Would Apple iGlass Be Better Than Google Glass?

Apple has just been awarded a new patent that may become the wearable version of the iPad one day: eyeglasses that would display apps, video, images and overlay information on the world around you in real time -- something like Schwarzenegger's vision in The Terminator.

Or, you know, it could be just as silly as Google's Project Glass, only prettier.

Like Google's thingamajig, Apple's eyeglasses would in theory project all this information directly into the user's eyes using LCD projectors.

But unlike Sergey Brin's pet project, Apple's iGlass would not have the projector in front of your eyes. The projectors would be located on the side of the eyeglasses, looking into the glass, not the user's eyes.

Apple's patent describes a method in which the image travels through a special glass to land directly into the user's pupils. This, in theory, will provide the illusion of total immersion.

Also unlike Google's Project Glass, the theoretical iGlass would use two heads-up displays, not just one. Apple's patent says the dual projectors would provide that total immersive experience, which would also avoid motion-sickness because it would use stereoscopic projection.

The patent claims this method will also enable the specs to greatly fill the user's field of view and increase the quality of the image.

But as cool as this may sound, a product like this would suffer from the same problem as Project Glass: it will require users to change their habits and wear something on their heads. People will really need to get an actual benefit out of them beyond the novelty of taking photos and video, or just seeing Yelp ratings on top of restaurants and shops.

The fact is that we don't need to see Yelp ratings at all times, or take photos and video at all times, or see the world through a computer. That's why we have smartphones that can be easily used and put away.

The case of the Bluetooth ear-pieces

But what would it take for consumers to adopt this technology? Let's look at a gadget that promised to change the way we communicate: the Bluetooth earpiece. At one point, these were as futuristic as these glasses, albeit simpler. Many people thought they were going to be the gadget that everyone would want, the way we would all communicate in the future. After all, they provided a very convenient way to talk without using your hands. That's quite a good reason to adopt a technology.

But even while the advantages of hands-free phone operation still seem substantial for consumers, they weren't broadly successful. You can see people using them, but they are a minority. Most people just use their mobile phones, which is the true game-changer that had widespread adoption.

Most people feel weird talking with those earpieces. Most people think they will look like jerks using them. The same could be said about Siri, which is one reason you don't see people using Siri in public places.

I think these glasses will categorically suffer the same fate as those niche technologies, unless there's something about them that make them a must-have product.

But maybe Apple's method can at least make these useless face-invaders look better. Perhaps people will feel less like idiots wearing glasses without weird attachments that make you look like a character from the original Star Trek series. I'm convinced that unless they made them truly indistinguishable from regular glasses people will not buy them. And even then, they will be limited because people who don't wear glasses may not want to wear them just to have an iLife HUD.

For now, however, Apple just has a patent. At least Google has some hardware, even if it's just beta-quality, ultra-expensive, and only does a tiny fraction of all the magical things the company initially told us it would do. [USPTO via TNW via Redmond Pie]



    As good as the image up the top is, pretty sure the idea is for the person wearing the glasses to see details of the map and not being a walking screen for others to look at. The image needs to be flipped.

      Never worked in marketing or pr have you nathan

        Perhaps trolling?

          Call him what you want but the dude's right

            Actually I'm pretty sure TheJoker was having a stab at Marketing or PR people, not at Nathan.

              Seriously, everyone, just take a chill pill and get over yourselves!

      I think the image is correct ... if we consider that these glasses can provide answers/info to the person looking at the wearer of the iGlasses. And. why not!! The glasses can be 2x more useful in some cases by serving at least 2 people!

    I find the whole conept of "HUD glasses" that are visually indistinguishable from fashion accessories to be somewhat silly.

    Here's a DIY experiment for you.

    Pick up a sheet of paper, one that has printed text on it. Hold it in front of your eyes at the same distance you would expect the lenses of your glasses to be at.

    ...Can you read it?

    My guess is, probably not. Either that, or your eyes are genetically superior to those of the majority of the human race, because the eye - like any other optical lens - is not able to focus on something so close.

    For the sake of expedience, I used my drivers' license for this. Drawing it slowly away from my eyes, and focusing on one point, I found I was able to resolve things sharply no closer than (about) 10 centimetres., using the ol' thumb-and-index finger method to draw it out.

    10 Centimetres, or about 4 inches for those using the Imperial scale.

    So, who in blazes wants to wear glasses on their head that sit four inches from their face? I'm not sure even Prada could find a way to make this fashion statement taseful. I'm not entirely sure the marketers who saw Iron Man, Appleseed, Ghost in the Shell and Terminator realised that "rule of cool" was taking precedence over reality.

      Not necessarily. Car HUDs create an image on the windscreen with a focal distance beyond the front of the car to avoid the very problem you describe and to also reduce the risk of being distracted when refocussing on either the display or the road. So any glasses would probably have to do the same. This would also solve the issue for far sighted (or older) users who cant focus close in anyway.

        unless your driving style is by putting your face REALLY close the the windscreen...i dont see your point valid

        to make something even readable very near to your eyes, it would have to be adjusted in size as well
        which is a moot point since the text would be so small that you have trouble identifying the letters

        ...And are you viewing that HUD from a distance at which you could press your face against it? It doesn't matter how you project the light - it depends on how you are viewing it.

        The US Air Force has been playing around with helmet HUDs for its fighter pilots for over a decade now - and there is a reason the helmet worn by F35 pilots looks like the head of an insect - there needs to be separation between the eyes of the pilot, and the HUD they are looking at.

        Check it out;

        Notice how the HUD component of his helmet is sitting several inches from his eyes? That's because if it was any closer, it would be impossible for the eye to resolve with any clarity.

        This subject is really no different from photography. If you shove your camera up really close to the subject - it will be blurry. Stand back and zoom in, and you'll get much better results.

        Car HUDs work because the soure of the image is actually further away that the surface of the glass. As the image is being transmitted from the dash, the focus distance is the sum of the distance from the source to the point of replection + the distance from the point of reflection to the eye. So by that logic the image will need to be transmitted to the lens of the glasses from a source far enough away from the glasses to create a comfortable distance.

        Not calling it impossible because it clearly isn't, but there would have to be some serious engineering going on (lots of mirrors and refocussing lenses perhaps?).

      You can refocus light to appear further away, for example, VR headsets do this.

        That still doesn't solve the problem of focal distance. Lenses can correct poor vision, but good vision cannot be corrected by poor lenses. Try wearing prescription lenses that aren't made for you, and tell me it doesn't hurt.

        VR headsets also address the problem in much the same manner I described - the projected image is still some distance from your eyes, hence why they sit so proud of your face.

      We solved the problem that you are talking about long ago. Walk into your nearest Sony store and try one of these... http://www.sony.com.au/microsite/hmd/index.html.

    Apple at it again, taking ideas from someone else - improving them - marketing them as their own, then take anyone else that makes a similar product to court and claim that they stole their idea

      You might want to check the file date before you make a claim like that - 2006. Just a little before Google announced their glasses.

      Glad I'm not the only one who notices this trend.

        Pitty Lumus vision http://www.lumusvision.com/ have been doing it (side projection through special glass using internal refraction) for 10 years and have an actual product not just run around shouting "we could do this if we tried, so give me a patent stopping any one else trying". I'm honestly disgusted with apple, it' companies like them that is what's wrong with this world.

      exactly, and if you can pull it off you have one of the best business models the world has ever seen

      agreed except for the "improving them" bit, usually they don't even bother to improve on the design they just wrap it in pretty plastic and metal and in some cases cut the features right back (only to introduce them in later models). And lets not forget the crippling software!

        Angry nerds at it again

          The longer you let apple get away with this crap, the longer you will have to wait for less, worse tech innovation. It won't make sense for people to spend huge amounts of money on R&D making these things possible ( http://www.lumusvision.com/) just so apple can have another monopoly.

    I certainly like the idea of a 'HUD Computer' you're not necessarily wearing all the time better than something that's seemingly designed to be worn 100% of the time. That concept image is totally boss.

    Look, whether these things are gimmicks or not, one thing is for sure, Apple's version will be sleeker simply because they do better in design. I hate macs but they do look nice. So when it comes to wearable technology, I would prefer the one that looks cooler

    surely these devices all fall under prior art

      I think they do yeah. There have been many cases in literature and movies where this type of tech is in use.

      I think (hope) that the patents created are ones that have to do with how the technology is developed and in use.

      Like a paperclip. You can't patent something that look and functions exactly like a paperclip. But if it still holds paper together, but uses a different method or tech to do so, then you can go ahead.

      (I hope that's not a bad example)

      The technology which makes these things possible, using the method described, is not something that we have ever seen.

    So in future, not only will be not able to heard the oncoming bus that's about to run you over because of your loud ipod music, but you also won't be able to see it either?

      Unless the HUD has motion sensor software that turns red with a big pointed arrow saying, careful of the massive projectile heading for your current path travelling a 80kms\h.

      Plus phone calls interrupt the iPod sound now, I'm sure in the future the above mentioned emergency would too.

      lol or something...

    Apple just made the patent, there's no guarantee they'll make this, they're just forcing google not to be able to push their glasses further.

    I dont think these glasses tech will catch on too much.

    1. a fair portion of the market already wears glasses so they will be temporarily out until they figure something out with perscriptions.
    2. No one wants to wear glasses. If you dont have to you dont wear them as they are a pain in the bumb. heck most people dont like putting them on for a 3d movie and people thing these glasses are going to take over.

    The only thing I can see these being good at is maybe a virtual reality or point of view movies (assuming that the projector in them is actually any good at first)

    Far too early be saying apples glasses tech is better than googles. We dont really know anything about it at all.

    This whole glasses thing reminds me of Denno Coil.

      Good show that, it was very interesting!

    Oh just hurry up, damn it.

    I don't really care for these glasses concepts, but I somehow doubt that Apple would have pre-emptively filed this patent if Google hadn't already expressed interest in making them.

    seeing as crApple don't have the search stuff that google has it's a moot point.. iEye. or EyeTime are even better (wanky) names for it .

    the Google Glass concept is good. but dorky as a real life thing I think.

    For those of us who already wear glasses I would happily upgrade to a pair of Google or Apple (ok well maybe not Apple but that's a different story :P) glasses if they did the same job as my current prescription glasses and also had cool digital integration as well.

    Stop focusing on all the people who don't currently wear glasses and why they would wear this and focus instead on all the people who DO currently wear glasses (there are a LOT of us after all!!) and how amazing this tech could be for all of us!

    You know they will slap it on some celebs and thats it's, the lines will be outside the apple shops again, no matter how they look :) People will buy these and Googles, I don't think i will, only cause i want to disconnect more than be always on.

    Well, I personally don't want to be immersed in anything that is being projected from eyeglasses while I'm walking or driving or working. So I see this sort of thing haviong a natural home in one of my preferred leisure activities: video games. When I'm situated on my couch playing a game THAT is when I want to be immersed in projected image as if I'm in the world of the game.

    If Apple start doing this, you'll need iTunes to make it work.

Join the discussion!