Smart specs have had a bad rap. Google Glass got off to a rocky start a couple of years ago. Early adopters were abused at supermarket checkout tills and other places where people objected to the idea of being filmed while about their daily business. The idea was quietly dropped — but only temporarily as far as Google is concerned. The lure of smart specs certainly won’t lie down and die. On the contrary, we’re just at the beginning of the adventure.
I can remember when users of brick-like cellphones were roundly abused and ridiculed, accused of being “yuppies” with more money than sense. Now smartphones are legion. While travelling on the Piccadilly Line earlier this week I counted nine out of ten passengers who were bent over their phone screens. It is no longer a joke, just a fact of daily life.
Without the camera, though, the concept of a head-up display for incoming information has certain attractions. Apparently even Apple is exploring the idea of creating a pair of smart glasses that can relay iPhone information — a sort of eye-mounted Apple Watch if you will. Stranger things have happened. One could be tempted by this, but recent developments are perhaps a little outré for bloggers of advancing years.
Snapchat, now rebranded as Snap Inc, is apparently selling its new “connected sunglasses” at peripatetic yellow “Snapbot” vending machines that are springing up around the USA. They are trackable like Pokemons using a phone app. When you’ve bagged a pair, mount them on your face, press a button and you can record “memories” of what you are up to.
Snap’s CEO, the appropriately named Evan Spiegel (he, presumably, of mirror, mirror on the wall fame) said: “I could see my own memory, through my own eyes — it was unbelievable”:
It’s one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it’s another thing to have an experience of the experience. It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again.
Quite. At least he is convinced. But am I ready for my connected sunglasses, or even the possibly more tasteful Apple specs? I fear I might look faintly ridiculous. An Apple Watch is one thing, a pair of upcoming Air Pods in my ears another; but I’ll need a lot of persuading to don the Snap specs. There’s no guarantee they will work with a Leica rangefinder, for starters.
But watch this face.