Posted by Ashleigh Allsopp 14 January 2015
I'm finally excited about smartglasses & you should be too
When I first saw the Google Glass I really didn't get it. Many people hate wearing glasses as it is, so why would we want to wear huge, clunky glasses that don't actually help our vision just to get information displayed right in front of our eyes?
Then I tried it out for the video review you can see above, and I thought, ok I think I'm starting to get it. It's clever, it actually can be useful for navigation and even for taking a quick photo, but is it really worth all of the unwanted attention from passers by and the whopping price tag of £1,000 just to find a slightly speedier route without using my smartphone? Or beating my jogging time record because of the fear of getting eaten by zombies? (This will explain). Not really.
But my first experience of Google Glass did make me think: this could actually be the future. If adoption becomes widespread enough that wearing smartglasses doesn't make you feel silly, they could be far more useful than smartwatches. After all, smartwatches still offer very similar capabilities as smartphones, just in a more convenient place. Smartglasses, on the other hand, could change the way we view the world and the way we interact with it.
During CES 2015, I had the opportunity to try three different pairs of smartglasses: Toshiba Glass, Sony SmartEyeglass and Sony SmartEyeglass Attach (click them to be transported to my hands-on reviews).
I came away from them feeling actually quite excited. One of the apps being shown off by Sony was a speech translation app, which made me imagine what life would be like if everyone wore smartglasses.
Picture this: you go to a country where your knowledge of the language is minimal, to say the least. Ordinarily, speaking to a local would involve strangely accented English (why do we always think this will help!?) and flamboyant gestures that probably make no sense at all. If you were both wearing smartglasses you could speak to them in English, which would be automatically translated into their language (let's say Japanese) for them to read on their smartglass display. They can then speak back to you in Japanese and you'd immediately be able to read it in English. Cool, right?
Speech recognition is getting better by the day, so all it would take is for the technology to be built into smartglasses and for smartglasses to be adopted around the world, which is certainly feasible when you consider the uptake of smartphones and tablets, and recently selfie sticks (which in my opinion make you look far more stupid than smartglasses do).
While you're in Japan, you might want to visit some of the coolest, quirkiest places, or the places that serve the best food. Instead of trying to find out where those places are using your smartphone or a guide book, you could launch an app on your smartglasses that shows you where those places are as you look around, and offers up a crowd-sourced star rating, so you'd immediately be able to spot where the five star places are and head in that direction.
Perhaps one of those places is a museum, and that museum has a dedicated smartglasses app available to download for free. That app could act as your tourguide, displaying information directly beside artifacts or paintings, for example, pointing to specific areas of interest.
A vase that has a big chunk missing from it and has faded in colour could be brought back to life using virtual reality, for instance, or famous figures could appear in front of your eyes wearing the very outfit that's in the display case.
I think we're still a long way off from this future I'm imagining, but the more I think about it, the more I think it's plausible. After all, there's going to come a time when smartphones aren't enough for us, and smartglasses could be the next big thing. We'll be looking back at 2015 thinking: remember when we had to get our smartphones out of our pocket and look down at them? Pfft, what fools - how did we manage?
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