Back in 2012, the world was buzzing with interest in Google Glass. The next frontier in wearable technology at the time, Google Glass promised consumers the ability to augment their vision with a head-up display rivalling those seen in first-person action games. But Google Glass failed before it could even get to the consumer market. Riddled with bugs and numerous issues that Google wasn’t prepared to go live with, the project was cancelled in 2015.
However, after being revived as a tool for factory workers in 2017, it quickly became apparent that Google Glass was simply ahead of its time. With improved computational power and increased consumer interest in the concept of smart glasses — more than 60% of families in the U.S. are intrigued by augmented reality (AR) technology, and 30% find smart glasses in particular “appealing” — the rise of augmented vision is once again upon us. Facebook is launching its first AR glasses in 2021, and Apple is right behind it with a product named Apple Glass.
This time, though, the technology is there, and consumers are ready. Experts predict that smart glasses will soon be embraced on a mass level, especially by Millennials and Gen Xers.
But what exactly are smart glasses? Read on to find out more, including AR smart glasses use cases for consumers.
What are AR smart glasses?
What if, by wearing a pair of glasses, you could see information superimposed on the real world? This simple concept is the backbone of AR smart glasses. While similar in appearance to regular glasses, AR smart glasses contain powerful computers that provide an overlay of virtual data and enable a new level of portable functionality.
Along with visual cues, smart glasses allow people to receive audio prompts, take pictures, make phone calls, and even record speech.
AR smart glasses use cases for consumers
AR smart glasses use cases are numerous. However, the exact capabilities of smart glasses depend on the model in question.
For example, Snapchat’s Spectacles are excellent for taking photos and videos, but they don’t offer any other functionality. Other smart glasses, such as Bosch Smartglasses Light Drive, literally beam data onto your eyeballs to create a “contextual display” that informs you about your surroundings.
Here are just a few of the most popular uses of smart glasses to give you an idea of what’s possible.
One of the most practical uses of smart glasses is, without a doubt, augmented navigation. On the road, smart glasses will be able to help you find addresses, businesses, and attractions, or to stay on course when you’re on a specific route, regardless of whether you’re travelling by foot, bike, or car. Since about 26% of all car crashes involve cell phones, not needing to pull up Google Maps on your phone while driving could literally save lives.
At specific venues, smart glasses may be programmed to provide visual directions to find everything from ticket booths to different stages to bathrooms.
Sports and outdoor activities
What if you could monitor your heart rate and your vital statistics in real-time without having to check your phone or smartphone? For runners and performance athletes across a variety of sporting activities, having the ability to keep track of the progress of their workout is probably one of the most important AR smart glasses use cases because it provides a new level of personal empowerment.
Through augmented workouts, individuals will be able to easily compete against their own personal records or even run alongside a holographic partner to help keep them inspired.
With Millennials now recognized as the generation that cooks the least yet watches the most cooking shows, smart glasses’ ability to provide real-time, hands-free cooking assistance will be one of the technology’s biggest draws.
Using smart glasses, people will be able to learn new chopping techniques, how to carve a roast, or make sushi at home, all with step-by-step, personalised instructions.
For consumers who enjoy shopping in box stores, having instant access to price comparison features, promotional offers, and reviews is a major advantage. AR smart glasses allow users to access external databases to find information on items, as well as to tap into in-store deals that can appear as shoppers are walking by specific products.
Health-conscious consumers can also use smart glasses to pull up nutritional information on products (without needing to pick up a box — something that might become especially important in a post-COVID-19 world). Perhaps more importantly for some, smart glasses can integrate with in-store navigation systems to direct them to the products on their list, eliminating the possibility of being distracted by junk food or impulse buys.
Speaking of lists, smart glasses could also allow family members at home to add items to shopping lists created through smart glasses’ interface even while their partner is at the store, minimizing the chances that they’ll need to make a second trip because they forgot something. Once they’ve found the item, the shopper can simply tap the side of the frames to cross it off the list.
AR smart glasses are the future
With so much functionality, it’s no surprise that the demand for smart glasses among consumers is only increasing. Facebook (which has partnered with Ray-Ban), Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all moving forward with new smart glasses models to meet this demand.
Analysts are projecting that even more companies will be entering the consumer AR smart glasses field soon, including phone makers such as Samsung (which had a conceptual video leaked recently) and PC makers like Lenovo (with its ThinkReality A3 due in 2021).
While it’s easy to get excited about the potential AR smart glasses use cases, it’s essential to keep in mind that not all of the associated issues have been solved. Most of the devices available today tend to have a short battery life, temperamental displays, and high price tags, making smart glasses impractical for many consumers. On top of that, ethical questions abound when considering that smart glasses can be used to record photos and videos without the consent or knowledge of those around you.
Despite these limitations, many predict that we’ll all be wearing smart glasses in the next few years, which is why now is the perfect time to familiarize yourself with all AR smart glasses use cases.