shade so there’s no need for a hood; maintain visual line of sight with your drone, even in sunny environments
- Custom clips to hold the controller in place — securely holds the BT-300FPV controller to the DJI remote (works with Phantom™ 3, 4 and Inspire™ 1 remotes; can purchase a Mavic clip separately)
- Android-based system — easily browse the Web, play games and stream content (does not support the Google Play™ store or other Google® Mobile Services)
- Prescription glasses-friendly — fits over a wide range of prescription eyewear
- Portable — rechargeable battery (in controller) offers up to six hours of battery life2; built-in card slot supports removable microSDHC cards up to 32GB
- Future-ready — motion sensors, front-facing high-resolution camera and the ability to render 3D content will enable developers to build next-generation flight experiences
Moverio BT-300: Unboxing & Initial Thoughts / Review
OK, enough of the fluff. What’s it like to actually fly with these?
Setting up the glasses
It took me about 5-10 minutes to read through the instructions, then another 20-25 minutes to put the glasses on, get acquainted with the menu and settings, and then to install the latest firmware, to refresh the app store, and to download the DJI Go 4 app onto the glasses.
Connecting to the DJI Mavic Pro
You have to connect the Moverio glasses directly to the transmitter via an included USB cable, but other than that, you turn on your transmitter and then your aircraft just as you normally would, then you open up the DJI Go 4 App from within the glasses to get started.
Taking Off & Testing
Most of the functions that are available on the DJI Go 4 app that’s accessible in the Google Play or Apple store are also available on the Moverio glasses. It certainly looked and felt the same.
My wife used the smart glasses to help me frame the shot of our family.
I only had two issues while flying that I’d like to call out:
- Focusing. That’s a DJI Mavic-specific issue though, when it comes to tapping to focus. Wearing glasses, I wasn’t able to tap while flying so had a hard time keeping things in focus. Some improvements need to be made around that, just not sure if that’s on the Moverio side, on the DJI side, or maybe I was just missing something.
- The second issue is with the controller part of the glasses, which need to be held while flying. Holding it isn’t practical, but mounting them to the transmitter sure is. Unfortunately, there’s not an easy way to do this on the Mavic like there is the Phantom or Inspire series, but apparently there’s an extra Mavic mounting accessory that takes care of that. I haven’t picked that up yet.
I was wearing the included Rochester Optical Lenses as well, which made it a LOT easier to see the screen through the glasses and something I’d highly recommend you use while flying.
Powering Down / Storing / Traveling
The glasses and accessories fit pretty well in a small carrying case. The battery life on the glasses is really long, something like 5-6 hours, enough to last a handful of DJI battery cycles 🙂
Admittedly, I’m not well-versed in AR / smart glasses technology, so I don’t have a good means of comparison when it comes to stacking the Moverio BT-300 glasses up to other options. But here were a few of my key takeaways while testing over the last couple of weeks:
They were much lighter than I expected and really comfortable, the kind of glasses I wouldn’t mind wearing for an extended period of time. I’m under the impression that other glasses models with similar technology are a lot heavier.
They were also much easier to set up than I had anticipated. I’ve tested enough consumer electronics to have reasonable expectations when it comes to setup time. Frankly, I was planning on having to work with their support team when I first opened the box. I thought it would have been more difficult to get up and running.
It took some time to get used to the viewing screen. Just like wearing a new pair of glasses, things are a little blurry at first, and you might get some slight dizziness while operating, so its best to wear them as much as possible in a non-flight environment before taking to the skies.
It’s not the same experience as flying with FPV goggles, like the FatShark or DJI Goggle models you may have seen or already flown with. You have to play around with the glasses a bit to get the right lighting, and being able to maintain situational awareness AND fly first-person-view at the same time is really nice, but toggling back and forth with your eyes takes a bit of time to get used to. Personally, I’ve never felt completely at ease with full-on goggles and much prefer glasses like these.
Oh, and my mom and dad really enjoyed playing with them 🙂
If you’re interested in ordering the Moverio BT-300 FPV Edition, you can do so at this link. Make sure to use the code UAVCOACH to get $100 off the order. You’ll also get free shipping, and your glasses will come with the Rochester Optical Lens for free, a $100 value.