It wasn't that long ago when a doctor's prescription and one's physical limitations were the only uses for eyewear. But now, eyeglasses have gone high-tech with smart glasses: eyeglasses with a mini computer inside that displays information right on the lens(es).
Eyeglass usefulness began with the need to simply read things more easily. It eventually extended to shield the eyes from the sun and, even more recently, as a simple fashion statement. But the 21st century has other plans for the wearable accessory — and they're the most innovative yet.
Looking Closer at Smart Glasses
Smart glasses are like the current generation of smartwatches and wearable fitness devices. While they both track data — including information on the user's health, navigational directions and even incoming text messages or phone calls — smartglasses broadcast this information directly on the lens for maximum convenience.
Smart glasses are worn on the face like traditional eyeglasses but are packed with technology to display information that's literally within eyeshot. It might sound uncomfortable or hard-to-read at first, but the text gets scaled up or down so your eye can easily read it, and optimized resolution helps account for distance.
Smart Glasses in the Real World
The best-known consumer version of smart glasses has been a product called Google Glass. While not a commercial hit, it was a good first attempt at how devices like this might work. Snapchat has also released a second version of its Spectacles product and Amazon introduced its own version called Echo Frames in late 2019.The 9 Best Smart Glasses of 2021
How Augmented Reality Works With These Glasses
Some developers are exploring alternate uses for the augmented reality technology seen in smart glasses. Similar to virtual reality, which is popular in video gaming, AR combines reality and next-generation graphics to provide the user with an experience that is supplementary to real life.M Bowles / Contributor / Getty Images
Apple offers the ARKit development platform to support development for consumer-oriented products. While it's in a state of constant evolution and development itself, ARKit supports the creation of persistent AR worlds, shared AR experiences and much more.
While there is significant potential for AR in the consumer space, experts are also eyeing the technology for its ability to transform enterprise and business management. AR isn't all about fun and games; there are some serious and highly impactful uses to consider, too.
Future Uses of Smart Glasses
Using AR in the enterprise sector is an entirely different story than using it around the home. Although most people immediately think of consumer products when they consider the technology at work, it might be even more useful when applied to modern business.
AR technology and traditional smart glasses have viable uses in nearly every work environment and industry imaginable. Instead of racing to silence smartphones during the next board meeting, users will see the incoming call and ignore it. Rather than referring to a pad of handwritten notes during a presentation, wearers will see the words appear on the lens of their glasses.Brooks Kraft / Getty Images
The potential uses don't stop there. Turn-by-turn instructions are quickly downloadable and updated on-the-fly to account for detours, traffic congestion or extreme weather. Entire warehouses are easily broken down and rearranged — without ever touching the physical inventory.
Statistics are readily accessible and available on-the-fly for use in meetings and reports. It's all possible thanks to the technologies of traditional smart glasses and AR-enhanced eyewear.