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Smart goggles offer a “pre-vision” of the future

Tuesday, 20 May 2008 — by

Our lives are filled with an immeasurable number of real and virtual objects of all kinds. Remembering everything we do is one thing, but everything we see? That depends on how you look at things…

As our lives become more crowded with yet more stuff we feel compelled to commit to memory, the pressure to remember these things is immense.

There’s a definite need here, but other than making endless lists of things and the people we encounter, we have no sensible way of keeping track of such things. Until now, that is:

“The University of Tokyo have created an intelligent pair of goggles to help with the video and tagging of your daily activities. Using an increased image recognition software, these goggles can automatically tag the different products you have looked at during the time worn.”

Quite apart from the complexities of the computer technologies involved, the ability to tag almost anything we encounter presents us with possibilities hitherto unthought of.

Passive technology

Truly useful technology is often passive, working away tirelessly, doing whatever is required to be done, to be invoked at a time of our choosing.

An example of persistently good passive technology — both from a solutions and an ergonomic point of view — would be a pair of spectacles. These things have been around for centuries and their design has varied little, the same being true of our facial physiology, to which spectacles are specifically designed for.

Our view of the world is always a sensorial affair, but our world is predominantly defined by our view of things, in a very literal sense, which makes these remarkable gadget glasses so appropriate.

While still in the very early stages of development, there are so many applications for such a device that it’s difficult to know where to start, but start I will…

Forget me not — an aid to Alzheimer’s

As the population of the world grows older, the onset of Alzheimer’s arrives with all the inevitability of an unloved season of the year — the autumn of our years, becoming blighted for some by a progressive and debilitating brain disease.

However, if such a pair of smart specs were to come to fruition, they could well prove to be the saviour of a great many people in the advancing stages of Alzheimer’s, allowing them to enjoy an acceptable quality of life, one thankfully free of the fall-out of forgetful moments.

Such assisted recollection through pre-vision would compensate for the sufferers condition, proving useful for a great range of things; anything from remembering that they’d left a cooking pan to boil, up to recalling the name of the young boy who delivers the local newspaper on a Friday afternoon.

A face in a crowd, eyes on the ground

Our world has changed, and not entirely for the better. Security is now almost a tangible commodity, one we offset certain of our freedoms against increasing the strength of our personal security.

Places of public recreation, of mass transportation and of education, entertainment and legislation are now subject to a newer, closer scrutiny. And such places are now the domain of tall, tall shafts of steel, atop which cameras sprout, like flowering fruit, their heads droop and peer down, staring with unblinking eyes into the business of all as we pass by below.

In a not-to-distant future, not only could our gestures be the subject of security scares, but our faces may well be the focus of bespectacled men & women walking amongst us.

As these casual-looking security staff gaze at their surroundings, what they see is instantly scanned and analyzed. Specifically, these people will be interested in the faces of those people passing through the checkpoints, turnstiles and gateways at anything from a sporting event to a bus station.

Anyone whose face matches that of a known suspect could be identified in an instant, preventing them from progressing any further. However, it is these liberties of ours that are eroded as our privacy is diminished in ever smaller yet measurably faster means.

Window shopping

Giving a whole new definition to WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), the shopping experience of the future could be totally different. As you walk around your favourite department and electrical retail store, all you need to do is look. But do you buy? You’re just not sure.

But once home, you could review those items you saw that you weren’t so sure of, pull up some reviews of Amazon and decide whether to buy them or not in the comfort of your own home.

Seeing the future

Never again forgetting where we placed something, or forgetting a face is a big, big thing. Right now, the technology is relatively crude, but if someone can find a suitable application, merging the technology with more regular prescription spectacles, the possibilities are sky high.

So raise your glasses to a better looking future…

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Comment and be known

David Bradley → Tuesday, 20 May 2008 @ 14:48 BDT

The nostalgic equivalent are, of course, rose-tinted retrospectacles…

Andy DeSoto → Wednesday, 21 May 2008 @ 4:27 BDT

“But once home, you could review those items you saw that you weren’t so sure of, pull up some reviews of Amazon and decide whether to buy them or not in the comfort of your own home.”

I don’t know, part of me thinks that the first step will be content-sensitive stores that already know exactly what they carry. That way, the burden is on the store to have an accessible digital representation of their stock, not on the consumer!

But boy, these glasses sure would be helpful learning names! If technology got SUPER advanced, I’d teach the goggles my friends, go to as many sports games as possible, and see if they could pick them up in a crowd of 50,000!

Wayne Smallman → Wednesday, 21 May 2008 @ 8:18 BDT

As I said, the possibilities are sky high.

Imagine these smart goggles hooking up with your Facebook account and Flickr — every time you hook up with people, they get tagged and the photos are automatically added to your profiles…

Sorry Comments are close. Quite possibly for a good reason. Share your thoughts on some of my other posts or contact me directly.

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