Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Google Glass Competitors Beginning to Emerge - Will It Matter?
When Google first announced their plans for a wearable computer headset a number of years ago, the world's techno-geeks went berserk over the thought of being able to wear their computers on their faces. Nevertheless, reality came shining through when Google's prototype hit the streets in 2012. It turns out that Google Glass is not all some expected it to be. So why are we seeing a number of competitors starting to emerge?
According to ZDNet's Charlie Osborne, competition for head-mounted displays (does such competition really exist?) is all about fashion rather than technology. Osborne cites US-based tech manufacturer Laforge, and its Icis headset, as an example. Apparently, the only bad thing Google Glass has going for it is the fact that it looks like a tech gadget rather than a pair of fashionable eyeglasses.
Laforge hopes to compete directly with Google by providing a head-mounted display that no one will ever know is capable of taking your picture or recording video. As far as unsuspecting bystanders are concerned, you are just wearing fashionable eyewear. So what if the frames are little bulky? That might just be the latest thing out of Hollywood.
All kidding aside, Laforge is very serious about putting out a headset that will compete directly with Google Glass. So much so that they have begun an $80,000 fund-raising campaign via Indiegogo – to date, they have raised about 10% of their goal.
Another big difference with the Icis product is that it puts the display directly in the line of sight. Users will be looking through what appear to be a standard pair of eyeglasses, but with a computer display overlay that does not result in the unnatural eye movement that would give away what you're wearing. Laforge believes that this is the perfect way to create a headset display that’s incredibly discreet.
What has not changed is the fact that head-mounted displays still come with plenty of security concerns. It is not that consumers are worried about someone at the next table accessing IT services or e-mail during dinner; they are worried about becoming the subject of someone's next reality exhibition on social media. They are worried about unauthorised photography and videography in places where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists. In simple terms, people are afraid that head-mounted displays would allow them to be spied on at will.
When you consider what the US National Security Agency has done, it is a reasonable concern. There is no way to know if the person on the other side of the head-mounted display is doing something he or she's not supposed to do.
Google Glass and any future competing products sound like a great idea in concept, but this kind of technologically advanced networking might not be so grand in reality. Many of us seriously question whether products like this will have any commercial viability at any point in the near future. Some believe they will – others, not so much. We suppose that only time will tell…