When Google Glass came out, it was a laughing stock, mostly because of its bulky, ugly appearance. Since it was such a failure, you would think that the future of smart glasses for consumers would be dead, but just the opposite is true.
Smart Glasses Never Died, They Just Changed
While smart glasses never made it in the consumer market, they are being tested and becoming well-accepted in other areas, such as the military and medical community. The technology is being studied and developed for use in fields as diverse as aerospace, logistics, and manufacturing as well as the the retail and restaurant sectors. Meanwhile, companies around the globe have been working on the major flaw that made them so unpalatable to the consumer market; their appearance.
It's All In the Curve
The one thing that made the original smart glasses so unappealing was their wide, flat lenses. The challenge was to make the technology work on a curved lens that could be fit into standard glasses frames. One of the many companies researching this problem, Carl Zeiss Smart Optics, has developed just such a lens. Their smart lens is built directly into the glasses lens, making it a strong possibility that it can one day be used with prescription lenses in regular eyeglass frames and sold as an option with your new eyeglasses.
How the Technology Works
Very simply put, in the original smart glass technology, the image is beamed through a specialized mirror onto a prism that reflects the screen image back toward the wearer's eye. The beam of light was sent from right to left, then reflected back before it was caught by the right eye. These new lenses beam the light from right to left inside a curved lens, then into a flat lens made of concentric circles called a fresnel lens, which sends it immediately into the eye. While the newer lenses do not have the same image quality as the original, they may be safer for extended use by preventing your right eye from having pain due to the bright light being shot into it.
The Research Continues
Many companies such as Sony and ADG are also working on their own versions of smart glasses. Although much of the work being done is for enterprise applications instead of the consumer market, you never know what they may stumble upon. As the technology advances and becomes more affordable, one day, your optometrist may automatically ask, "Would you like smart lenses with those frames?"
Technology is changing at a rapid pace, and the days when people wear computers on their bodies is already a reality. With so many companies working to make smart glasses a reality, it is only a matter of time before they hit the mainstream market. In the meantime, if you need a new pair of prescription lenses, it's best to see your trusted local ophthalmologist or optometrist (such as one from Sol Optix).