Are Augmented Reality Glasses Really Coming THIS YEAR?

This is just a rumor right now, and might not pan out, but if true this is a great example of how difficult it is to get out of the linear thinking trap. The smartphone has existed in some form since 2001 and didn’t get to the price and quality where it represented a worldwide market until 2007.

On this site we’ve spent a lot of time reading and projecting technology trends. We try to avoid tossing out ideas just because they seem radical. But I’m finding it hard to accept that the smartphone, which barely existed ten years ago and has driven growth in world computing for only 5 years, is about to be obsolete.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that Google really introduces useful Android-powered smartglasses this year, and they really cost $250-600. Chances are these represent the 2001 Palm OS version of what augmented reality glasses will really be capable of. But can we expect it to take even the 6 years it took smartphones for them to catch up? First, since this is running Android,┬áit’s not a new software stack, but instead a smaller hardware packaging. This makes it more like the shift from desktop to laptop computers; for the most part, the software is already there. Second, these shifts are trending shorter over time. It took nearly 4 decades to shift from mainframes to PCs, more than 2 decades to shift to laptops, and the mobile shift took 6 years. Perhaps we’ll see mature augmented reality glasses 3 years after introduction.

As hard as it is, I think we need to expect more changes like this, and we need to expect them to come even more rapidly. An 11-year window (let alone a 30-plus-year one) in which a particular type of computing product is the most advanced available may be something we never see again.

2 thoughts on “Are Augmented Reality Glasses Really Coming THIS YEAR?

  1. I think you’re making an assumption which may or may not be accurate when you say that smartglasses make smartphones obsolete, because it’s equally possible that smartglasses will supplement and extend rather than replace smartphones.

  2. Well, it’s unconfirmed so you’re right that this may or may not be true, but the google glasses in question are said to be independent, android-powered devices that replicate smartphone features. a HUD peripheral for android phones would not leave me as shocked, if that’s in fact what comes out. the assumption i’m making that users won’t want to carry two similar devices running the same OS and with more or less the same features but in different form factors is one i’ll stand by, for now. that’s not to say both won’t be sold alongside one another for some time, and that many people won’t still choose the phone, at least while the glasses look dorky. i personally would ditch my android smartphone in a second if its feature-set could be replicated in glasses.