They're not going to happen.
Each new week brings with it an abundance of new gadgets -- whether devised by tech giants like Google and Samsung or pushed by hopeful entrepreneurs to Kickstarter, they run the gamut from useful to niche to tech that nobody really needs. This week we're looking at all the attempts at making the smartglass work -- even where Google has tried and failed.
Smartglasses image via Shutterstock
Google Glass may be dead, but Epson is still keeping the dream alive; its Moverio BT-300 smart glasses are the third and best iteration in a consistently evolving set of augmented-reality specs. The new glasses will be coming to Australia this year, and Epson thinks they'll be good for more than just hardcore business and medical fields: it's saying they'll be useful for drone pilots and photographers.
The new Moverio BT-300 is 20 per cent lighter than the last-generation BT-200, making it the lightest set of smart glasses on the market. That's important, too, because Epson is touting these as useful in everyday life, not necessarily just for the extremely limited fields that the previous model was used in -- mostly diagnostic imaging and other medical areas.
Walker Is Trying To Make Walking Entertaining
Walker was announced with the frankly baffling, vaguely Star Wars video that you can see to the right, seeming to be selling itself on the same "people need to stop looking down at their phones" concept that didn't work even for Google.
The Walker is, unsurprisingly, aimed at 'walkers', and its angle seems to be that it's helping walkers to enjoy the world. Its main drawcard is a pre-installed navigation and discovery app that is designed for walkers rather than drivers. Other features aren't quite as clear, though they say they are developing further applications like AR games, live video streaming and instant text translation.
Walker is in the last three days of its Kickstarter and still has around $US10,000 to raise -- though it has managed to raise almost $105,000 already. The Kickstarter is selling the Walker for $US499 ($652), and the post-Kickstarter price is set to be $US699 ($915). Who knows -- maybe it will manage to succeed where Google failed?
Google Glass has thus far been a flop for regular people doing normal things. But for more boring tasks enhancing productivity and increasing profit, there's still promise. A report from Electrek claims that Tesla is using the new Enterprise Edition headsets at its Fremont factory.
The report joins a few dots to conclude that Tesla is using Glass to help workers at its factory. The most persuasive is that APX Labs, a company that designs software for smart glasses, lists Tesla as one of its main customers. Add that to the image above -- previously posted on APX's website, clearly showing some kind of smart glasses being used in a Tesla factory -- and it's a reasonably convincing argument. From the photo, it looks like Glass is serving as a glorified hands-free inventory management system for workers on the shop floor.
The Smartest Glasses On Kickstarter Are Also The Most Low-Tech
Whether you're rooting for the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, one thing stays the same -- VR headsets are a huge pain to wear if you wear glasses. VR Lens Lab are looking to fix that, with a set of prescription lenses that fit perfectly inside your Vive or Oculus headset (though they don't seem to have an adaptor designed for the cheaper Playstation VR yet).
The solution is simple and effective -- they're essentially glasses that are specifically designed to fit within your headset. There's no word on the pricing for prescription lenses yet, as they're medical devices that require a prescription to buy and thus can't be sold over Kickstarter. Even with this limitation, the Kickstarter has already raised five times its original goal of €5000 just selling plano protective lenses and empty frames that will have to have lenses fitted later.
So do they work as well as promised? As with all Kickstarter products, that's the most important question. While we can't say anything for sure, it's a simple enough concept that executing it shouldn't be too difficult -- though we're keen to get our hands on a pair for review.
While there are no smartglasses in Chris's list of purchases, it's still a recommended read for anyone with an addiction to Kickstarted gadgets. The formula for inventing a new gadget used to be simple: have an idea, set up shop in your parents' garage, eat only ramen, and eventually create a multi-billion dollar company. Crowdfunding has changed all that. Promising ideas go from a web page to million-dollar production runs in no time. But is it really working?
Kickstarter is famous not just for its successes but also the number (and scale) of its failures. Whether it's a pocket-sized drone that crashed and burned, a playing card project that cut and run, or a laser razor that never existed in the first place, crowdfunding has a reputation for outrageous moonshots and outright fraud. But it's not a reputation that it necessarily deserves.