In recent years, nothing has caught the attention of consumers, tech enthusiasts as well as a variety of business industries quite like the traction of wearable, digital technology. In the era we live in, knowledge is doubling every 13 months, and by 2020, it will double every 12 hours. With a flood of information like this, it’s no surprise why every gadget that affects our daily lives is getting smarter. Smart phones, smart watches, and most notably: smart glasses have been a new area of investment for various industries, and there is certainly good reason for it.
Where Are We Currently With Smart Glasses
In the present day, smart glasses can do pretty much anything that the average smartphone can. Even with aesthetically appealing external features, a pair of smart glasses gives you complete access of your social networking apps and allows you to set up voice and video chats with friends easily.
These digital devices are often used by professional athletes to track their speed or altitude, they help every day individuals, like you, to navigate around various locations and they are even used by organizational management to provide crucial and interactive data to their employees, whether in the field or at the office. The advantage with smart glasses is that they bring all the conveniences of a smartphone out of your pocket and right into your peripheral vision with features easily accessible by voice control, slight eye movements or a single button.
What Brought Our Attention to This Device?
One of the most notable eyewear concepts that certainly brought light to the category of smart glasses, was the Google Glass (or simply the Glass). Introduced to tech lovers all over the world in 2013 with an array of savvy features such as instant communication, navigation and other on innovative developments, Google the eyes and ears of the media. An idea that simply started out as a scuba mask on a laptop evolved into a device that had the potential of integrating reality with digital information.
The simple premise behind the Google Glass was to create a hands-free wearable device that could allow you to send messages, take pictures, record video and look up content on the Internet using voice commands. Although technologically impressive, the product gained skepticism due to privacy concerns over the idea that you could take pictures or record a video of people around you.
As part of the transition of Google’s development team from Google X to a new and independent unit, the Google Glass Edition faced a number of discrepancies and thus, the Glass project was paused in January 2015.
That pause certainly hasn’t slowed down rivals in the smart glass market from taking the lead with innovative digital eyewear that is gaining traction quite fast. Here are a few of the outstanding models of eyewear that are currently revolutionizing our idea of visual experiences:
Smart Glasses for Daily Life: Shima™
They look and even feel like an everyday pair of glasses, with no visible external components. With a closer look through the lenses of this pair, one will certainly see something quite extraordinary. This pair comes with embedded components such as a camera, a microphone, battery and all the aesthetic appeal of a set of quality eyeglasses. Created by LaForge, a Digital Eyewear Company, the Shima™ is a new line of smart glasses that relay notifications from your smartphone and overlay them in your line of sight.
So What Can You Do With It?
Designed with an Android, Windows Mobile and iOS compatible operating system, the pair of digital glasses seamlessly synchronizes with your mobile phone via Bluetooth connection and projects small virtual widgets that are focused on your retinas. Unlike traditional clip-on smart glasses, the major advantage of the Shima™ line is that all of the electronics of the devices are integrated into the temples of the glasses, giving you a more stylish and comfortable feel. Click on the rear to change modes, swipe against the frames on your right with two fingers to change panes, hold the front button to record a video, and there is even a drive mode that gives you instant notifications for when you exceed speed limits. It’s granted, with this digital genie, there’s plenty more than meets the eye.
Smart Glasses for Sport: Recon
The Recon Jet
There is definitely something for the adrenaline junkies to look out for as far as innovation goes, and with good reason. They call it The Recon Jet, and it might actually be the official debut of future immortalized endurance athletes. Manufactured by Recon, the idea behind the Jet is to create a flexible performance metric system for runners, cyclists and many more. With the knowledge that there are already existing head-worn fitness devices as well as the existence of head-worn computers, the Recon Jet brings the technology of both existing devices into one device.
A Bit about The Features
Although there was some concern expressed before the initial release of the model about the external structure of the glasses, which seemed rather bulky, the model’s specifications did not disappoint.
Like many other smart glasses, it works perfectly with Android and iOS smartphones and easily connects via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (through its MOD Live app). The display in your peripheral view alerts you of any incoming calls, text messages and even gives you control over your music player, and best of all, the Jet has a remarkable battery life, especially for those long runs. Have friends who have the Jet on while you do? Jet can provide you with their location and activities if they have the feature on.
The Jet also comes with a piece of software called Recon Uplink which allows you to connect it with your computer, and upload your activities onto the Recon Engage website which, in addition to being a place to share your activities, is where you can download apps for the glasses. This amazing hands-free device simply gives fitness lovers, such as yourself, an excellent tracking system for your progress and control over the rest of your life while you do it.
Smart Glasses for Enterprises: Vuzix
It is the 21st century’s introduction to unparalleled innovation with the primary purpose to provide access to accurate information, data collection… oh and so much more. This digitally advanced pair of smart glasses is ergonomically designed to enhance workflow dynamics through a set of instant visual communication capabilities and access to instructions and guidelines. This total game changing machine goes by the name Vuzix M300.
Let’s See What You Can Do With It
The technology behind the M300 design is integrated onto a core platform using the Intel Atom processor, thereby allowing data to be exchanged instantly and accurately on a single platform. The glasses come with pre-installed apps that enable you to conveniently track calendar events and even connect with your mobile through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity. With expandable memory, HD recording and bar-code scanning capabilities, the M300 introduces a hands-free and convenient approach to product tracking, and more visual ways to keep record of tasks. With such powerful innovation, it’s no wonder enterprises are seeking ways to incorporate this device in various business functions.
GPS Tracking and Resistance
Following the popularity of the release of the Vuzix M100, the M300 is designed with enhanced functionality. With its built-in head tracking GPS system that provides installed apps with your location as well as the direction of your current view, this Vuzix model ensures situational awareness at all times.
Control has never been so simple than with Vuzix’s M300, with easy to use voice, button press and gesture controls to access features while your hands are hard at work. The full proof water and dust resistant materials provide you with a safe and comfortable wear in just about any working space. Interested in getting your hands on the M300, well Vuzix has now opened up a pre-order deposit program to guarantee you your very own set of smart glasses during the first shipment of the product, this summer of 2016.
In light of the range of smart glass releases over the past three years and their varying capabilities, what can we expect to be see through a pair of lenses in the near future? Well certainly the expansion of human potential in every industry. Just a year ago a team of researchers at the University of Rochester developed an interesting addition to smart glasses: Rhema, in collaboration with Google. The system was created with the aim of enhancing the public speaking ability of individuals. It served as an interface integrated on to a smart glass operating system to provide real-time feedback to a speaker on volume modulation and speaking rate, while being minimally distracting.
With the on-going experimentation of fields such as eye-brain connection that are introducing us to the first ever eye-interaction technology solutions for smart glasses, there can only be more eye-dropping innovation to come as digital innovation evolves. Companies like Eyefluence are determined to engineer human-computer interaction through Augmented which could present opportunities for Hospital nurses to get instant access to patient data and Virtual Reality opportunities which could introduce the next generation of millennials to a completely new way of learning. In the meantime, let’s keep a lookout.
Virtual reality (VR) technology is no longer just for gamers or techies interested in the next big thing. Decreasing costs, scalability and interest from researchers have moved VR onto the healthcare radar as well.
-David Lee Scher (MD is Director at DLS Healthcare Consulting and a thought leader in digital health)