Smartphones have become a primary computing platform, because they are increasingly capable and much more mobile than laptops. It appears that AR glasses will be the next computing device and it may find widespread acceptance in 2020’s. Major companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook are pursuing this idea. These wearables may be available in many models, including affordable and flagship ones. With AR glasses, users should be able to see anything in front of them. Overlays of digital information like messages, contact information and map directions will be easily visible. Users can enable microphones and cameras within the AR wearable to capture sounds, still images or videos easily. Major companies is investing a lot of fund and efforts to achieve this.
We have heard that Facebook is partnering with Luxottica the owner of Ray-Ban glasses. Oculus, a subsidiary of Facebook, is also focusing more VR, instead of AR. However, it will allow integration of AR and VR certain platforms. As an example, the Oculus Quest 2 is a VR wearable, but it could also deliver AR functionality with embedded cameras. Microsoft has been selling Hololens that includes Windows 10 functionality in the headset. However, it is still expensive and too bulky for most users. Google Glass already flopped in the market, but an updated model is still available for business uses. Apple has been showing a lot of interests in AR, but it still doesn’t confirm any eventual release of AR devices. The Information and Bloomberg have reported that Apple is developing a VR wearable, but with integrated AR.
Facebook’s new device could cost for about $3,000, with availability next year. This should be an opportunity for third party software developers to deliver high quality VR and AR content. Another important development is that many companies are seeking to spit computational process among different devices. As an example, Qualcomm is working to offload a portion of processing requirement to a smartphone, if it pairs with the AR or VR wearable. This requires special hardware modules with significant optimization for AR processing.
For future improvements, companies will need to enhance the technology further. There will be more focus on miniaturization. This will ensure smaller footprint of various components, like processor, microphones, cameras and sensors. It means, wearable will not only lighter and slimmer, but also more powerful. Because we will use AR wearables in daily lives, without being connected to the power outlet, it is important for these devices to have longer battery life. Proper miniaturization should also improve energy efficiency and heat emission. Without doubt, users won’t appreciate feeling prolonged or excessive warmth on the skin of their face, especially during summer or in places with hotter climate. Today, AR wearables usually have restricted field of view and for an ideal experience, it is important to be able to see more. The light source embedded with the AR wearable should be bright enough to improve visibility during the day. With mass production and more mature implementations, future AR wearables should be increasingly more affordable.