The realm of early sci-fi might not be too far away – albeit without the flying cars. Smart eyewear is in the works, folks. It’s in the labs and heading down the pipeline, and while early public products like the Google Glass are certainly fun, we’re left with a particularly pressing question: just when exactly will this stuff become mainstream and accessible?
Right now, VR is all about gaming. It’s about entertainment, novelty and occasionally education, but the day when it becomes a part of regular, even professional life, could arrive even sooner than you think.
Smart Eyewear Today
The Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, Playstation VR; the vast majority of current smart eyewear products around today all have one thing in common. They’re bulky, and they have to be to function. Much like early computers with their humped ends and pixel graphics, VR in all its forms is currently impractical. It’s not quite polished and not quite streamlined, and it certainly needs more testing. A sizeable chunk of current users struggle with vertigo or nausea for example, and battery life and portability could certainly see improvements.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. If we move away from the entertainment side of things where size is necessary for complete immersion, we find that researchers elsewhere are looking into more practical applications of smart eye tech, using the best contact lenses around. Forget watching TV upside down in bed, forget slashing and dashing ninjas via motion detection. How about discs which can read your blood sugar levels and transmit them at will to a PC? Much cooler. And thank goodness, they already exist. Currently in trials, these subtle and silent eye readers could one day provide invaluable information to diabetics all around the world. And who’s to say we can’t take that tech further?
Popular contact lenses already used today that mould to eyes mean heavier tech can be integrated without a risk of irritation on a nanoscale. Dailies available online conveniently might be for more than just vision. Soon enough, we could be transmitting hormone levels too, watching for early indicators of certain prolific diseases and compiling personal data on a daily, smart basis – we could even be monitoring eye health itself! The possibilities are practically endless.
Unfortunately, the possibilities are also expensive. There’s no doubt that public interest in smart eyewear, be it medical, fun or otherwise certainly exists. What it really comes down to however is cost – the Google Glass is yet to take off because it’s out of budgeting reach for most working folks, and not majorly useful just yet. The blood sugar reader is yet to take off because the bureaucratic process of trials and testing is a costly one, and the eventual product a certain luxury item for now. We’re close without a doubt – close to projections on the world around us, to data and video streaming without a screen, to conference calls via prescription glasses and cheap contact lenses. But we’re not quite across the finish line. There’s lots to think about and lots to plan for – who’s to say someone couldn’t hack your blood sugar readings, for example? Who’s to say VR isn’t dangerous (when driving, when cycling, when doing anything at all)?.
Our best guess might put products like those above at least five or more years away. In time, they’ll get smaller. In time they’ll get better, and sooner or later we’ll all be able to enjoy the end result.