What it is: Vuzix is introducing smart glasses with augmented reality.
Many companies will try to release smart glasses following in the wake of Google Glass. The big problem all of them will face is that they solve no particular problem. Because they don’t solve a pressing problem, there won’t be a rush of customers clamoring to buy one.
Just look at the virtual reality (VR) craze that went nowhere, or the 3D TV fad before that. Technology that exists solely for its own sake will always be doomed to failure. Technology exists only to solve problems.
The Palm Pilot solved the problem of keeping track of details like contacts and notes, so it was far more convenient to use than lugging paper and pencil around.
The Palm Pilot morphed into a smartphone that offered the same features except with the added ability to make a phone call. The Palm Treo smartphone proved popular for a time, right up until Apple introduced the iPhone, which solved the problem of displaying a screen and controls by replacing both with a touch screen interface.
When you look at numerous companies introducing smart glasses, ask yourself what problem does it solve that can’t be solved by today’s technology? That silence you hear for an answer is what companies like Vuzix are failing to answer because they’re too busy rushing to develop new technology without once stopping to think what problem does it solve.
One common feature smart glasses keep trying to introduce is the ability to pair with a smartphone and receive notifications directly on the lenses. If you thought getting distracted by looking at your phone while driving could cause accidents, imagine driving while wearing smart glasses and getting email and message notifications directly on your lenses. Think that won’t cause more than one accident?
The huge problem smart glass makers are trying to solve is to morph a smartphone into smart glasses. That makes as much sense as morphing a smartphone into a wearable computer.
The Apple Watch isn’t succeeding because it mimics an iPhone on your wrist, but because it offers real-time health monitoring, which is clumsy to do with an iPhone.
Likewise, smart glasses won’t succeed because they duplicate the features of a smartphone but because they offer features that a smartphone does not offer. The real purpose of smart glasses is simply enhanced vision, replacing physical lenses with adjustable magnifying lenses through computational photography that’s already available in the iPhone camera. The only trick is getting the camera lenses small and light enough to fit within an ordinary eyeglass frame.
Vuzix’s smart glasses are simply a product in search of a solution, which means they’ll crash and go bankrupt shortly or give up their smart glasses altogether. When smart glasses offer something that today’s smartphones can’t offer, that’s when smart glasses will finally have arrived. Until then, we’ll have to wade through a parade of useless smart glasses pointlessly trying to mimic smartphones for no good reason at all.