Written by Young Jeohn
... until today. In a product showcase held in New York, they featured a plethoria of technologies not normally associated with the brand, including AR (augmented Reality) glasses, GPS products, high quality projector technology and of course printers.
I initially went to check out their AR tech, that to my surprise, was already available for purchase on the market. While they do have (or will have) some well designed industrial versions that have great use cases in saving businesses time, money and a whole lot of grief, for now let me tell you about the Drone Edition Moverio BT-300 AR glasses that work with DJI drones.
If you've seen drone racing, it's timed competition where pilots have to get the drone through a maze of obstacles. The problem with this is there's only one track in one geographic location, thus limiting the number of participants. This limitation changes with Epson's AR. Their use of a virtual racetrack means location is no longer a barrier to entry - you can share the track with other DJI pilots around the globe and prove your skill without having to travel to one particular place - no travel costs, hotel expense, meals... just find an open area where you can fly and prove your mettle with the best of them. This "product" is a result of several companies working together; the AR technology from Epson, the drone from DJI, and the AR game from Edgybees.
Just a thought, but you know what'd be awesome? If you can see your competitor as you race in real-time, or be able to pilot your drone alongside a recording of the current best flight record (and actually see it being flown in reference to how you're doing.) Maybe this is already possible. At any rate, a feature like this would be really cool for competition as you then have a goal to aim for - taking down the best!
PRINTERS (Fashion & Photography)
True to the Epson brand, you can't talk about this company without discussing printers. Their product line is so wide ranging that I'll focus on just two segments - fashion and photography.
And wouldn't you know it, fashion designers are using Epson printers (in this case, the SureColor F9200) to print on fabrics and flexible material types. And the difference in textiles is huge, which is amazing - from the really thick kinds with raised textures that you can feel on your fingertips, to the very fine, silky and delicates that you can see through.
Just imagine an industrial strength sewing machine that's sensitive enough not to damage silk and see-through fabrics, and yet powerful enough to finish the job on thick jeans materials too. But instead of a needle, it's now a piezo type ink nozzle - that without the use of heat, can handle all these materials without ruining them with just the right amount of ink - no drenching or mixing of colors upon landing on the material due to too much (depending on the absorbancy of the material) and not too light either, in which case the material is useless (a good chance re-printing will blur the image causing double vision.) Plus, heat doesn't play well with delicate fabrics; it could stretch or deform the most sensitive of them. Which makes me wonder if you can print on stockings and nylons, since the use of this material is becoming more common, especially in sports wear (e.g. integrated into yoga pants in strips along the leg.)
The results of this precision printer are really nice and accurate prints, and great for both solid blocks of color and gradient shifts. If you're a designer, you can't always get a bolt of cloth with the exact pattern or print you want (or it might exist, but would have to wait a month for it to arrive or only need a small quantity.) With this printer, the design possibilities are endless - and you get to choose and/or create your own right then and there for instant availability (and gratification.)
Next, there's something nice for us photographers (of whom I am one) who can appreciate a photo to be displayed on your wall rather than on a Facebook post. Called the SureColor P400, it provides what is almost always a specialty print -not your consumer 4x6 or A7- but canvas prints, metallic prints, those of panoramic size that wouldn't do your photos justice by looking at a wee image on a phone or computer screen.
These types of prints are usually outsourced, and even then is tricky business because print quality varies greatly from shop to shop (color and accuracy, medium being printed on, etc.) Whilst achieving that professional grade look meant turning to a pro-printer in the past, the P400 can comfortably sit in your home (it's not that big) and print directly from a bolt of canvas (?!?!?!) or other material for gorgeous panoramic images of that city skyline. Or your cute litter of puppies that took forever for you to take a picture of as they kept mucking about. And as they say, taking pictures of children and pets can be difficult. But now you can also say printing them out in high quality doesn't have to be.
Ah, there's a secret sauce in the P400; a party trick I may get yelled at for telling you about. <Whisper>It uses a gloss-type ink on none-printed areas.</Whisper> If you look closely at a print made on a consumer level printer, there's NO INK in the white areas. Viewing the print from an angle even gives you the feeling that something's missing. But printing this "gloss" on areas where there isn't any ink deposit gives it an even sheen and feel. Nice, huh?
Finally, the accompanying software simplifies the whole printing ordeal and can even be opened straight from photoshop so you can continue editing something else while the print software does its magic.
The Home Cinema 4000 is a 4K projector for your wo/man cave. It's got great contrast ratio and HDR, with details that has to be seen to be believed from a projector - and here I thought it was only possible to see this much detailed resolution from a physical screen! It's like being in a movie theater - you need to set this up in a dark room. But once installed, it's got several inputs so you can connect, say, a computer source and a gaming system. The motorized lens, once calibrated to the size of the screen in your home (e.g. the wall), can maximize the size of the source material from edge to edge. You can be watching a super wide film like Ben Hur, then have the projector re-adjust to fill the screen when watching a full HD movie at 16.9 ratio. No need to fiddle around manually.
Finally, the BrightLink Pro 1470Ui is more of a work/school type projector, but is extremely cool because it also has sensors to recognize input as well as projecting an output. Add to that the ability to attach it mere inches away from the wall? C'mon! What other projector can do this?
You can almost treat this as a whiteboard - a two way whiteboard you can share with colleagues (or students) in the same room or online. Want to know what they think? You can let them interact on this "whiteboard" on their own tablets or computer screens too, with everyone else seeing real-time updates as it happens!
ROBOTIC ARMS (for Printing?)
This product is certainly more for industry, but hear me out. The Flexion N2 is a robotic arm - you've seen videos of robotic arms welding together cars in factories, right? But this one's got 6 axes, enabling its use in small spaces. I mean, your own arm moves on only 4 axes and if the space is tight, your arm wouldn't be able to move freely. With real estate getting more and more expensive, every industry is trying to squeeze more into less - you see this in agriculture (more corn grown in less space), human dwellings (apartments being built upwards, and more recently, the building of micro apartments). Sooner or later, manufacturing will also run into similar issues, and this arm is a working solution for that.
I bring this up because I can sort of see the practical use of this arm in, for example, 3D printing. You won't need a big, square box taking up a lot of space like most 3D printers of today. As costs come down, the precision of these Flexion N2 types of devices can possibly be used as 3D printers that take up only the platform space needed for the print. The variable angles can also work to its benefit as it's not fixed in one particular direction like most 3D printer nozzles. I'm seeing possibilities here for the future of 3D printing when space starts to become an issue and the need for angular head movement becomes a possibility.
Just to throw it out there for anyone who's still got a collection of physical photographs from back in the day, Epson's FastFoto FF-640 does a super quick scan job (both front AND back) at high resolution, taking in one photo per second! I couldn't believe it, and wished I had this before I'd scanned in all my photos on a regular scanner - a super slow process.
It was a chore I kept putting off because of the time involved - you have to pick up a photo, open the scanner lid, align the picture on the glass, close the lid, name the file on the computer, mouse click several buttons, wait for the actual scan (without previewing it, if you can help it) see if the scan worked, save the file, then lift the lid, remove the photo, and do this stupid process over and over.
It takes many minutes and a whole lot of effort just to get through one photo - but since the FF-640 was developed with just this purpose in mind, it blew through a box of photos in no time and looked like a cash counting machine (ok, not that fast but one photo per second is seriously quick.) The software provided also gives you the option of saving a copy in your Dropbox or Google Drive account.
Watching the way this was automated annoyed me to no end, because it wouldn've saved me several weeks of hand scanning and a bout with carpal tunnel.
Just as a prism refracts white light into its many wavelengths from red to purple, Epson's theme of "Prism of Possibilities" shows us the company's wealth of different products that you probably didn't know existed (with more coming out that I can't talk about yet.) But now that we've been given a glimpse, we can be 100% sure that unlike the title of this piece, Epson does NOT = printers only. They offer a hella lot more innovation than they're given credit for.
MORE INFO: https://epson.com