At the beginning of December 2021, RealWear gave us an early Christmas present: With the RealWear Navigator 500, the US specialist for industrial smart glasses presented the successor of the RealWear HMT-1.
The new model not only received an optical upgrade, but also offers some improvements and novelties compared to its predecessor.
We have tested the RealWear Navigator 500 in practical use and this much can be said in advance: Bitnamic is thrilled.
RealWear Navigator 500 in test
The Navigator 500 is the latest member of our reference models and – just like its predecessor HMT-1, the Vuzix M400 or the Microsoft HoloLens – is especially suitable for use in industry. You can find a direct comparison of these three top smart glasses for industry in our magazine.
But first, let’s take a closer look at the new RealWear Navigator 500.
Design & wearing comfort
The basic shape of the Navigator 500 is based on that of the HMT-1, but the new model presents a more modern, more slender design. The power button with integrated fingerprint sensor is on one side. The camera and display are on the opposite side, the latter is attached to the so-called boom arm. The Navigator 500 has one more joint on the boom arm than the HMT-1 so that the user can align the display according to his specific needs even better.
The RealWear Navigator 500 is characterized by even greater wearing comfort: The new model weighs just 272 grams and is thus over 100 grams lighter than the HMT-1. The workband, which is included in delivery, ensures even weight distribution. The smart glasses can thus be worn comfortably for several hours.
Unlike the HMT-1, the Navigator 500 is based on a modular concept, which means that individual components such as the display, camera or battery can be easily replaced in the future. In this regard, RealWear has already announced that additional modules will be presented shortly. This makes it possible to respond individually to different tasks and challenges.
Display & camera
Regarding the display, not much has changed in the Navigator 500: Like the HMT-1, the new smart glasses model has a 24-bit LCD color display with a resolution of 854 x 480 pixels and a 20° field of view. The display is thus still equivalent to a 7-inch tablet. In the course of the announced new modular components, products that can improve the quality of the display will presumably also be introduced.
What has definitely improved is the camera of the Navigator 500: While the HMT-1 is equipped with a 16 MP camera, its successor enables high-resolution 48 MP photos on professional camera level. Videos are recorded in Full HD, but with a doubled frame rate of 60 fps. Thus, smooth recordings are guaranteed.
The Navigator 500 is also voice-controlled, but unlike the HMT-1, it also has an action, forward and back button. This is a nice addition, but it is hardly needed because the voice control of the Navigator 500 works excellently.
True to the motto “say what you see”, as our partner Barcotec puts it, the user of the Navigator 500 only has to say what he sees on the display of the smart glasses and it will be executed. Voice control also works offline and in ambient noise of up to 100 dB.
Regarding the number of supported languages, RealWear has increased from 15 to 17 languages: In addition to German, English, French, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin and Thai, Cantonese and Czech are now also available.
Storage & battery
The memory has also been increased: Instead of the previous 32 GB, the RealWear Navigator 500 has 64 GB of internal storage and 4 GB RAM. It can be expanded by up to 512 GB via the microSD card slot.
The successor of the HMT-1 is also equipped with a 2600 mAh battery. It is hot-swappable, i.e. it can be replaced during operation; restarting the smart glasses is not necessary.
The change itself is easier and therefore faster with the Navigator 500 than with the predecessor model: Thanks to the clip-in system, it can be quickly removed and replaced with a full battery.
RealWear has increased the battery life: The HMT-1 can be used actively for about five hours, the Navigator 500 even up to 8 hours.
Scope of delivery & accessories
The standard scope of delivery of the Navigator 500 includes:
- 1x RealWear Navigator 500
- 1x USB-C 3.0 charging cable
- 1x Workband
As for the HMT-1, a variety of accessories are offered for its successor:
- Hard hat clips
- Head straps
- Headphones (with hearing protection)
- LTE / 4G Modem
- Batteries and chargers
- Bags and cases
RealWear Navigator 500 price
The price for the RealWear Navigator 500 is currently 2,530.00 Euro. The price includes installation and support by Bitnamic.
Fields of application of the Navigator 500 – THE smart glasses for industry
With the HMT-1, RealWear has developed a pair of smart glasses specifically designed to meet the requirements of industrial environments. The Navigator 500 is meant to follow in the footsteps of the HMT-1 – and it succeeds effortlessly.
Robust, dust-proof, jet-proof, drop-proof up to 2 meters on concrete and usable at -20°C to +50°C – the RealWear Navigator 500 is ideally suited for daily use in industry. It facilitates
- commissioning of machines and plants,
and can be used both outdoors and indoors (the Microsoft HoloLens 2, for example, is primarily suitable for indoor industrial or medical environments). Smart glasses for industry, such as the RealWear models, are most commonly used on construction sites, in production, logistics, oil, gas, automotive, and heavy industry.
Advantages of the RealWear Navigator 500
Thanks to the combination of workband and even lower weight, the new model from RealWear can be used actively for longer periods of time without pressing uncomfortably on the head. In addition, the improved, hot-swappable battery means that the Navigator 500 can last an entire workday without running out of power.
Smart glasses for industry should not only provide the user with essential information, but also make it possible to have both hands free for working on machines. The new models are designed to be used in a variety of applications. This is not the case with models that require the additional operation of buttons on the smart glasses.
The Navigator 500 has such a sophisticated voice control system that it is child’s play to use. This intuitive form of operation facilitates work immensely. Added to this is the active noise cancellation, which allows precise voice control even with 100 dB of industrial noise.
The biggest advantages of the RealWear Navigator 500 at a glance:
- Robust design, ideally suited for (outdoor) use in industrial environments
- Intuitive, excellent voice control
- Many languages
- Noise cancellation up to 100 dB
- High photo and video quality
- High wearing comfort
- Low weight
- Individually adjustable camera and display
- Long battery life
- Hot-swappable battery
RealWear Navigator 500 vs HMT-1 – Technical data in comparison
|Display||20° field of view, 1 meter fixed focus, 24 bit color LCD, 0,33 inch diagonal, also good readability outdoors, WVGA 854 x 480 px (appears as 7 inch)||20° field of view, 1 meter fixed focus, 24 bit color LCD, 0,33 inch diagonal, also good readability outdoors, WVGA 854 x 480 px (appears as 7 inch)|
|Audio||4 microphones with active noise cancellation up to 95 dB, max. volume 91 dB||4 microphones with active noise cancellation up to 100 dB, max. volume 94 dB|
|Video||Up to 1080p @30fps. Codecs: VP8, VP9 and hardware encoding support for H.264, H.265 HEVC||Up to 1080p @60fps. 6x zoom in HD, Codecs: VP8, VP9 and hardware encoding support for H.264, H.265 HEVC|
|Control||Voice control only, 15 languages available||Voice control incl. action, forward & back button, 17 languages available|
|Camera||16 MP 4-axis optical image stabilisation, PDAF with LED light||48 MP 4-axis optical image stabilisation, PDAF with LED light|
|Protection||IP 66, MIL-STD-810G, 2 m drop test, dust-proof, water-jet-proof, usable at -20°C to +50°C||IP66, MIL-STD-810G, 2 m drop test, dust-proof, water-jet-proof, usable at -20°C to +50°C|
|Battery||5 hours, 3250 mAh Li-Ion, hot-swappable||6-8 hours, 2600 mAh / 10,0 Wh Li-Polymer, hot-swappable|
|Connectivity||WLAN, Bluetooth||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|Operating system||Android 10 (AOSP) + WearHF™ Hands-Free Interface||Android 11 (AOSP) + WearHF™ Hands-Free Interface + Enterprise features|
|Processor||2.0 GHz 8-core Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 626||2.0 GHz 8-core Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 662 with Adreno 610 GPU – OpenGL® ES 3.2 & OpenCL™ 2.0|
|Memory||32 GB internal storage / 3 GB RAM / microSD slot (max. 256 GB)||64 GB internal storage / 4 GB RAM / microSD slot (max. 512GB)|
|Ports||3.5 mm audio, 1 USB Type C||3.5mm audio, 1 USB Type C|
|Weight||380 g||272 g|
|Price||On request||2,530.00 Euro (incl. installation & support)|
Purchasing RealWear Navigator 500 – is it worth it?
We at Bitnamic have tested the new smart glasses extensively and can answer the question whether it is worth buying the RealWear Navigator 500 with an unequivocal YES – especially with regard to remote service.
The increased challenges of the last two years have shown how important remote support is and how much augmented reality maintenance facilitates the daily work, be it commissioning, maintenance or repair cases.
As the developer of bitnamic CONNECT, the smart service solution for location-independent maintenance and service, it was of course particularly important to us that the Navigator 500 is compatible with our software – both on the technology side and in terms of added value for our customers. For example, interaction between experts worldwide and service technicians on site must be guaranteed, as must access to the additional modules we offer, such as step-by-step instructions, 3D Manager or manuals.
As it turned out, the RealWear Navigator is an ideal tool for remote maintenance cases. Both hands remain free for work on machines and systems, while an expert guides the service technician through troubleshooting in an interactive video conference.
The decisive factor for the audiovisual connection is the video quality. Full HD resolution with a frame rate of 60 fps enables smooth transmission, providing the expert with a clear representation of the problem.
Voice control and integrated noise cancellation create optimal conditions for fluent communication between the expert and the technician, even in noisy environments such as construction sites or production facilities.
Like the HMT-1 back then, the Navigator 500 is also convincing – a worthy next generation of RealWear.