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Can the New AR Glasses Escape the Terrible Fate of Google Glass?

Kelly Lee
Digital Content Specialist

Eight years in the past, Google launched a daring experiment: It wished hundreds of thousands of individuals to pay $1,500 to slide on a pair of augmented actuality (AR) eyeglasses. By way of a tiny display embedded in one of many lenses, “Google Glass” fed the wearer a continuing stream of information: texts, location updates (together with turn-by-turn instructions displayed on a map), and digital reminders. In concept, the machine was supposed to maneuver the world past smartphones to “wearables.”

Regardless of Google’s aggressive push, nonetheless, Google Glass failed. Many customers discovered the design unattractive. They have been already happy with their smartphones, and didn’t see the purpose of spending a not-insignificant sum on one more machine. Google’s advertising and marketing and gross sales equipment additionally did not successfully clarify the advantages of Google Glass.

Now the tech trade appears decided to present AR eyeglasses one other shot. Meta (previously Fb) is actually betting its existence on digital actuality (VR) and AR experiences; Microsoft is focusing on the enterprise with the HoloLens, an expensive AR headset; and Apple has been long-rumored to be laborious at work on AR eyeglasses which will pair not directly with the iPhone.

Even Google is reportedly hiring technologists for a brand new AR challenge, suggesting that the Google Glass debacle didn’t solely strip the corporate’s urge for food for the know-how. For this newest effort, Google desires technologists who’re expert within the Linux kernel and driver mannequin in addition to real-time working system (RTOS) growth. 

Will these new tasks succeed the place Google Glass failed? That is dependent upon a handful of things. For starters, good design is vital: No person desires to stroll round in public with an unpleasant little bit of {hardware} on their face. Happily, the tech corporations appear conscious of this drawback; for instance, Meta’s new “sensible” Ray-Bans trace at a future wherein AR glasses are good and smooth. Apple can also be no slouch within the “cool design” division. However {hardware} constraints (reminiscent of together with an onboard battery of adequate measurement for just a few hours’ use) might influence form-factors greater than any self-respecting designer would love, a minimum of for the primary few years.

However simply as necessary nearly as good design is the necessity for a large third-party ecosystem of cool AR apps that individuals really wish to use. One key cause why Google Glass failed is that, not like smartphones, there was no “should have” app that solely labored together with a set of AR glasses. Good apps remodel {hardware} from merely attention-grabbing to completely important.

Sadly, it’s additionally a little bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. Builders gained’t soar into the AR market till they know their efforts will probably be rewarded. In response to Emsi Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes hundreds of thousands of job postings from throughout the nation, solely 8,796 jobs needing AR expertise popped up over the previous yr (though it predicts that AR-related jobs will develop 64.4 p.c over the following two years). Firms reminiscent of Meta and Apple might want to persuade builders—a lot of builders—that constructing cool stuff for this market is value it.

As these corporations start to roll out AR eyeglasses over the following few years, pay shut consideration to the dimensions and viability of the developer ecosystem. That provides you with a good suggestion of whether or not the tech trade’s budding obsession with AR is warranted—in addition to whether or not you must commit your personal time and assets to constructing AR apps and companies.

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