Why should augmented reality glasses make us look geeky?

Header image from michaeljswart.com

Ever since Geordi La Forge came on the Star Trek scene with his visor, people have been ready for futuristic “smart glasses.” Well, today we have them! At least, we have more attempts at making them. Some are nice, most are bulky, and none are fashionable.

From the geeky collection of available glasses, I wish we had regular, stylish glasses that also had some smarts to them. I don't always want to look like I have a computer strapped to my head.

I do want to have the same capabilities available to me that I would with a computer strapped to my head. I want relevant information, interactable elements, and options for me to take actions. But I want my Prada, Burberry, and Tom Ford too. Is that too much to ask?

Let’s take a look at the current market of geeky smart/ connected glasses.

These are from Epson Moverio: Large, heavy, and they require a sort of braille reader control thing plugged into the headset.

Here's Google Glass in its current incarnation, alongside an earlier prototype.

Here's the MS HoloLens and three nerds lost in space. Actually not very ugly at all, but those glasses will set off nerd alarms every time.

When we visited Microsoft and got to play with the HoloLens earlier this year, I found the headgear a little cumbersome and heavy, since it’s more of a wraparound visor/cap than glasses. But it does make a statement.

So, what are our options looking forward?

How about these Oakley AR Glasses! Just kidding. Those are just some horrible Oakley sunglasses and they do nothing. I don't endorse these for AR.

Back to some existing hardware: Last year, Google got a little more stylish and released this line with Diane Von Furstenburg that was a little nicer.

It's a step in the right direction, but why can’t anyone make a pair of AR glasses or smart glasses that look like real glasses? Take a look at these Tom Ford specs:

Maybe augmented reality glasses can’t look this beautiful, but they can get close! The glasses can be seen through transparent LCD displays, which Samsung has been making since 2010. It’s probably difficult getting all the components to run the screen to fit on glasses that won’t break your neck from being so heavy (I’m side-eyeing you, Epson).

The other important components, like sound, battery, and cameras, are all easily available and already in most AR glasses. The challenge now is figuring out how to miniaturize the camera, lens, and sensor array needed for AR to work. The HoloLens may be as compact as possible for right now.

Mens / Unisex

Womens / Cateye

I think my illustrations aren’t too difficult to produce. The camera and sensor array is similar to ones used on the front of smartphones, and those don’t take up much space. The display drivers in your phone also aren’t terribly large - the biggest part is the backlight illumination, and while I’m not sure how Samsung makes their clear LCD displays, I’m hoping the drivers aren’t so large.

I think the best way to interact with these type of glasses is by speaking to it, similar to how Google Glass has implemented “OK Google” actions. Your actions would be predefined: "OK Google, navigate to the Ace Hotel." To balance the weight and give the illusion of surround sound, I’d like to place the batteries and mini speakers on the legs of the frame so that they sit behind your ears, out of sight.

How about something like this, Google and Microsoft?