As the ripples caused by Google Glass’ withdrawal of the Explorer programme fade, there is still debate going on about what an acceptable wearable technology looks like
One of the key phases of any new technology is public acceptance. Google Glass seemingly had insurmountable barriers in its current format – technical flaws and the perception that users were spying on others without their knowledge. After speaking to a regular Glass wearer and developer among others at MoJoCon 2015 (the first global conference on Mobile Journalism) in Dublin, it seems that the spying charge could have been lifted with a simple ‘tally’ light that would show others if the wearer was recording video.
Augmented reality and virtual reality are still in their commercial infancy and have so much to offer that it is inconceivable to think that goggles or headsets or some other innovative headwear won’t become widely acceptable and useful in public and working life. Developers are feverishly working behind the scenes to create both AR and VR experiences that will make it not just acceptable, but attractive.
Don the Spaceglasses
Meta’s Spaceglasses may look a little cumbersome but after watching a demo at the Wearable Technology Show (WTS) I was a little bit awestruck by the technology. Geek, you cry. Let me tell you that the ability to manipulate digital objects in the real world could vastly improve the gaming experience for one, and countless other professional and social applications from surgery or finding mechanical faults, through to fitness programmes, choosing clothing or furniture.
People like Kayvan Mirza, CEO of French company Optinvent, advocate redesigning the whole concept of smart glasses and headwear. Its Ora smart glasses are the professional model, while the new Ora-X is a set of stereo headphones with a flip-down viewscreen and is more for consumer and leisure use. Tech site Ubergizmo named the Ora-X one of its ‘best of CES 2015’. Kayvan was adamant that Glass was the wrong way to introduce headwear tech to the consumer market, because nobody wants to look like a cyborg.
Headwear cameras could prove to be extremely popular. Companies have seen how Glass failed to optimise its video potential with its low-resolution sensor and small lens, but entrepreneurs like Pivothead – whose cam glasses are inexpensive and better spec video-wise than Glass – could cash in. At WTS 2015 a UK company called Lyte had its cam glasses on display. Smart fashionable shades in a variety of colours and sporting an 8MP camera with micro-SD storage for 1080p video. Not bad at all.
Coding with Light
Prototypes at WTS included an intriguing range of smart eye protection goggles from German company Inoptec. Specialising in laser technology means Inoptec has developed passive and active eye protection that reacts in microseconds to changes in light, ensuring constant viewing capability even in battle situations. Some of the applications that Inoptec’s goggles could be useful for include high performance driving, surgery with intense pulsed light, welding and other mechanics, fire-fighting, flying aircraft, and in battle – where flash grenades or dazzlers are used, or for close hand-to-hand combat where soldiers go from bright sunlight to darkness.