You have Glass, congratulations. When Google Glass came out in 2013, they were ahead of their time. But they didn’t last for several reasons. To do anything, you had to tilt your head and say “ok glass”. Or use the touchpad. They were also expensive, clunky, and most importantly, people didn’t know why they needed them. Google eventually reinvented the glasses as a tool for professionals. They’re not sold directly to consumers, they’re not a mainstream product. But what’s around the corner is meant to appeal to the masses. The small and mighty Apple Watch has marked a trend with Apple’s devices.
They’re getting more personal. From the iMac to the Macbook. The idea for the iPad led to the iPhone, even though the smartphone technically came out first. And then, the smartwatch. The next big product will be the most personal of them all. A normal-looking pair of glasses – perhaps like these – is the future of augmented reality. AR blends the actual world with the virtual one. The glasses will bring information from your phone to your face so you’ll be able to see texts, emails, and more on both lenses without anyone else around you being able to see what’s on your screen. The glass are said to be controlled with gestures. A patent also describes how the device could recognize blinking, smiling, or raising your eyebrows by tracking the movement of the attached light sensors.
Typically, an augmented reality experience would require cameras to make sense of the surroundings. However, the glasses won’t come with one due to fears of people being secretly recorded. Apple has always taken a strong stance on privacy and saw the backlash when Google included a camera. But they will still be able to “see” thanks to a revolutionary piece of technology that’s already in the new iPhone 12 Pro and the latest iPad Pro. LiDAR scanner, which remains for Ranging and light detection. If you’ve heard of it before it might be due to self-driving cars, which use LiDAR to detect its surroundings. The scanner gauges distance and depth by beaming out laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor.
This can be leveraged on the iPhone to take better quality photos at night and could be used in the glasses to help us see better in the dark. More importantly, LiDAR opens up a world of possibilities for enhancing the AR experience. When it first came to the iPad, virtual objects could be placed precisely on top of real ones. In the same way, the glasses could overlay directions on top of your view of real life. It remains to be seen what standout feature or app using AR will entice people to want to get their hands on a pair. Based on its history, Apple hasn’t had a problem convincing people to buy its products. The company’s arguably greatest strength is that customers trust in the quality of what they’re getting, even something as odd-looking as AirPods. Just like the AirPods, the glasses will connect to the iPhone.
Since the phone does the processing, the smart glasses won’t have as much material packed into them – keeping them slim, lightweight, and less expensive. One of the major problems with Google Glass was that it was $1,500. If we look at the first generation of some Apple products that became a smashing success, they were significantly less. The iPad launched at $499. The Apple Watch started at $349. So it wouldn’t be surprising for the glasses to be priced around a similar range. Those with prescription lenses will cost slightly more – if they’re even needed. A patent shows self-correcting lenses automatically adjusting to suit users’ eyes. There apparently won’t be a version for sunglasses, for now, as tinted lenses would interfere with reading the information properly on-screen. This is just the first-generation model so future ones could come up with a solution. And like the first-generation of any product, it may not have the longest battery life.
A major selling point would be if it could last a whole waking day, just like the Apple Watch. It will most certainly be charged wirelessly, as all of Apple’s products move toward a port-free world. So, the big question is, when will they be released? Some who have been following the company closely estimate 2022 or 2023 are safe bets, and possibly as early 2021 – the same year Facebook plans to release its first pair of smart glasses. The social media giant has partnered with the maker of Ray-Bans. These are not the smart glasses but a research tool to help develop the product. Facebook released a video showing the endless ways AR can be helpful in everyday life, from reminding you where you left your keys to pointing out recommendations when you walk into a store.
Though it’s unclear if the first pair will have all of these functions. Facebook has already ventured into the eyewear world. In September, it unveiled the second generation Oculus Quest – a virtual reality headset. VR is different from AR because users are taken out of the real-world experience completely and put into a simulated one. Apple is believed to be working on a headset as well, reportedly combining both AR and VR. t’s meant for gaming, streaming videos, and video conferencing so this will be more of a specialized product whereas the smart glasses are an everyday wearable meant to appeal to a wider audience. Apple is banking on them to finally make augmented reality eyewear mainstream. They may not be something we thought we ever needed. They may end up being something that we want.
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