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Google Glass, Apple Watch— Where Is This Going?

May 21, 2015

© 2015 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved
President, Ministry Business Services, Inc.
Reprinted from Christian Computing Magazine

In 2011 we learned Google was developing something akin to glasses that had a head-up display. Called Google Glass, it captivated the imagination of many! This year Apple released the Apple Watch, and the techie community’s attention has again been captivated! What do these technologies accomplish for us? And where does it appear to be going?

Google Glass
The first prototype weighed about eight pounds! But within two years Google had versions that were light and easy to wear. Glass was controlled by a combination of vocal commands and touching a touchpad built into the temple (the side over-the-ear piece). Information being made available that easily was amazing! Functional applications developed quickly for medicine and other fields. But in early 2015, Google announced that it would stop producing Glass.

The Glass program is not closed, however! Google Nest’s CEO, Tony Fadell (a key figure of the team that invented the iPod, iPhone, and iPad), has been given responsibility for Glass and said this month that research and development on is continuing to move forward. He said there won’t be a ‘public beta’ like the Glass Explorer program; that Google won’t release the next version until it’s perfect.

What does that mean? We don’t know, of course, but keeping an eye on Google’s patents may help. For instance, some of their recent patents show a device that tracks eye movements. Interesting….

Apple Watch
Many of my friends have ordered this device and can’t wait for theirs to ship! I went with one to their Apple Store appointment to check out the options, and almost got caught up in how cool it was! But then I remembered that I haven’t worn a watch for decades, and I really don’t want to begin wearing one now. That helped me look at the device a little more objectively.

The Watch is heavily dependent on having an iPhone close by. It has to be within thirty feet of the iPhone because without it about all it can do is health monitoring, Apple Pay, and tell time. So it is probably best seen as an iPhone accessory, and its battery life is less than a day.

Where is All This Going?
In 2009 we were introduced to a wearable “gestural” interface named SixthSense. The idea  was that we could have a convergence of our real world with our digital world. It was fascinating to see a wearable combination of technology (camera, projector, and smartphone) that could see our physical world, interpret it, and project helpful information in real time.

The goal of this tool was to seamlessly merge our real world with our digital world. Here’s a link to an awesome Ted Talk if you have a few minutes to check it out; just click here.

Nick Predicts
Okay, I’m going to put on my Nick Predicts hat. These are my best guesses based on what I see developing in technology. And they just might be accurate!

I think we’re going to see a convergence of technologies that will deliver the ultimate wearable technology solution, eliminating the need to sit in front of a computer or tablet.

  • In 2006, University of Arizona scientists developed eyeglass lenses that can adaptively change their focusing power. The lenses allow their optical prescription to be programmed, rather than cut or ground into the lens. The lenses focus electroactively. Keep in mind that was nearly ten years ago; about two years before the first iPhone was released.
  • In 2002, Brown University lab monkeys were moving mouse cursors by playing ‘mental pinball’. Referred to as an experiment with brain-machine interfaces, this technology demonstrated the ability to read brain waves and tell computers to do things. That was more than thirteen years ago.
  • In the early 1990s, Steve Hewitt, CCMag Editor in Chief, said he thought we would soon be able to power electrical devices by pulling electricity out of the radio waves in our atmosphere. Admittedly, I scoffed. But he was following the thinking of some pretty smart guys, like Nikola Tesla. And now there are technologies being developed that do exactly that! Some are already available in the marketplace!
  • We already saw that Google is continuing to develop Glass, and that some of it’s recent patents are showing devices that track eye movement.

So, here’s my prediction. I believe within a decade we’ll have the ability to wear glasses whose prescription changes based on the need of our eyes and where they are focusing. Those glasses will extend their battery charges by pulling electricity from the radio waves in our atmosphere, and will themselves be computers we can control with our thoughts; picked up by the temples (the side over-the-ear piece), that can project head-up display images.

Okay, there! I said it! And if I’m right, it’ll be very cool!

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