Plantronics Prototype Headtracking Headset Hands-on: Definitely a Head Turner
From Google Glass to Galaxy Gear, wearable technology is all the rage these days, so much so that even headset maker Plantronics wants in on the action. Plantronics Senior Director of Innovation, Cary Bran recently showed us the beginnings of a brand new product, a prototype built out of the company's Voyager Legend Bluetooth headset. Bran says that he and his team implemented a number of new sensors and chips into the headset and coupled it with Bluetooth Smart technology to allow for some interesting augmented reality experiences.
The Voyager Legend headset detects when it is on a user's ear. But with new touch and motion sensors, the headset also detects when it is being tapped and when it is in free fall. Bran displayed these somewhat simple features in action with a custom iOS app, but things got much more interesting when he showed off the prototype's head-tracking ability. Using a Bluetooth Smart chip in conjunction with a gyroscope, this prototype can track your head's orientation in 360 degrees. Bran showed off this feature first with a rendered head of none other than Scarlett Johansson, whose iPad-bound face tilted and turned just as his did.
Moving on to a demo closer to an actual use case for a would-be device, Bran showed off the prototype working in tandem with a locally-cached version of Google Street View. As Bran tilted his head in every which direction, so did the view within this snippet of Google Street View. In theory, this could lead to fun interactions with mapping and augmented reality apps. While we'd be more excited by a device that didn't require tethering to a smartphone or tablet, it's promising to see more companies thinking along these lines. The more companies involved, the higher the chance of cracking the code to wearable tech that we actually want to wear.
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