Smart Glasses

Wearable computers are becoming reality

Few years ago Wired magazine featured Brad Pitt on the front cover. Pitt was wearing one of these bluetooth phone headset on his ear.  The magazine’s point was that if it did not look good on Brad Pitt, it does not look good on you. People that wear these headsets are called bluedouche, since having these devices in your face is kind of uncool. In fact, there is almost only one thing you can put on your face and look cool – sunglasses. But what if you could add computing power, both visual and audio to glasses. That’s what Google is trying with the new Google Glasses. We are beginning the era of wearable computers but it might take some time to become as good as we expect.

The idea of a computer you take with your everywhere you go is not new. People carry mp3 players like iPods and smartphones with them all the time, even laptops and tablets. What is new is that the computer is becoming ubiquitous and integrated into your being. You are just always connected.

If you think about the timing, it all fits. The idea of wearable computers have been around for years but now you can have an industrial strength computing power on a device that is the size of a fingernail. Put this power into glasses with a display in front. This is like taking the smartphone and transforming it into glasses. The screen becomes the view, speakers are in the back near your ears, and you can easily talk and give voice commands.

Google has been working on Google Glasses for some time, according to the rumors. Now Google have revealed Project Glass, a wearable smart augmented reality device. This has even hit the mainstream media. There are lot of things unclear about this technology or if it works as smooth as just wearing glasses. It might be a tough order for Google to live up to the exceptions they have created with the concept video they have released:

However, research on wearable displays has been going on for years with many clunky and uncool prototypes. Google is not the first company to show a prototype of wearable glasses. Lumus demonstrated wearable displays at CES 2012 and even allowed people to try them on. It seems that we now have adjacent possible moment for these types of things so we can expect more to come.

But is this too much? The smartphone has changed the habit of many people. It is always on, exposing you to the world. What if you have glasses on that are always showing you information – weather temperature, email messages, places of interest and so on. Maybe augmented reality is too much reality, but it remains to be seen. We have seen computers change form factors, from desktops to tablets and smartphones. We are now seeing the smartphone transform into something you can wear.

Reading the reviews, the discussion of this technology is in many ways similar to the iPad discussion. It was polarized, with people saying nobody would use it and others looking at it as a positive thing. And when they saw the iPad, they just had to get one. If glasses with computing functionality is similar, the era of smart wearable computers is beginning.