Apple CEO Tim Cook, on multiple occasions, said Apple finds augmented reality to be “interesting.” That may be about all we hear on Apple’s version of augmented reality smartglasses until he stands on stage and walks through the first public presentation of Apple Glasses.
Say what? Haven’t smartglasses been pretty much a big failure so far? Look at what the Borg-like Google Glass did in the marketplace. Hillary Clinton did better and she failed, right? What does Apple plan to do with glasses and augmented reality? Look no farther than Apple Watch.
Style, Meet Future Tech
Augmented reality is already here and as a technology is growing in leaps and bounds. Can you say, Pokémon GO? There it is.
Augmented reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.
That’s plenty of techno-babble-speak for a pair of glasses which lets you see what’s in front of you, as glasses tend to do, but also see objects and text overlaid; technology that adjusts based upon where you are, what you see, applications and settings.
What about Google Glass? Wasn’t that a big augmented reality failure? Yep. Why? Google made it far too futuristic and forgot about a few issues that helped to bring it down, including, a) a Borg-like style when people want stylish but unobtrusive eyewear, and, b) spy-wear (everyone knew you were capable of taking photos or movies and no one likes having a pervy geek doing that.
What Kind Of ‘Glasses?’
Glasses, just like a watch, are both stylish and utilitarian which is why Apple Watch has become such a success. It looks great– thanks to a growing variety of easily interchangeable bands– and is completely utilitarian in that it becomes an external extension to iPhone capability, just as both iPhone and iPad have taken functionality away from the confines of a Mac or Windows PC and made them more portable and mobile.
So, let’s call it what it will be. Apple Glasses. They will differ from Google Glass in the ways that Apple makes everything different than what competitors do. First, it will be an extension of the iPhone (initially you’ll need an iPhone to make it work, but in the future Apple Glasses, just as Watch will be, will be fully standalone). Second, Glasses will be available in a variety of glass frames and styles, both in clear lenses and eventually prescription lenses (likely in concert with a major optometry chain). So, in many respects, Apple Watch is a precursor to another Apple wearable with entirely different functionality.
What will Glasses do? Augmented reality; application images which appear on the screen in the lenses that match up with what you see through the lenses, all within your field of vision. Apple Glasses will do what Google Glass did not.
They will be stylish, like Apple Watch, with a variety of frame options that will look– as did Watch– more traditional but modern. As with Watch, battery life will be sufficient for a full day. Glasses will be wireless to connect to the iPhone. What about a camera to take video? Yes, but that may be optional or perhaps tied into the iPhone. They won’t be cheap. This is Apple, right? But Glasses will be less expensive than Google Glass, and won’t frighten anyone who comes into the user’s field of vision.
Apple did not invent the smartphone, but it changed the direction of the devices, set the standard for the future; one that competitors follow and copy. The same happened to the tablet, the smartwatch, and the same will happen to smartglasses.