Bringing the Future into Focus with Smart Glasses
A new reality is coming, ready to leapfrog us into a new world of immersive experiences. Virtual and Augmented reality promises to change the way we interact with virtual technology. Smart glasses are just one component of this transformation.
Unlike a VR headset, smart glasses usually focus on the “augmented reality” environment. This means that they overlay aspects of the digital world into the real world through your eyewear. Five years on from the creation of Google glass, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Smart glasses are a forgotten idea. However, thanks to the arrival of new technology and 5G connections, an augmented environment could be closer than you’d think.
Companies like Snap Spectacles are offering unique experiences at an affordable price, while Microsoft and Magic Leap take new strides in VR. Apple’s making its way into the sector, and even Facebook has announced a team-up with Ray-Ban on a pair of attractive smart glasses.
So, what does all this mean to the future of work?
AR and smart glasses still face a variety of challenges. Wearing something on your face can be a headache, and we also need to remember that, in many cases, companies have struggled to form a complete connection between the digital and real-world in a way that isn’t distracting or overbearing.
For AR smart glasses to become a reality, they’d need to be efficient, reliable, and comfortable. In an ideal world, you’d be able to ask your assistant to show you a document, and your smart glasses would project that document in front of you instantly, complete with interactivity elements. Smart glasses in this design would make the business world a lot more efficient. You’d be able to see someone talking to you in real-time during a video conference while walking around your office. Checking out a new product or design would be more immersive than ever.
However, the glasses would need to be safe too. The last thing you need is a set of glasses that gets people walking into traffic because they’re too distracted by what’s in front of them.
Fortunately, a new era of effective smart glasses is on the horizon. According to Facebook, it will be launching a new pair of Ray-Ban smart glasses in 2021. The smart glasses are going to pave the way for AR functionality – although they’re not there quite yet.
Facebook’s investment in Oculus and the arrival of the new Oculus Quest highlight how much of a growing position the company has in the landscape for extended reality. Zuckerberg himself says that the company can already see a future where smart glasses become the new smartphone or computer – as connected to our everyday life as those items we use every day.
Facebook already supports a host of enterprise use cases for extended reality, with Oculus for Business which helps with things like fleet management and enterprise-grade customer service and support. Facebook is also launching “Business Channels” which will let ISVs deliver applications straight to customer headsets.
Facebook isn’t the only company investing in a future with smart glasses. North, an eyewear company, recently announced its experimentations with intelligent eyewear, saying that they believe a great pair of glasses is critical to the evolution of the space.
CEO Stephen Lake said that for smart glasses to emerge fully in the business landscape, companies need to ensure that customers can comfortably wear their glasses all day. The North smart glasses will be available in prescription or non-prescription options, with access to various smartphone notifications, and Alexa voice control.
The creators behind the Vuzix Blade smart glasses are on a similar wavelength, creating AR sunglasses that come with a small heads-up display in the right eye. There’s a touch-sensitive panel included for navigation, and touch controls too. The CEO notes that he believes that “sexy glasses” are crucial to making AR eyewear a success.
If the glasses you can access in the future of AR are lightweight and truly wearable, whether you’re in the office or on the beach, then they’re more likely to make an impact. However, there is some argument here that if you want this kind of beautiful smart glasses experience, you might have to compromise on things like extensive functionality.
Companies like Vuzix and North think that AR experiences should be basic – simple features that allow you to spend less time looking at your smartphone. The future of smart glasses might be in small enhancements added to the real world.
So, why are smart glasses gaining so much attention again now? When the Google Glass concept was a flop, many experts argued that the company had attempted to do too much too fast. We didn’t have the right tools or connectivity in place back then to offer the experiences that customers want from their smart eyewear solutions.
That’s not the case anymore. Today’s technology innovators know what it takes to create tiny screens that can offer unique digital enhancements and bring notifications to use in the real world. We know how to design miniature cameras that you can place into a headset or a set of sunglasses so that you can live stream the world around you in real-time.
The technology is evolving, and the opportunities are growing with it. Perhaps the most significant evolution in the AR smart glasses environment is the arrival of 5G. This technology will reduce the latency typically involved with cloud-based services. This is a huge step forward for augmented reality, as it means that your AR camera and sensors can process information and return content at a much faster rate – almost real-time.
Right now, there’s still some work to be done before we have those fantastic AR glasses that we can use for real-time video calls on the move, or immersive internet searches that demand nothing but our voice, and visual attention. However, as innovators like Facebook, North, and Vuzix are proving, there’s not long to go.
A world of smart glasses is coming closer, and there’s every chance that these solutions could become the next big thing – better even than the smartphone.