From a full spread in Vogue to red carpet appearances at Fashion Week, it’s clear that Google has been trying to push Google Glass as a trendy accessory.
However, in the near future, companies like Google may not have to try as hard to make their wearable displays fit in.
Soulaiman Itani, founder and CEO of Atheer Labs, told Business Insider that wearable computers as natural-looking as sunglasses are only about three or four years away.
Atheer Labs is currently developing its first wearable display that will be aimed toward enterprise and industrial users.
The company raised more than $US200,000 on Indiegogo earlier this year to fund the project, more than doubling its initial goal of $US100,000. Atheer’s first product was originally going to be aimed at consumers, but the company recently decided to switch gears.
From the front, these smart glasses will look like sunglasses, but the side components that sit near your ear would still be slightly thicker, Itani said. That’s because these glasses would still need to house their sensors and computing components in that area.
Besides Google Glass, which is fairly light and sleek but doesn’t look quite as normal as a pair of glasses, most wearable displays are rather bulky. Take a look at Epson’s Moverio BT-200s. Granted, they’re geared toward gaming and entertainment rather than everyday always-on use cases like Glass, but they still feel a bit heavy to wear for extended periods of time.
While their physical appearances could be one reason wearable displays haven’t caught on with consumers yet, Itani believes these devices will be much more useful once smart home devices become popular.
“Everything will be intelligent, [and] you’ll need a control,” Itani said. “People try to use their phones [today]. That’s not the right way.”
Itani notes to use your phone to control these devices, you need to take it out of your pocket, open the desired app, and perhaps point it at the device. Being able to control something like a smart door lock just by looking at it will give consumers a more compelling reason to buy a pair of smart glasses.
Whether its for controlling the devices in your home or monitoring your health, wearables in general will need to take the next step and proactively help you make decisions and complete tasks.
Simply regurgitating data, such as how many steps you’ve taken or showing notifications, isn’t enough, according to Sujata Neidig of Freescale Semiconductor, an enabling tech platform for the Wearables Reference Platform, who spoke at this year’s Wearable Tech Expo.
“Data needs to evolve,” she said. “Wearables need to react for you.”