If you’re anything like me (or even if you’re not) you may have, at some point, stopped to think, “Wow, new technology develops so quickly these days, it’s like living in the future!” Or something along those lines.
Perhaps you didn’t sound as gleefully simple as I did.
However, regardless of how we sound when we make the observation, it doesn’t change the fact that we are indeed living in a world that our families 20 or 30 years ago couldn’t have imagined.
Evermore, futuristic gadgets are put on sale each month and existing technologies are regularly given technological upgrades to improve their performance and functionality.
And there is no indication that this trend will begin to slow.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
In our lifetime, we’ve seen the mobile telephone go from a chunky rectangle that can send text messages, barely receive signal and a battery life that could outlast a volcanic winter to a sleek, glass rectangle that can send text messages, barely receive signal and has a battery life that could just about outlast an episode of Coronation Street, while also having the ability to access the entirety of humanity’s collective knowledge through an internet connection.
Smartphones and the internet have revolutionized the telecommunications industry and allowed developers and consumers to reshape the way we use mobile phones and access the internet.
Now, with the emergence of technologies such as Google Glass and Snapchat Spectacles, could the same be true for eyewear?
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the potential applications for eyewear in the future, and looking on current prototypes and similar innovations for a sense of direction as to where further technological development could take eyewear.
As we’re dealing with the potential for innovation in the area of eyewear, we could get a little suppositional with our predictions.
However, we will be looking to actual products or prototypes to keep us tethered to what is reasonable to predict.
So, let’s start by jumping straight in to how eyewear could be used in the future, starting with how we could interact with products of the future using our eyewear.
These days, adverts are everywhere.
They mark huge billboards in the street, clock countless television hours, even that scrabble app on your phone has become inundated with them.
This is because adverts work, and they work because of how they introduce the possibility of the viewer owning or using the product that is being advertised.
Relying on the imagination of consumers is a great marketing and advertising tactic, but, with interactive, Internet of Things (IoT)-connected eyewear, there could be a better one.
With smart eyewear, shoppers could scan items they find online, gloves for example, and, using a built-in digital heads-up display (HUD), could take advantage of motion capture sensors and create a digital representation of what their hands would look like wearing the scanned gloves.
While this may sound like science-fiction upon first reading, we do actually have the fundamental technologies required for this technology today.
With a little refinement, these technologies could be used to create blueprints for eyewear of this kind, then, after further development, we could see a working prototype.
If you’re still unsure about the feasibility of such projects, look around at the technology you are already using.
Motion capture in certain Snapchat filters allows for the layering of images upon moving features, Google Glass glasses came with a built in HUD as do many VR headsets while in use.
These are all readily available today with the exception of Google Glass, and even there the rumblings of a comeback can be heard.
Workplace enhancement is the area in which true “smart glasses” will most likely be born.
Over the years, businesses have adopted the latest technological advancements in order to improve performance and output as well as streamline processes.
This is clear through the wide adoption of robotics and automation across various different industries and, in the age of “smart glasses,” we should expect the very same.
From architecture and interior design to engineering and aerospace, there are so many potential applications for workplace enhancement via eyewear that it become difficult to pin down just a few.
Virtualized workspaces, instantaneous communications, and video sharing, holographic presentations, and showcases as well as various other enhancements both technological and practical.
For a taste of what the future may hold, check out what the clever clogs over at Microsoft are doing with their new HoloLens offering.
By using some of the tech we’ve discussed, they’ve been able to create what appears to be the first step towards the future of smart eyewear and workplace enhancement.
While some may argue that the HoloLens actually represents a headset rather than eyewear, we can still clearly see how this technology, once it is further finessed, will affect the development of wearable tech as a whole.
When smartphones and computers get smaller every year, who’s to say the same won’t be true of all wearable tech?
Check out this video from Microsoft to see just what the HoloLens can do:
Science & Medicine
Eyewear designed to help those in the medical profession do their jobs better is no new invention.
From glasses with built-in magnification to lenses that are coloured a certain way so as to make veins easier to find, there is no shortage of applications for eyewear in science and medicine.
With the implementation of digital HUDs and IoT connectivity, eyewear catering to the science and medicine could become an everyday reality.
Imagine a surgeon that can see your body’s internal layout without the need for invasive surgery, or microbiologists that can observe the behaviour of bacteria without needing a microscope or other magnification device.
With internet-connected smart eyewear, these situations could become everyday occurrences.
Even more useful could be the application of smart glasses in medical training.
Cadavers and working models of the body are currently used to train would-be doctors and nurses.
However, how much easier and accessible could that training be if the trainees had information about their current training module live streamed to or recorded by their personal eyewear HUD?
Revision could be done through video and audio playback of previous training sessions while smart eyewear would also allow for instantaneous communication for tutoring and questions, like Skype for your glasses.
Film, TV & Gaming
Film and gaming appear to be where wearable tech seem to be getting the most traction recently.
With various tech suppliers unveiling their latest VR headset and 3D capable offerings, one would be forgiven for thinking that this is where this technology will remain.
However, with 3D films gradually being accepted as more than just a phase, how long will it be until the use of eyewear to enhance film and television experience is even further capitalized on.
3D glasses are one thing, but what if you could watch a film with all its 3D imagery through your own pair of smart specs?
How long will it be until we see eyewear with media server capability whereby films, tv and music can all be streamed directly to your shades and viewed through lens screens or heard through built-in speakers?
If you’re looking for a pair of sunglasses that aren’t so technologically advanced, check out these Savannah S8122 sunglasses:
There are, of course, a plethora of applications for future eyewear that we have not touched upon, however, if we don’t see at least one of the innovations mentioned in this article come about over the next ten years, we’ll be very, very surprised.
So what do you think?
Are there any obvious applications that we’ve missed?
Do you think the rise of smart glasses is inevitable or are you a little more conservative in your estimations?
Sound off and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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