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The Race to Augmented Reality Glasses

Let’s start out by ignoring how stupid augmented reality glasses look. No amount of fitting them on attractive male and female models can do anything but make them look like rejects from a cyberpunk movie from the mid 90’s that plays at 3 AM on the SyFy channel.

What’s at stake with augmented reality glasses? Besides the title of Best Dressed Early Adopter Dork?google-glasses

Everyone wants to steal a jump on Apple and kick off a product line before Apple plants its flag. Google, which has played catch up with Android, wants to be there first with Google Glass. Olympus, which knows actual lenses, is jumping into the game too.

Now there are reports that Apple may be working on augmented reality glasses. Or it may just be filing patents. Steve Jobs would never have approved of augmented reality glasses and even without him, Apple needs to make them look cool. But that may not be doable.

What’s the problem?

Let’s start with the experience. The glasses Olympus is showing off allow 2 hours of continuous display. Google Glass probably won’t do much better. So don’t expect to go bouncing your hipster goggles around while listening to music all day, stalking friends and playing the ukelele for your girlfriend with camera vision. You won’t be doing it for long.

Battery power will get better, but limited display and power means that the cooler overlay possibilities that make augmented reality interesting aren’t going to be here yet. And is it really worth wearing Cyberpunk D4000xz glasses just to be able to see your email and Facebook updates without having to flip out your mobile device?

Forget the iPod. It’s likely that the augmented reality glasses that will first show up will be more like the Newton, interesting in concept, rich with possibilities, but not ready for prime time.

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