Augmented reality is an advanced technology only avid Sci-Fi movie fans are likely to be aware of up until now, although Google’s announcement earlier this month of plans to introduce such technology to the public via high-tech eyeglasses could soon make the idea a marketable reality.
AR is a computer based technology not to be confused with virtual reality, as AR eyeglasses would look to enhance or modify a real world view rather than replace it entirely with a simulated perception as in a VR scenario, combining a sophisticated arrangement of computerised sensory inputs such as sound, video, and graphics to enable object recognition for heightened user interaction with their immediate environment.
Google’s AR Specs
Google’s AR specs would aim to provide an all encompassing HUD display, in theory not obscuring your view of the ‘real’ world, but only alerting the user when necessary to helpful pointers such as adverse weather conditions or a subway closure for example, impressively re-routing to an intended destination in real-time.
Current smartphone apps such as map features used when we are lost are often not as entirely user friendly as they seem, often requiring looking away from what we are doing in a particular moment, roaming around in our bags or pockets for a handheld device, and then looking down for an extended period of time, moving back and forth from our real world environment to the display when gauging a sense of direction.
Imagine viewing a surrounding location simultaneously with real time on-screen feeds mimicking those found on existing smartphones, intuitively responding to visual cues for display through enhanced lenses as minute as any conventional eyewear, directly in front of your eyes, and you get something close to the vision that Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are looking to introduce in the near future.
The Google+ feed dedicated to news on the ‘Google goggles’ showcases a visually impressive promotional video, alongside a post outlining details of prototypes of the device already showing a built-in photo taking capability already in development, highlighting the fact that this may no longer be some tech enthusiasts pipe dream.
Early signs suggest that any potential AR glasses would provide flexibility for people utilising existing prescription glasses, seeing the device attached to pre-existing frames, unlocking the combined essence of a tablet, smartphone and music player, transforming seemingly ordinary looking everyday eyewear glasses into a multimedia technological marvel.
There are certainly some pitfalls to navigate before the potential product sees the light of day commercially, with the most glaring obstacle being whether such high powered technology can fit into such small casing usually seen in standard eyewear, without spiralling retail costs for consumers or compromising on the discreet visual appearance conventional eyeglasses wearers’ currently desire.
It is also likely that talking to your AR glasses through the required voice prompts and bumping into passersby while you are distracted by incoming messages will not endear the idea to busy commuters seeking practicality, but the mere thought that such technology is imminently possible, potentially altering traditional habits of how we interact with the world around us forever, is undoubtedly fascinating.