What it is: Catcher Technology, a Taiwanese company that manufacturers metal casings for Apple products like iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, will make parts for an augmented reality product.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Catcher Technology has been hired to make augmented reality glasses for a major technology company that’s hinted could be Apple. Whether that’s true or not, what is true is that viewing augmented reality through an iPhone or iPad screen is less than ideal. The best solution would be to wear smart glasses.
Right now, today’s headsets like Microsoft’s HoloLens are bulky and look like a giant box strapped to your face. That makes headsets unlikely to be worn for extended periods of time, and certainly not in public. Smart glasses need to be no bulkier or heavier than traditional eyeglasses. Then they need to link with an iPhone that provides the processing power. The smart glasses essentially is nothing more than a screen.
Of course, before people will wear smart glasses, they’ll want to see compelling reasons to use augmented reality on a regular basis. Simply displaying street directions may be nice, but won’t be a compelling reason to use smart glasses all the time. Most people will initially want to wear smart glasses for specific uses and then take them off when they don’t need them any more. Eventually, smart glasses will need to become so important that people will want to wear them all the time.
Since dating apps are so popular on smartphones, a simple example of smart glasses would involve a dating app so you could scan a crowd and see exactly which people might be interested in meeting you (and avoid the ones who don’t want to meet you). That alone would make smart glasses extremely useful for single people looking to find dates.
Another use for smart glasses might be for police who can quickly scan an area and not only look for suspects and bystanders visually, but through their thermal heat signatures as well. This would give police enhanced visual capabilities so they could determine where a suspect might be hiding even if that suspect is physically hidden from view.
Smart glasses won’t become commonplace for the average person until they first get widely adopted in niche markets. Remember, PCs still aren’t used by many people despite decades of existence. Smartphones are steadily making their way to most people but not everyone has one. Smart glasses will get adopted by niche markets and then gradually expand to general use.
The ultimate key to acceptability for smart glasses will be a small size and low weight so they can be worn easily and comfortably in public. Today’s headsets fail in both criteria because nobody would want to wear a Microsoft HoloLens in public or carry one around them all day long just in case they need it later. Smart glasses need to be easy to put on and take off, and provide compelling uses for common people to own. Smart glasses will arrive eventually, but not for a few more years to come.