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The Next Generation of Smart Glasses

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Earlier this year, Facebook Inc and EssilorLuxottica announced a multi-year collaboration to develop the next generation of smart glasses.

Mark Zuckerberg himself made the announcement at Facebook’s annual conference in the US. Utilising Facebook’s apps and technologies, Luxottica’s leadership and brands, and Essilor’s advanced lens technology, it could be the next step in helping people to stay better connected.

The first product is tipped to be branded by Ray-Ban and is set to launch in 2021. With that in mind, we take a look at what precisely smart glasses are and what it will take for them to be a success.

What are smart glasses?

Smart glasses are essentially the next step in bringing the wireless connectivity of our laptops and phones and integrating it into our frames and lenses. You might remember Google was one of the first to launch the concept with its Google Glass Explorer, as they began to build on the popularity of smartwatches and other wearable technology. This provided a useful model for future technology companies to continue building on.

As well as enhancing your vision as normal lenses do, smart glasses can also carry out a range of other functions to help you stay connected, such as playing music or taking photos.

Concept of smart glasses in a work environment

How do they work?

There are several components to consider in what makes glasses smart. The design of Google Glass helped many to understand how smartglasses work and what elements they consist of.

For example, a speaker for wireless audio can be integrated on to the end of the ear rest. In this method, audio is transferred to the ear via bone conduction, instead of air conduction. The central processing unit will most likely be situated on the glasses side of the other ear rest. 

Smart glasses may also include a microphone, perched under a hinge. Most smart glasses will pair the microphone with a micro speaker, enabling audio feedback and notifications as well as the likes of music and podcasts.

The way smart glasses are controlled is one of the most exciting aspects of this new wearable technology. Touching, tapping or swiping controls built into the frame of the lenses could become a reality, as well as speaking as we do to Siri or Alexa. It may even be possible to control your smart glasses with gesture recognition, either with head, eye or hand movements.

Key factors for the success of smart glasses

It’s essential to consider the possible challenges of smart glasses to make sure they are a success. One of the most critical factors is education; people must learn how to operate the glasses and how to get value from them. It’s equally as crucial for people to adapt and respond to how they work. The sudden influx of new tools and a new way of accessing wireless data can take some getting used to.

Vision awareness should remain at the forefront of the glasses design. Correcting vision is the primary function, and there should be a focus on vision health and keeping it in check. While the smart functions are undoubtedly impressive, they should not overshadow the importance of wearing the right lenses for your vision needs.

Lastly, smart glasses should remain as safe as possible for the wearer. In some instances, the functions and capabilities of smart glasses may be distracting. Still, so long as the wearer is educated and aware, there’s no reason smart glasses can’t be a safe and viable option for anyone who requires glasses. 

With so much exciting technology on the horizon, it’s going to be very interesting to see the future of smart glasses unfold before us. 

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