In the last decade, the smartphone has become an everyday companion for excellence. The growth of computing power and storage, coupled with mostly reliable internet access, has allowed an app and services ecosystem to thrive with little competition.
But despite ongoing improvements, much of the recent innovations in the smartphone environment are more incremental than revolutionary. Does the smartphone have to give way to another universal companion in the near future?
Big hopes are already on wearables. But rather so far, smartwatches have prevailed as an extended arm to the smartphone. Switching to a tiny screen on your wrist is not an easy step, especially since there’s something to be desired in terms of usability.
Are Intel’s Vaunt Glasses the first step in the direction of the AR revolution?
Maybe the smartwatch isn’t the right device for your smartphone, but there are other technologies that are worth taking a closer look at. For example, recently there have been advances in immersive screen technology.
While both Google Glass and Snapchat’s Spectacles are more of a flop, Intel’s Vaunt now have smart glasses in their sight that could revolutionise the image of smart glasses.
One of the attributes that sets Vaunt apart from other smart eyewear is the fact that you can actually wear it (without being seen as a giant nerd from a mile away). So the most important attributes of the glasses are actually those that have been left out: There is no camera to scare people off, no buttons, no gesture area to swipe, no glowing LCD screen, no speaker, or microphone. Thus, the glasses actually look like normal glasses from the outside.
Instead, Intel’s Vaunt glasses transmit information directly to the wearer’s eye using a laser. What sounds a bit strange at first, but it is promised to be safe for use. The Verge has already tested the glasses and are excited about their possibilities.
Currently, however, the glasses, just like smartwatches, are only an extension of the smartphone. For example, directions or even incoming messages can be displayed. In the future, however, the glasses could also react contextually, for example, to display restaurant ratings, if one intentionally looks at a restaurant. Many more potential applications are not available yet from Intel out of the box.
Therefore, it’s going to be up to the app developers to find useful applications for the glasses. Intel plans to launch a developer program in 2018 to give developers the ability to create their own use cases.
Wearables + hearables = the dream team?
And although they do not have a microphone yet, Intel indicated that future models might have one to work with virtual assistants like Alexa. For example, Alexa could play recipes in front of your eyes while standing in the kitchen.
Obviously, there are a million different ways in which direction Intel could go with its smart glasses.
But is there actually the potential to replace the smartphone as a companion? Still, I’m a bit skeptical, since so far only Snap’s Spectacles and Google Glass can be used as a comparison, both of which have failed miserably. However, glasses themselves are more suited to more general use cases and scenarios, but also require a different way of use.
Perhaps Intel’s Vaunt will be one of those influential pioneers who will eventually pave the way for exactly this kind of product. But this’ll require a strong developer community.