This week we had a brief chat with Will Powell, a developer responsible for some rather fantastic advances in the world of what Google has suddenly made a very visible category of devices: wearable technology. With Google's Project Glass nearer and nearer reality with each passing day, we asked Powell how his own projects were making advances at the same time, and how he saw advances in mobile gadgets as moving forward - and possibly away from smartphones and tablets entirely.
Those of you unfamiliar with Powell's work, you can hit up the following three links and see the videos of the projects he's done throughout this post. Some of the products Powell uses are the Vuzix STAR 1200 AR glasses, Raspberry Pi - the fabulous miniature computer, and of course, a good ol' fashioned ASUS Eee Pad Transformer.
SlashGear: Where you working with wearable technology before Google's Project
Glass was revealed to the world?
Powell: Yes at Keytree we were working with wearable technology before the unveiling of project glass. I was working on CEO Vision a glasses based augmented reality that you could reach out and touch objects to interact or add interactive objects on top of an iPad. I have also had lots of personal projects.
SG: What is your ultimate goal in creating this set of projects with
Raspberry Pi, Vuzix 1200 Star, etc?
P: I would say that the ultimate goal is really to show what is possible. With CEO Vision at Keytree we showed that you could use a sheet of paper to interact with sales figures and masses of data using the SAP Hana database technology. Then creating my own version of project glass and now extending those ideas to cover translations as well, was just to show what is possible using off-the-shelf technology. The translation idea was to take down barriers between people.
SG: Do you believe wearable technology will replace our most common mobile tech - smartphones, laptops - in the near future?
P: Yes I do, but with an horizon of a couple of years. I think that with the desire for more content and easier simpler devices, using what we are looking at and hearing to tell our digital devices what we want to find and share is the way forward. Even now we have to get a tablet, phone or laptop out to look something up. Glasses would completely change this because they are potentially always on and are now adding full time to at least one of our fundamental senses. Also many of us already wear glasses, according to Vision Council of America, approximately 75% of U.S. adults use some sort of vision correction. About 64% of them wear eyeglasses so people are already wearing something that could be made smart. That is a huge number of potential adopters for mobile personal information delivery.
I think we still have a way to go with working out how everything will fit together and how exactly we would interact with glasses based technology. With the transition from a computer to tablets and smartphones we opened up gestured with glasses we have the potential to have body language and real life actions as interaction mechanisms. And it would be the first time that there is no keyboard. There is also the potential for specifically targeted ads that could end up with us having some parodies come true. However, I do think we will have an app store for a glasses based device in the next few years.
SG: What projects do you have coming up next?
P: I have many more ideas about what glasses based applications can be used for and am building some of them. I am creating another video around translation to show the multi lingual nature of the concept. Further to that, we are looking at what areas of everyday life could be helped with glasses based tech and the collaboration between glasses users. The translation application highlighted that glasses are even better with wide adoption because Elizabeth could not see the subtitles of what I was saying without using the TV or tablet.
Stick around as Powell's mind continues to expand on the possibilities in augmented reality, wearable technology, and more!