One of the next big things may be smart glasses. After all, the mobile ecosystem continually is concerned with improving the user interface. Augmented reality combined with mobility seems to be a no-brainer. Superimposing salient information about what a wearer of these super-expensive cheaters is seeing will find an essentially endless list of enthusiastic uses in the medical, gaming, entertainment, education, commerce and industrial segments.
The year ahead may see smart glasses come into focus. Datamation reports that several projects are likely to come to fruition during 2013. The highest profile is Google Glass. The idea, according to the story, is to allow folks to focus both on reality and to the information the device is projecting:
For example, you could tell Google Glass to give you the names and contact histories of anyone you're talking to. Just as you engage in phone calls now while you're walking around, Google Glass would enable you to do the same thing with video calls.
Other projects, Datamation points out, include Vuzix’s Smart Glasses M100 and the HC1 from Motorola (which now, of course, is owned by Google).
An initiative not mentioned was posted about late last month at the BBC website. It said that in May 2011 Microsoft’s Xbox Incubation unit applied for a patent on smart glasses technology. The explanation suggests a limited use in sports viewership, at least initially.
The glasses would enable wearers to get salient information — such as the number of yards needed for a first down or the ball and strike count on a batter — without turning his or her head to look at the scoreboard and thereby possibly miss some action. It may not or may not be important in terms of an indication of Microsoft’s attention to detail, but the graphic from the patent application shows a baseball scene through the glasses. The batter at the plate for some reason is the great Willie Randolph — who was right-handed (not left, as in the graphic) and retired in 1992.
The Market Oracle’s DK Matai offers some context on the topic:
Although they are each taking slightly different approaches to these technologies, Apple, Google and Microsoft are all striving to define the market for wearable computers of which computerised glasses are an integral part. The US military, especially the Special Forces units, already use wearable computers for communications and satellite navigation tasks. That technology hasn't yet reached consumer or business users, but it soon will. Smart glasses are due to be launched selectively in the New Year.
An example of the type of task smart glasses would perform is taking pictures of a newborn or infant. Smart glasses, Matai suggests, could be used in those instances — which often are lost as folks fumble with their cameras. It also is a more natural and unobtrusive way to capture the moment.
The baby example is useful because it is obvious. There are millions of ways that smart glasses and AR can be combined and used. They will drive the attention of IT departments and the public during the year ahead.