Eyeglasses have been used for centuries to enhance vision up to 20/20. Now, as 2020 approaches, internet pioneers and eyeglass manufacturers are joining forces to make the one-trick pony glasses even smarter.
What is a smart pair of glasses? They are a way to integrate the wireless connectivity and imaging that we use on our smartphones and computers into our frames and lenses.
We can’t imagine living without our mobile phones or laptops any longer. Soon, we will be able to enjoy the same connectivity and versatility from our glasses and contact lenses. This is quite an eye-opener, wouldn’t you agree?
Google Glass paves the way
Google Glass Explorer was the first to introduce this vision of eyewear, and it was launched by Google in 2013. It aims to continue the success of smart watches and other wireless wearable devices.
Google pulled the Explorer from the market after 18 months because it was too expensive, awkward, and geeky for most people ($1,500).
How smart glasses work
Google Glass proved to be a worthy archetype for smart glasses that other tech players would soon improve. Here’s how Google Glass managed to slip the smarts into smart glasses.
- Sound The speaker that allows wireless audio inputs and mobile phone reception is located at the end of the earrest(s). Audio is transmitted to the ear by bone conduction, not air conduction through an audio canal.
- Smarts The central processing device (CPU), computer brain, is located on the arm of one eye rest.
- Mic: A microphone that can be used for voice searches and cellphone conversations is located under one hinge. Smart glasses now include a microphone and a micro speaker to receive audio feedback and notifications. You can also listen to music and podcasts with the mic.
- Projector & Prism: This projection method, also known as curved mirror, or curved-mirror combiner, is located above the upper lens. It offers partially transparent digital displays that don’t obscure the real-world view. An alternative version is now available from some manufacturers, called waveguide and holographic optics. Smart glasses are unlockable by digital overlays of text and images within the field of view.
- Camera Although a common feature in the selfie age, the camera lens on the temple of Google Glasses introduced a new experience: privacy concerns. Explorer may have been disappointed that their photos and videos were being taken without their consent. This reaction may have contributed to Explorer’s decision to leave. Smart manufacturers make small camera lenses that fit discreetly within the frames of their products. However, some companies, such as Focals by North or Vue, offer camera-less models.
Powered by touch, speech or thoughts
The many ways you can control smart glasses may be as captivating as their visual overlays.
Instead of using a keyboard and mouse, smart glasses can be controlled by tapping, touching and swiping the controls. We can also verbalize our requests to Alexa or Siri and/or direct its displays through our phones or wearable devices like Focals by North’s ring ring.
Smart glasses makers also have other options, such as gesture recognition of head and eye movements, such as nodding, looking up or down, or directing via eye tracking. We can even control our glasses with our thoughts! ).
Smart glasses and better vision
Developers have also not overlooked the obvious visual function of all glasses: seeing is better.
Many models incorporate liquid crystal technology that allows users to adjust the brightness of their smart lenses.
Filtering brightness, a technological leap from transitional or photochromic lenses, could replace sunglasses.
Increasing style, lowering price, adding AR
Smart glasses have made some progress with fashionable models like the Jins MEME and Meta Pro. Their limited functionality and sleek design are a mixed blessing. However, their price is also a factor.
What is the future of smart glasses? The recent partnership between Facebook and Luxottica, Ray-Ban’s parent company, has shown promise. Orion is an augmented-reality collaboration code.
Orion is said to be designed to replace smartphones. It will use AR technology to live-stream digital images and voice control via a Siri-like digital assistant. Orion is expected on the market in 2023 to 2025.
Bose and Apple are major tech companies that are also interested in smart glasses. They could be a game-changer for the next decade.
Although Apple’s T228 project details are still a mystery, it is believed to focus on combining virtual reality and augmented reality in a headset much like it did with its ARKit platform for iPhone designers.
Bose, a leading audio brand, is currently working to link sound-based AR and motion sensors with GPS data to create three-dimensional real time navigation and virtual streets tours of attractions like bars and restaurants.
Amazon is offering an invitation-only Amazon Echo frame ($179.99), which will allow you to put Alexa on prescription eyeglasses.
C/net reports that the glasses are similar to normal glasses but can discreetly speak Alexa’s answers through small speakers placed near your ears. To get more information, reminders, and other smart home gear while you’re on the move, swipe the side of your glasses.
You can set a filter to limit the number of notifications that you receive via your eyeglasses. This will ensure you don’t get bombarded by every email, phone call, or doorbell ring.
Smart glasses: Challenges and issues
Smart glasses will succeed because of several factors:
Education: This will allow the public to not only learn how to use the new tools right in front of their eyes but also how to adapt to and respond to the influx wireless data, images, and audio from their suddenly sentient glasses.
Vision awareness: Eyeglasses should continue to perform their primary function of correcting vision. Smart glasses users will need to maintain their vision health as they adjust to the new mixed imagery.
Safety: Smart sunglasses have the potential to distract the wearer which could lead to increased danger for others, especially when driving. Even before Google Glass hit the streets, Great Britain had banned the use Google Glass while driving.
Security: Be aware that your smart glasses could not protect any personal information you may have. Socially awkward, you might also be filming or taking photos of others without their consent.
Fashion: Appearance was a major problem for the geeky-looking Google Glass. The future smart glasses should be fashionable and stylish thanks to advances in wireless technology.
One thing is certain with all the smart glasses technology that is on the horizon: We will soon never look at or through eyeglasses in the same way.