Is Apple going to give the final push to smart glasses?

  • Apple Glass: When do they come out, price, features

    In early 2013, a handful of Americans could be seen around California with a new contraption that looked like a cross between plastic prescription glasses and the X-Men’s Cyclops wraparound visor. It was the prototype of a new Google gadget: Project Glass. Launched that same year, these $1,500 smart glasses consisted of a small screen mounted on a flexible frame that incorporated a camera, microphone and computer. Some visionaries predicted that these glasses would change the rules of the game. Others had their doubts. The detractors won. Banned everywhere from movie theaters to locker rooms, Google Glass became such a sham that even the parent company released its own parody video. The objections were obvious, though the main one was that they made you look ridiculous.

    However, the big tech companies are far from having abandoned this idea. Apple, Microsoft, Xiaomi and at least two dozen other companies are said to be developing glasses with some connectivity and artificial intelligence capabilities, with 2022 being cited as the year smart glasses will trend. The popularity of other smart devices is on the rise. Worldwide sales of virtual reality gadgets, including the Oculus Quest and PlayStation VR, totaled 6.1 million units in 2021.

    The Apple Watch, undervalued at its launch in 2015, now outsells the entire Swiss watch industry. Forecasts suggest that the wearable technology market will be worth 64 billion dollars in 2024. Not even Google has given up on Google Glass: a new version, Glass Enterprise Edition, is aimed at professionals in assembly plants, central electrical or hospitals. On the other hand, in the last decade we have become more comfortable ‘dressing up’ smart devices without looking stupid.

    Back in 2013, a critic of Google Glass suggested the answer was “to make them look like Ray-Bans.” In 2021, Facebook partnered with the sunglasses company to get it. The resulting product (Ray-Ban Stories) was almost indistinguishable from a pair of Wayfarer, but could take calls, take photos and record video. Facebook’s goal is undoubtedly its metaverse, or Meta, the “next evolution of social connection.”

    Separately, Lenovo has announced its ThinkReality A3 glasses, which connect to computers and Motorola devices. They allow the user to see several virtual screens at the same time, and interact with their co-workers. Smart glasses are also being tested for virtual shopping. Ikea has teamed up with Microsoft’s HoloLens so customers can plan a kitchen or redesign their living room without breaking out the tape measure. At a price of 3,849 euros a pair and weighing 556 grams, the HoloLens applications seem to be only commercial, for now. None of this sounds particularly appealing.

    If smart glasses are going to be the next big thing, there may only be one company that can pull it off: Apple. In December 2021, The Wall Street Journal said it expected the company’s first virtual reality headset to be announced in late 2022. Convincing people to wear a computer on their face is a big hurdle, but until recently Millions of people had given up wearing a smartwatch and used the phone to check the time. Currently, the market for virtual reality devices is still small. However, that of the glasses moves about 140,000 million dollars a year. And Apple has already set its sights on it…

    Why have all attempts so far failed?

    There are several explanations, starting with the target audience and the actual use of the product, its price and how exactly the first glasses came onto the market. It’s easy to explain. To begin with, there must be a clear connection between the user and the product via utility: the glasses must satisfy a user need. Second, if you want to become popular, the product must have a price that suits the user. Which does not mean that they will be cheap. That is why it makes sense that it is Apple that breaks the deck in this sector. On the one hand, it already has an ecosystem in which to integrate glasses, starting with a video game platform and continuing with all types of screens (mobile phones, tablets). On the other hand, Apple is going to make a product for Apple users, not for the general public that does not have other Apple products. It will follow the same strategy (this, of course, with the humerus finger raised in the air to see where the wind is blowing, because there is nothing official, as you can imagine) as with the Apple Watch: a product that will only work with products Manzana. And nothing happens.

    The last explanation for the failure so far of smart glasses for the general public has to do with patience: it makes no sense to be the first for the sake of being the first. Yes, it can make shareholders tick, but it is a short-term strategy. In the end, Google’s product hit the market without even being 70% done. They believed that it didn’t matter if the device didn’t work quite right. The developers launched to develop all kinds of applications on a bad product, but above all on a product that did not solve any problem or provide any ease to users: they only showed that the device could be used. Google, in the end, gave the launch category to a prototype. The device was not ready when it was released. In case you don’t remember, the glasses frequently heated up, turned off by themselves, the battery lasted an hour. Not even the UI, the very basics – tap, swipe, blink, head gestures, voice recognition after saying “Ok Glass” – worked properly. Apple is not going to make that mistake.

Is Apple going to give the final push to smart glasses?