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Wearable Tech And Augmented Reality

Technology you will wear.  Google’s glasses.  Apple’s iWatch.  And “augmented reality” on its way.

Google co-rounder Sergey Brin wears Google Glass glasses at an announcement for the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences at Genentech Hall on UCSF’s Mission Bay campus in San Francisco, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. (AP)

Google co-rounder Sergey Brin wears Google Glass glasses at an announcement for the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences at Genentech Hall on UCSF’s Mission Bay campus in San Francisco, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. (AP)

It’s the technology age.  We know it.  Big deal.  What’s new?  Well, what about digital technology you will wear?  On your face.  Around your eyes.  On your wrist.  All over.

Google’s coming out with its glasses – “Google Glass.”  Apple’s revving its “iWatch.”  Skiers are already getting text messages on their goggles.  Daters are getting a compatibility heads-up from a band on their arm.

Put it all together and we’re headed into what’s being called “augmented reality.”

This hour, On Point:  technology you will wear, and the coming “AR.”

-Tom Ashbrook


Omar Gallaga, technology culture writer for the Austin American-Statesman. (@omarg)

Amber Case, director of the Portland R&D Center for the tech firm Esri. (@caseorganic)

Ben Chigier, retired software engineer and entrepreneur. He and his daughter each own a pair of “augmented” ski goggles.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Telegraph “The details of the device are sketchy, but it is claimed its features could include a curved touchscreen made from a new type of flexible glass, an array of sensors to monitor exercise patterns and heart rate, ‘wave and pay’ function, access to maps, voice control and wireless integration with the iPhone. That could allow the wearer to take calls and read messages without having to delve into their pocket or bag, or mean the iphone would know when it was in its owner’s hand an unlock automatically.”

Forbes “Featherlight, Brin’s grey Glass, featured a metal wire supported by two nose pads that ran around his face just above the bridge of his nose. The device, which had two different sized arms, also sported a single rectangle of glass in front of the right eye. That piece of material provided a transparent screen by which the apparatus could project everything from messages to photos to maps for the user.”

The Atlantic “But when you really start to think about it, the dream of augmented reality recedes. Who is going to make all this geotagged content? And how are people going to use it? What genres and forms are going to be natural to read out there in the world rather than (as we imagine readers) curled up on the couch?”

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  • Kapil_Jain

    This had to happen. Thanks to Google, Now I am sure Augmented Reality will become very popular. And I would also like to thank AdStuck for introducing me to AR

  • Shag_Wevera

    Yet another way to become disconnected from the world around us.

  • JobExperience

    How does AR interface with gunism?
    How does AR interface with medications?
    How does AR mesh with operating heavy machinery?
    Or is it more like jewelry?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ted.itzov Ted Itzov

    I like desktop computers: You can boot ‘em up and use them for looking stuff up online, writing stuff and whatnot. You can shut them down so you can go about everyday life, interact with people around you, and carry on as a normal individual.

  • jefe68

    Great, one more distraction for drivers.

    • Gary Trees

      If they do it right, it should eliminate most of (if not all of) the distractions to which drivers are currently exposed.  Navigator, phone, radio control, etc. all augmented onto your car windshield and voice controled.  You should never have to look away from the windshield again. Now, if we could just get everone using autonomous cars instead…

      • jefe68

        The “if” is the big question.

        Even if it’s done right, I think it will still be a distraction.

      • PaulfromHydeParkMA

        That’s idiotic – it’s not the looking away that’s the problem – it’s having your brain divided into multiple sections by multiple stimuli – it’s just insane….this guy talking about finding restaurants at a damn ski resort! It’s absurdly ridiculous! Just do it the old-fashioned way. Look with your eyes, read with your brain, make mistakes and stop pretending that saving 9 seconds looking for that restaurant is worth worrying about. Just absurd!

        • Gary Trees

          You’re right.  I’m an idiot for thinking that having all of the information that you are going to be exposed to anyway in a vehicle delivered in a more steamlined method.

          Call the automotive engineers who have been designing your car console to do the exact same thing and let them know that you have figured out how to do their job.


          • PaulfromHydeParkMA

            Not sure I follow, Gary. I’m listening to some guy say that Google Glass is going to make it easier to find a restaurant at a ski resort. When did it become OK to check one’s brain at the door and not be responsible for doing one’s own thinking? Whatever you mean by “…all of the information…,” I’m guessing that it’s likely 95% of it that person does not need at that moment.

          • Gary Trees

            I think that you mistakenly replied to my comment when you meant to make a new post.  No prob, I was confused.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        2015 should be available on the caddy then you can text and drive all you want

  • J__o__h__n

    Yahoo is working on a version you can only wear at the office.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YMV2HJ2TBKMCN2QRAVI3I2OOGM Jim Jim

    As a cyclist its getting more and more dangerous to commute every day. Its not a joke. Pedestrians and cyclists really need protection from distracted drivers. Its getting dangerous just to be in a crosswalk now. 

    • PaulfromHydeParkMA

      So don’t commute on a bike in a dangerous city like Boston…cyclists have not shown they deserve to be on the road by virtue of their following rules, being considerate, having a clue that they are putting lives other than their own at risk. Without knowing your practices, I can say cyclists absolutely DISAPPEAR in blind spots…it’s fact, not fiction and, at the risk of sounding insensitive to the environment, there are just some places (many in fact) where bicycles simply do not belong.

      • JBK007

        And Boston drivers do deserve to be on the roads?!?

        • PaulfromHydeParkMA

          More than cyclists who are just as dangerous, but more prone to injury when they get hit by a 3,000 lb. unified piece of metal. Someone was killed outside WBUR a few months ago because he didn’t respect a truck (!!!) turning left off Comm. Ave. It’s ridiculous. We can’t stop being human by virtue of technology…can’t and shouldn’t be done.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/YMV2HJ2TBKMCN2QRAVI3I2OOGM Jim Jim

        I don’t commute in Boston. It still doesn’t make it ok for people to drive in an unsafe or dangerous way.
        I’m saying this as a pedestrian as well. People need to put the phone down and drive safely.

        • PaulfromHydeParkMA

          My apologies….local myopia listening to a national show. Happy riding.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      plus the idiots on bikes who will have these glasses on and make it even more dangerous to drive

  • Scott B

    There’s a great piece on this in last month’s Esquire magazine. 

    To me it’s:” Welcome to life in the fishbowl.  ”  Hate it.

  • Gary Trees

    Design engineer here. 

    We are starting to use augmented reality in a design capacity. There is a specific design platform that I use that has recently added an AR feature to it’s portable iPad app (I’m sure this available through other markets/platforms as well). While I think that it is a very unique and interesting feature; damned if I know any good design application for it. 

    We have this wonderful and “cool” tool, but no good idea of it’s function. :S

  • J__o__h__n
  • ToyYoda

    what’s after augmented reality?  I propose Replacement Reality.  Put on the goggles and your car looks like a Ferrari, your wife becomes a supermodel, your messy home looks like an art studio, your office cube is right on the beach.

    The idea is to replace your visual reality with something more pleasant, as long as it’s consistent with the rest of your senses.  :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      i am sure a lot of dingy basements will look fantastic. i was trying to figure out how this could be used for porn (which has driven all advancements in media technology thus far) I think i need to go patent an “x-ray specs” app right now

  • StilllHere

    If smartphones are emasculating, those glasses have loser written all over them. 

    • Fredlinskip

      “Democrats are violent, racist psychopaths and I don’t see how anyone could conclude anything else.  Democrats rhetoric of hate and violence is crushing the good that struggles to lift our society.” 
      -STILL HERE, 2/26

      • jefe68

        He’s such a gent.

  • Gary Trees

    People fear change but embrace innovation.  How people take this will largely be a factor of how AR is framed as an asset.  Sadly, whenever something like this is introduced to society at large the luddites come out of the woodwork and many of those who previously would not have classified themselves as such, join the cult of anti-tech.

  • hellokitty0580

    I think this is horrible. Its bad enough that we’re addicted to our phones and our emails and our apps. I already hate the idea of being connected all the time, but I can’t STAND the idea of technology actually attached to me. Okay fine, so we’re able to create all this new technology. But just because we’re able to create it does it mean we HAVE TO use it? What’s happening to real personal, organic life?

  • PaulfromHydeParkMA

    Hi Tom,

    This is totally ridiculous…we’re going to have people walking into trees, fountains, traffic, etc. Just because they CAN do it, doesn’t mean they SHOULD do it. It’s invasive, annoying, impersonal and just plain stupid. Give it a rest, techies! Thanks.

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    One step closer to being a Cyborg!

  • J__o__h__n

    Will we be able to watch people eating their lunches from their POV live on Facebook?

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Entire LIVES recorded? Great.

    The Truman Show? No thanks.

  • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

    I would like to try for them picking okra, it is difficult to see, but has a big bloom, with augmented reality I could see the bloom from three days before when looking at the plant today. More pipe dream than realistic.

  • ianway

    Nothing but the newest gimmick.  “Augumented reality” indeed, in the sense that our mindless consumption has literally superseded our ability to see the world as it exists.   We’re diddling while Rome burns.

  • ronzo99

    Think about Google’s purpose in life: to make money by delivering advertising to you. At least with my desktop, I can install software that BLOCKS Google ads — but if Google owns the OS in these glasses, that won’t be possible. You’ve heard of commercial TV, this will be commercials all the time, everywhere!

    • Gary Trees

      That was Google’s profit plan at it’s inception, but is hardly how they make money now.  I have an android phone and I never recieve advertising on that. Has Google simply missed the opportunity to advertise to me on my smartphone?

    • DeJay79

       you can always pay money to block ads I am sure someone will right the software to over ride google ads

  • http://www.facebook.com/dreamingmatthew Matthew Stephenson

    This looks like it could reproduce the experience in video games. I would love to have  icons showing the distance to my destination and arrows floating in front of me.

  • RolloMartins

    So with the US internet infrastructure so slow and inadequate, how would all this digital info get anywhere????

  • MordecaiCarroll

    Who in their right mind would want to record every moment in their life?  And equally importantly, who would want to hang out with someone who is recording every moment of their life? 

    • DeJay79

       but on the other hand how many times have you said “God I wish I was recording this.”

      I know it happens atleast once a week for me.

      Like that one time I was on a golf course and dropped a 20 ft. putt never again will I be able to do that but to watch it happen once more would be sweet.

      • JBK007

        Perhaps, but my guess is that if you were recording the putt it would have effected your concentration and you probably would have missed.  Be thankful you made the putt and have the memories in your mind to enjoy, and the stories to share with your buddies who were there to witness it!

        • DeJay79

           funny story about that, it was only one other friend and he was heading back to the cart to get another… so he missed it :(

  • MordecaiCarroll

    In the future, we’ll all be Kardashians.

    And with respect to implanted technology, no thank you!  Way too many downsides, way too many potential abuses for my taste.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      we’ll need bigger seats

  • Human898

    We seem to be forever dissatisfied with the here and now and forever seeking the “next” thing to do or oddly some sort of preference to communicate, not with the people in our presence, but with those somewhere else.   I have a smart phone that has GPS and can do all the things any glasses can do, but I prefer to leave that to something separate and enjoy skiing solely and look at a map of the ski area, take pictures, film something communicate with someone else at a different time. Is ADHD a natural brain abnormality or something we have created? We’re so fractured now, when and how do we find the time for contemplation, more importantly, introspection? When do we actually look at the world around us and see not just how the actions of others affect us, but how our actions affect others?

  • JBK007

    This and related “smart” technology will undoubtedly contribute to the meteoric rise of ADHD in America’s population, as we’ll find nobody can concentrate more than 2 seconds on any given issue…..

  • Michiganjf

    I don’t know…

       The technology is pretty cool, but evolutionary psychology is teaching us that we are partly creatures of instinct… instinctual habit and thought patterns having been ingrained in our very being, in ways which we are only beginning to recognize.

      This level of technology is pulling us ever farther from a kind of natural interaction with others and our environment… an interaction which fits naturally with instinctual needs, and yes, habit.

     Maybe it doesn’t matter, and we’re really that adaptable… maybe we really aren’t as adaptable as we want to believe, and this level of technology will create psychological issues or distress which we simply cannot yet foresee.

    I guess we’ll find out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      there are already some studies showing social media causing anxiety

  • Call_Me_Missouri

    I agree with the caller who is worried about people becoming disconnected from the real world…  sort of…

    My bigger concern I have is that these devices constrain your world to that which is curated on the internet which though voluminous  is not all inclusive.  You see what Google wants you to see.  You see what Facebook wants you to see.  You see what Twitter wants you to see.  That’s a very small subset of the world and the human experience.

    I think parents and people around the world have a growing awareness of the distraction and disconnection caused by the use of these devices and the disciplined ones of us will separate ourselves from technology from time to time in order to expose ourselves to the world.  I see this becoming a trend with Technology Sabbaths becoming increasingly more common place.

    But still people only see what big corporations want you to see through these devices which is the more concerning issue for me.

  • AC

    adapt or perish!!
    i love it!
    though i can see this will be the end of tour guides. & probably insurance fraud…..but make for a better witness….

  • Call_Me_Missouri

    Glasses that record video are actually common already.  There is a device that looks like a bluetooth headset that records video and streams the video through your Android phone already.

    And though I wouldn’t record all of my life, recording what I see on my daily commute through the city every day would be a HOOT!  There are so many oddities in a big city and it would be fun to curate a collection of these oddities.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1424976479 Allen Horner

    Do you know what a pair of regular glasses and sunglasses cost.  Now you can add $1800 to the normal bill (x2 if you get Google Sunglasses)? Get outa town!

  • Caleb Clark

    Just as smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, there will be no way to “opt out” of this new technology. Those who resisted the wave of the internet now find themselves helpless in a world of online job applications, tax filing, etc. We must move with these rapidly evolving technologies or risk irrelevance.

    • MordecaiCarroll

      That is what the producers of these products would have us all believe.  And the fact is, if enough of us adopt the technology,  a person who resists it may be at a disadvantage because a workplace may demand that you have familiarity with something like Google Glass

      That said, the thing I feel like people fail to remember is that these products are made by companies interested in making a profit.  So of course they’re going to try to convince us all that we absolutely “must” have this new technology.  And of course, they’re going to try to convince people that anyone who doesn’t own their product will be woefully out of step with the world.  That’s how they generate sales and increase their profit margin.

      Some of it is just good old-fashioned hype.  Buy our product because it makes you look cool/sexy/successful/with it, etc.

    • Human898

      If you live long enough, you notice all the things you bought into, used three times then put down, never to use again because they were not necessary to function in life.    You also notice all the other people that mention doing the same thing.

      One also has to wonder if people still follow a dual path so they can survive in the world if all their “smart” technology ends up lost or broken and there are no buttons and apps to depend on in a situation that requires they depend on the knowledge inside their brain, rather than what they can access through a device.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      i tried a smartphone for 2 weeks then spent a bunch of money to reactavate my old “dumb” phone. i havent regretted my decision.

  • Dave Nocella

    Does anyone remember the dreaded Borg on Star Trek. “Resistance is futile” We;ll be wired to the hive!

  • burroak

    I value technology and all its creative wonders and tools, equipment, and gadgets; but, what is the impact with this on our social landscape. The statistics are mounting regarding the dangers of texting while driving.
    Although these technologies could find their niche, embracing augmented cafes, robotic restaurants and cyborg gyms might take some adjustment.
    Human interaction, beit the family dinner table,  corner cafe, or city sidewalk has undergone a disruptive transformation with the current technological tide.  How, and what will be the social impact(s) of this new wave?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    If they can get it to progress beyond a neat toy, people don’t use this technology or can’t use it effectively will be competing against people who do.

    And while part of that will be based on aptitude and ability, a lot of it will be being economically able to use these techologies. And the technology gap will grow wider.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    1984 is interesting concept – will the glasses ever start looking back at us?

    Of course, with everyone else’s glasses looking at you, it won’t really matter.

  • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar


    Brains of rats connected allowing them to share information via internetRats thousands of miles apart collaborate on simple tasks via the internet using ‘brain-to-brain interfaces’

    • DeJay79

       WHAT!! gross

      • Chris Kirtley

        OK – switch to rabbits… how do you feel now?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1338902873 Holly Marple

    Here are some Goggle sites about Marlee Matlin’s App for I-Pad for the woman who called in about her Autistic child and anyone who is looking for non-verbal communication aids https://www.google.com/search?q=marlee+matlin+app&rlz=1C1SKPL_enUS445US499&aq=2&oq=Marlee_Matlin+app&aqs=chrome.3.57j0l3.15315&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

  • Human898

    I agree there are useful and good applications, but we haven’t caught up with all the social problems we have encountered as a result of some technology.  As mentioned, all technology is not just a “to benefit the earth” sort of thing, but in many ways, a means for some to cash in, if their gamble works.   The question is, have we already reached gadgetry overload in some instances and as with all things, has some of the “jump on it” lustre fallen away.    When do people begin to realize they are living more in a distant cyber world available through technology than the world they are physically set in?   Will people ever reject trying to be something they are not or wondering if the person they are with is more genuine than an illusion of altered parts and states of consciousness?   I don’t know.   Will the negatives eventually catch up with us and kick us somehow or will we eventually mature and not be so enamoured with gimmickery and gadgetry that is sold as a benefit to humanity, but proves to be yet another redundant toy that is more entertaining than truly useful.   This is not to say that somewhere in the morass there are practical and oft used features to much of the technology out there, even for all the added bells and whistles that most don’t ever use.  

    Even now, how many people are more disappointed by what comes out in an upgrade than what was in the version that was “upgraded”?

    We and Google will find out I suppose.  “Hit” or “miss”.

  • Stella3B

    I dropped my daughter off at dance class yesterday and thought it would be nice to spend the time chatting with the other moms.  Of those mothers there, two were texting and the third was playing on an iPad with her toddler while the infant sat in her seat being ignored.  Do I want more technology?  No, just a little face to face conversation once in a while.  

  • Johnajax

    I listened to the guests and Tom and have this to add: Google is not the only one doing this. They are racing against apple to get there first. Also, in terms of Augmented Reality, it is not a new thing to fear–it has been proliferating outside the United States for several years and offers great opportunities. It has started being done here in the US mostly by those in the education, art and architectural fields. I work in the field and have been reading about the glasses for a few months and what no one ever writes about is the public safety and legislative impact. If we all think texting while driving and being on a bluetooth headset are dangerous–try “Surfing the web with your eyeballs while driving.” The glasses project images in the corner, but it essentially is what the user is watching. The invention is good. But I foresee major legislation debates and new laws, policies that will need to take place. That’s why any investor should first place their money on the smartphone wristwatches. People will gravitate to those easily. It is the midway step before going to eyewear–which has many potential consequences and pre-thought needed for our current laws and adaptations before any state will be letting people wear google or apple glasses while driving, etc. And what some of you already said is also true: the glasses will let you record video without anyone knowing it. We have current laws about that, but this will create additional conversations and rewrites and debates, which is natural. Especially in regard to federal medical privacy laws and videotaping within a medical institution where one is a patient, doctor, nurse, secretary, family member or custodial engineer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Heywood-Yabuzzoff/100001972322603 Heywood Yabuzzoff

    A prediction : from the moment Google glass ships hackers will be hard at work to enable always-on recording. Once that’s done, we will have the ability to record and analyze every waking moment of our life. And many will find this sort of obsessive private review of every little interaction irresistibly addictive.

    • http://twitter.com/omarg Omar L. Gallaga

      Here’s an interesting TED video I was partly referencing — for researchers it will certainly be irresistible.  This one was able to track the formation of his son’s first word and record his first steps: http://www.ted.com/talks/deb_roy_the_birth_of_a_word.html It’s remarkable and, I think, inevitable. See the Russian dash-cam craze as another example of always-recording technology. http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/02/russian-dash-cams/

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      who will like it more the government or the marketers or the insurance companies?

  • oddjob1947

    [from upi.com....]

    Johns Hopkins gynecologist hid camera in pen to film patients

    Johns Hopkins has released new details about
    how gynecologist spied on his patients, taking video and pictures of
    them during exams….etc…

    Such pens have been widely available for some time,dittoly similarly fitted watches.  ‘primitive’ by standards of this discussion, however…



  • ing3z

    Interesting.  I hear very little discussion of the power equations.

    First person questions first.  Are these tools for personal empowerment?  Yes, of course, personal apps are the hook.  Are they also tools for group empowerment — to help us do things productively together? Yes, although I don’t think we’ve done enough of that yet.  I very much liked the stories about the ski goggles.

    In the second person.  Does the Glass wearer gain power over you?  If they can record your activity more easily, maybe.

    Third person.  Who gets access to the data stream, and for what in exchange?  What does Google or Apple gain?  What information do they have access to, from your wearing their device all day?  What do they pay you for that information, and what is the trade?  I don’t think we have any good ways to discuss or negotiate these things clearly yet, despite the explosion of warehousing and analytics that are driving the “big data” wave nowadays.  It worries me very very much.

  • http://twitter.com/jiao_tu Winston

    This topic brings excitement and hope to those of us, in my opinion, who have enjoyed such features in various science fiction media (Accel World, Sword Art Online, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, The Avengers). Many of these leaps in technology which I had given up on ever seeing with the climate for innovation and change being shunned in this age.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    i wish more people would pay attention to actual reality. already people wander around staring at phones or talking to an earpiece like zombies. actual reality is awesome and its in high definition

  • Chris Kirtley

    I was listening to the show on my MP3 sunglasses here in Australia. I’ve been using them for 5 years – cost $12.

  • http://twitter.com/comogard Ori Inbar

    For those interested to get a first hand at Wearables and augmented reality technology, there will be a major event with a hundred vendors on display at Augmented World Expo in California in June. See more at: http://augmentedworldexpo.com/

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