With the recent announcement that Google will indeed be releasing HUD glasses equipped with augmented reality functions by the end of the year, the question we must now ask ourselves is whether or not anyone will want to wear these things. It’s hard to predict, as augmented reality itself has proven to be a mysterious and unpredictable force on the market, with some industries, like sports entertainment, marketing, and amusement parks, quicker to adopt than others. Google is saying the glasses will essentially fulfill the same function as the smartphone, providing Internet connectivity, GPS navigation, transparent AMOLED display and a wide array of real-time applications that could turn a downtown intersection into a circus of digital overlays and advertisements.
Yet, at the same time Google—perhaps anticipating the debate over the glasses’ stylistic presence and usefulness—is cautioning that they’re not intending the glasses to be warn at all times. For reasons of comfort, network restrictions, battery life, and data storage, the glasses may not immediately lend themselves to highly integrated networks like an atca platform or VoiP services. Therefore, you probably won’t be finding too many people who live every waking moment attached to their Google glasses.
So if they’re not to be worn all the time, but they’re to act as stand-ins for our smartphones, when exactly will we be using the Google glasses? At stoplights? During a glaring sunset? Walking down a crowded boulevard? Are they intended to appeal to some weird fashion niche, boastful technophiles, lazy app users or a combination of the three?
With revenue from AR industry likely to reach $350 million by 2014, it’s important to contextualize the release of these glasses within the world of Web 3.0, in which the Internet is increasingly being embedded in everyday objects and streamlined for integration with every and all platform. Contact lenses too may soon be supplied with Internet-ready interfaces. Would invisible contact lenses be an easier sell to tech-friendly consumers? Or is there something about the garish boldness of wearing AR glasses that makes Google’s release a bellwether test of the integration of high-end technology into our daily run-of-the-mill actions. If indeed we are on the precipice of a full societal embrace of augmented reality and ubiquitous mobile Internet use, Google’s HUD glasses may find a convenient home among tech-hungry consumers. Or we may just find that augmented reality is annoying when it gets in the way of regular reality.
Guest Post by Samantha Peters, who frequently blogs at The Tech Update and enjoys writing about innovative new gadgets like the Google Augmented Reality Glasses.