Image: Hugh Threlfall
April 06 2013
I remain sceptical about wearable technology – aka “the contextual future”, aka “augmented reality” – even though the media (moi apart) keeps hyping it to the point at which people might actually start to believe that they want their bodies connected to the internet.
I implore any of you who seriously think that in a couple of years you will be donning Google glasses to overlay helpful information onto everything you see to take a look at Aurasma, the ambitious but staggeringly useless augmented-reality software I reviewed for Technopolis TV a year ago. Same with internet wristwatches. The I’m Watch, the entertaining but manifestly doomed Italian creation on which I did a video last year, has now been overshadowed by the American Pebble, which may, in turn, be overshadowed by a rumoured Apple watch, which could finally make wearable tech cool – although I doubt it. There just isn’t an appetite for us to become cyborgs. The reason why the hand-held smartphone has been such a success is because it allows us to remain human.
I’m not averse to contextual technology per se. Hearing aids fall into this category – and they work. And as someone who is terrible with faces, I’d love something embedded in my (non-Google) spectacles to remind me who I’m talking to at social events. But I don’t think such a thing will ever come in a reliable form.
However, these Airwave ski goggles from Oakley are a rare example of wearable technology that makes sense. At the bottom right-hand corner as you look through there’s what appears to be a 14-inch screen at a distance of 5ft, telling you all sorts of stuff from your speed to where your friends are on the mountain and how many vertical feet you’ve skied – as well as showing you any texts, emails and phone calls your iPhone or Android has received. And if you don’t mind missing the sound of an approaching avalanche, you can also listen to music via a wireless control pad on your wrist. A decent idea, sleekly executed.