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verizon: AR glasses

∙ device technology internship

∙ extended reality (XR) app development and ecosystem analysis

∙ summer 2021

I worked primarily with the Vuzix M4000 glasses during my internship.

role

Device Technology Intern

devices

Vuzix M4000   ∙   Nreal Light

skills

3D software development   ∙   market research and analysis

tools

Unity   ∙   Vuforia Engine   ∙   Android Studio

more

Final presentation

overview

During the summer of 2021, I worked at Verizon as a Device Technology Intern under the guidance of Monte Giles and his team. I explored and developed with augmented reality (AR) glasses for the first time, which was an incredibly exciting opportunity.

The main objective of the internship was to explore the gaps and opportunities associated with hands-free XR over 5G. Using Unity and Vuforia Engine, I created a scalable AR image tracking app to illustrate enterprise use cases for AR glasses over 5G. The demo allowed for performance comparisons showing value in integrating XR with 5G MEC. In addition, I analyzed the current XR market and presented the key HCI requirements and opportunities to the Device Technology leadership.

Since it was my first experience working with AR glasses, I needed to quickly familiarize myself with AR development tools and environments. AR glasses are still very new, so there was often a lack in documentation and compatibility between the glasses and existing software, which made development challenging at times. The internship was remote due to the pandemic, but I still found the connections I made and skills I gained incredibly rewarding.

XR image tracking

The basic flow for image tracking involves choosing an image to be the "image target" (i.e. a QR code) and associating it with a 3D asset (i.e. model of a house). Then, after the image target is printed out, users can view the 3D object through an AR lens.

I built the image tracking app using Unity and Vuforia Engine, and installed the APK file onto the AR glasses using ADB. The AR glasses already have a camera sensor, which makes it simple to detect the image target and subsequently render the 3D object.

demo results

The final demo I created involves three QR codes and associated house models to highlight enterprise use cases in architecture or real estate industries. In these cases, XR can be useful because clients don't have to go to a site to view a house model, which saves both time and money. Additionally, clients can view and interact with these house models independently and on a smaller scale through a personal lens. In a more complicated demo, clients might even be able to manipulate the house colors or materials.

I developed the demo for an enterprise use case, since AR is primarily being used in enterprise at the moment. On the other hand, most virtual reality (VR) devcies are targeted towards consumer use cases (e.g. gaming).

AR capability comparison

The image-tracking app I developed is compatible with both glasses and smartphone, allowing for comparison of AR capability between the two. In the demos below, you can see that in the demo on the Vuzix M4000 glasses (left), there is quite a bit of jitter and the 360 degree rotation is not as stable. The glasses have relatively low compute power and thus the performance is not ideal, even on my very simple app.

In contrast, the demo on the right is run on the Samsung Galaxy S21, which is a new phone and has high processing power, so you can see that the graphics are much sharper and the image tracking is much more exact. Importantly, this shows the value in offloading XR compute onto the cloud.

Demo on Vuzix M4000

Demo on Samsung Galaxy S21

XR ecosystem analysis

In addition to creating a demo for AR glasses, I conducted a SWOT analysis of the current XR market for both enterprise and consumers, and analyzed the weaknesses of current XR offerings from a human-computer interaction standpoint.

For the full SWOT analysis, please see appendix:

final presentation

key takeaways from analysis

  • Currently, XR helps standardize training/education & improves workflow efficiency

  • Weaknesses include physical design, input mechanisms, and hardware

  • For widespread user adoption, need to consider a lighter design and more intuitive user experience

concluding thoughts

Before the internship, I had no idea that Verizon was doing work in the XR industry at all, but I was really excited to hear that my project would involve XR. The internship challenged my initial perception of Verizon as just a telecom company, and I now see the company as one of the emerging key players at the forefront of new tech.

The internship presented various challenges: I was working with tech that I've never used before, and all the software I was working with was so new that there was almost no documentation anywhere when we ran into issues. AR is still an emerging industry and it has a lot of potential, but through my research I learned that it definitely also has a long way to go. I'm really excited that I got to work with such cutting-edge technology this summer; I think opportunities like this for students are pretty rare.




I'm also incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to be part of the Device Technology team -- all the people I met at Verizon were so driven and were working on exciting, innovative projects that are really pushing the boundaries of tech. My team was also incredibly supportive and flexible in giving me feedback and mentorship, even in a virtual space.

made with ♥ by michelle zhang