Indeed, we are all feeling that «woha» and that «hiho», expecting them like fanboys in an Apple Store. I know, it is too soon to talk about a refined version of the Meta glasses, but my fantasies about a user/society/economy-friendly augmented reality device urged me to write some stuff down! Once released —if hopefully released— these glasses will set a new field of action in our everyday life; however, technology development requires something else than mere technical functions. This is how I would make Meta more… human.
They are not called «Glassholes» just because, there is no ban list just because. When developing products, we tend to focus on features and profitability rather than asking for the long term impact. Carrying a camera is a feature many devices share today; getting annoyed by the ubiquitous presence of recording features belongs to the long term impact. It is pretty uncomfortable to face a person whose enhanced video memory may compromise your future choices, like a gun pointing straight into your human integrity.
Indeed, some may argue cameras are here to stay, and that the very long term impact lies on the idea that we will get used to be recorded without question. I completely disagree, as we need intimacy and feel of control more than cameras and uncomfortable friendships.
Instead Meta facing a «No Meta glasses allowed in this establishment», I prefer a «Wearable recording devices must be tapped». The first sentence is a totalitarian statement, the second a civilian approach. Same as putting some duck tape in that built-in webcam of your laptop, we can place some sort of thin, slide, opaque label that discretely comes in front of the camera lens of Meta glasses with the sole presence of a mobile control in the frame. This piece could even have some other color, so where the camera was placed our partners could now see a yellow spot that gently says «it is not my time to annoy you».
There is an awkward relation in between visual and audio devices. The more we strive for immersion, the less we care about the odds of immersion. Home cinema systems, for example, give as much quality as space issues. On the other hand, head gadgets make glasses use headphones, which shapes and uncanny triangle among the glasses’ sidepiece, the speaker and the ear; sometimes wires plays an even worse role by contributing to sudden pulls.
Meta should go for an uncomplicated way of facing immersion. If no present technology gives you the change of having headphones and AR/VR glasses in the same pack, Meta has a great chance here to prove why it is worth to be attempted or why nobody is attempting it. Regardless of their —unproven— safety, solutions such as the trans-skull headsets look like a more decent depiction of the future than the never-ending role of headphone cable in our day-life complications.
Polarizing particles on glass is nothing new; LCDs have been here for long. What I wonder is if a second layer over the Meta glasses translucent surface could offer any improvement regarding usability.
First, an LCD layer would allow the glasses to become more like sun glasses. So, in presence of too much light or if the user does not require to care about reality, the glasses would dim into a comfortable darker scenario. This way, the real background would stay as a complement to what it is being shown, in order to prompt situation-and-collision feedback. These screens could even be used to selectively darken content.
Second, an LCD-like layer that could become opaque to the sight would transform the augmented-reality glasses into virtual-reality ones. Imagine for a while that there is a sort of material that makes the Meta glasses look like two tiny cinema screens, bright white on the inside. This technology would —and hopefully will— blurry the line among enhancing what it is already there and recreating new worlds. Yet to this point I am going too much into science fiction, we must bet this kind of witchcraft will end up mixing our visions with computer representations seamlessly. Give it five or ten more years.
360° XML API
Meta needs an «app of apps». As home computers moved back to the server-based software model, augmented reality glasses will be using websites/servers as utilities in the same way. The idea of downloading an app may conflict with the idea of just asking for its information from a cloud server. An app for all apps should be a standardized input/output system based on web technologies. Users should be able to recall RSS feeds or vehicle data without specific software for it.
I would expect a native way of pointing and retrieving data into the screen, in the same way Windows implemented the Start menu or Apple did so with Spotlight. The average user should be able to point something —a car, a computer— and get a list of all the public data that can be retrieved from it. This would be a general interface that anything, device or software, could implement. If the enhanced element is identified by Meta and it works under the common interface I am describing, the user should feel like harvesting cyphers without a glint of coding.
This idea minimizes the impact of GPS/tracking techniques, and puts the emphasis on an ecosystems of devices sharing position and credentials ad hoc, probably trough low energy wireless transmissions that would escalate into network traffic if you are moving to far from the authorized object. Just imagine how this would match data-visualization apps, without depending on how much reinforce concrete lies above your head, disregarding the quality of the .
This is not any rocket science. As technology gets popular, we need popular ways to protect it. From the Kengsington Security Slot to the rubber cases for smartphones, this is an ubiquitous issue.
Meta glasses should provide or create —or create a sub-market regarding— hardware security. The first idea is to place a neck band so glasses can be operated without being afraid they will fall and break. But there are other things to care about: what will protect the glasses from scratching? how will we ensure the sidepieces will not break? will there be any way of finding the glasses if you lose them? I am a glass user and I know all this issues will eventually arise.
The greatest thing Meta can do, at least for the beginning, is to provide a trustworthy, hurricane-proof case. Users will be so enthusiastic about the glasses as worried about breaking their new toy. My further step would be to ensure the glass has some kind of removable yet translucent protection, because sometimes glasses lie on their lenses even if you were not planning so. And, of course, I dream with a way I can hold them to my face so I can jump from a plane and record it as I get my altitude, atmospheric pressure and landing point.