In 2013, the semi-secret research and development facility Google X started selling a prototype of Google Glass. This wearable device was arguably the world’s first supplemental reality “smart eyeglasses.”
The glasses allowed users to perform a number of applications. Those uses included accessing Google Maps, translation services, Gmail, photo manipulation and facial recognition functions.
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Reasons Google Glass Didn’t Catch On: Privacy Concerns, Lack of Fashion and Price
The most flashy and controversial feature of Google Glass was its ability to record video while a user wore the glasses. Privacy advocates immediately sounded the alarm.
The glasses were banned from movie theaters and casinos, two industries that frown on video recording. People sitting across from a Google Glass user began to feel uneasy as the glasses could be capturing photos or videos at any time.
Another big drawback to Google Glass was its fashion sense. A wearable must be stylish as well as functional.
The final nail in the coffin was the price: a staggering $1,500. For many, that price was too high for glasses which never made it out of the prototype stage, didn’t look good to wear and had privacy experts up in arms.
Wearable Devices Much More Popular Today
Seven years later, watch wearables are the norm. Apple is the number one wearable band maker with a 37.9% market share for its Apple Watch. Fitbit, Samsung, and Garmin aren’t far behind.
Today, tens of millions of Americans wear technology as an extension of their body. It seems people are growing more comfortable with the idea of wearables. At the very least, advancements in technology since the days of Google Glass have suppressed the privacy argument in favor of the benefits that some wearables bring.
Are Smart Wearable Glasses Going to Come Back?
But is the world ready to give smart glasses another shot?
Thanks to the popularity of augmented reality apps on mobile devices and Microsoft’s extensive work developingits “mixed-reality” HoloLens platform, augmented reality has finally hit the prime time.
Not to be confused with virtual reality systems like the
Oculus Rift, which completely immerses you in a virtual world, augmented reality layers information from the internet on top of reality.
Imagine glancing at a restaurant as you walk by and get a real-time feed of their most recent ratings and Yelp reviews or even their menu. Envision never getting lost again as GPS information gets displayed directly on the road in front of you as you drive.
The potential benefits and applications to healthcare or engineering are particularly interesting. A doctor could be fed vital information about her patient as she is performing surgery or a mechanical engineer could more easily perform his job without needing piles of tech manuals.
The practical convenience that augmented reality brings to our lives means that the internet, once a digital prisoner, will escape into the real world; it is simply a matter of time. The potential applications for AR are limitless.
Wearable.com has a complete list of what they consider to be the best AR glasses and smart glasses for 2020. The list includes some big names like Amazon and Snap, and the list also includes a number of startup manufacturers looking to break into the wearables market.
Today, the wearables market, including glasses, is valued at $25 billion. Worldwide wearable shipments surged 95% in Q3 2019.
The race is on to enhance our lives with wearable technology. The cutting edge of this race is the quest to bring augmented reality to the masses for mainstream use throughout our everyday lives.
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