When Google backed away from Glass last year I was one of many welcoming the move. At the time I argued that my complaint with Glass wasn’t that it wasn’t an interesting technology initiative, rather its implications for privacy and the elitist way it was marketed pigeon holed the tech into a “Glasshole” place which did nobody any good.
This week Sony has announced the sale of the “developer” edition of its version of Glass…..imaginatively called EyeGlasses. It still has the privacy issue to get around (although the red light indicating camera activity helps address that) but it’s a step in the right direction. Aesthetically the Sony offering is a mess. The frames are ugly and tethered to a hockey puck sized control unit. That will be a big issue for consumers but not as important to industrial users who already often have to put up with clunky protective eye wear. That’s clearly where Sony is positioning this equipment. although the cute commercials feature end users it makes more sense in an industrial or medical context.
Perhaps more important is the price point. Sony has pitched it at $850 which puts in the the high end of the consumer space and quite affordable in an industrial context. It has some clever augmented reality features like directions and facial recognition so if you meet someone you know who is in your contacts (and you have a picture of them) it will let you have their name. This release is significant because it brings a major another player into the game and in the case of Sony a player in dire need of a big win. They are pitching it at practical use rather than tech snobbery and it’s another step towards the end game.
It’s clear, in my mind, that the big win will be believable augmented then virtual reality. This will be led by gamers and the adult content industry with industrial applications running third place. Sony is well entrenched in the gaming world and it’s likely that a subsequent version of this equipment will have integration with PS4. That would give gamers a heads up display fully integrated with their game experience. Sony is talking about eye movement control for things like scrolling and opening in future editions. If they make that part of their game system navigation we would have a serious contender. at this price point…or close to this could become a viable mass market game controller which happens to be useful for other applications if you can stand the embarrassment of being seen out in them.