7 Great Ways to Augment Your Reality—beyond Google Glass

0
141

If you took 

a pass on Glass during Google’s one-day public sale of its wearable computer last week, you’re not alone. Futuristic or not, most people aren’t thrilled at the idea of dropping $1,500 on a still-in-beta gadget that makes you look just a little geeky. (Second thoughts? Reports on the web today seem to indicate that the sale is still active.)

Despite all the hand-wringing over the tech, Glass is only the beginning of wearable, augmented reality technology. What’s more, there are actually several alternatives—some current, others promisingly near production—for meshing digital data streams into your in-the-moment reality. Not only does this gear go way beyond smart pedometers and connected watches, but most of these options are quite a bit cheaper than Glass, as well. Consider the options below.

Augmented Reality Apps
Part of Glass’s futuristic appeal is that it augments reality, or supplements your view of the world with high-tech visual input, such as a map overlay on a city block. AR is awesome—and it makes you feel like you’re in a video game or flying a fighter jet—but it’s not new, and it’s something you can get pretty easily (and cheaply) on any device that has a camera and an Internet connection.

To get sci-fi vision right away, download an AR app such as Wikitude (free; Android and iOS), which uses location data to give you a digital overlay of nearby restaurants, hotels, and attractions. Outdoorsy types will appreciate Theodolite ($3.99, iOS), a military-esque digital viewfinder with mapping, compass, and rangefinder features, as well as Sky Map (free; Android), an app that lets you point your phone at the stars and identify constellations.

Truly Wearable Tech
As a fashion statement, Glass is questionable, but logical: Most everyone can wear some type of glasses. But you know what else everyone wears? Socks. Sensoria Fitness created smart wearable tech in everyday garments—to date, their products include t-shirts, sports bras, and their latest creation, Fitness Socks ($149; Sensoria).

The socks are made of “high-tech, running-friendly fabric,” and features proprietary textile sensors. Pair the socks with the included detacheable Bluetooth anklet and Sensoria’s app will show you your step count, speed, calories, altitude, and distance, as well as your cadence, foot-landing technique, and weight distribution on your foot as you move. Sure, it’s a little much for the average runner, but the company says the real benefit comes from being able to identify injury-prone running styles, such as overpronating.

More Stylish Eyewear
Google isn’t the only company that wants to bring technology to your face—it’s just the most visible. But there are plenty of other smart glasses competitors on the market, many of which cost less and look cooler.

Recon Instruments’ Recon Jet smartglasses ($599, shipping late spring 2014; reconinstruments.com) are polarized sports sunglasses with a built-in head-up display for tracking performance metrics (including heart rate, power, cadence, speed, and distance) and displaying calls and text messages. Meanwhile, Laforge Optical is making a less obtrusive pair of smart glasses: Icis glasses ($620, shipping at the end of this year; laforgeoptical.com), which look like regular glasses and display information at the edge of your field of vision.

Fighter-Jet Functionality
Not everyone is on board with our future as cyborgs—a recent Harris Interactive poll found that the majority (59 percent) of Americans don’t understand the need for wearable tech devices at all. To be honest, it’s difficult to argue that Google Glass or smart pedometers are necessary or even all that useful—yet. But there are some areas in which augmented reality displays are very useful, such as in fighter jets.

Fighter jet HUDs keep pilots safe and focused on the task at hand, which is really important if you’re flying through the air at 2.5 times the speed of sound. It only makes sense to extrapolate HUD benefits to motorcycles—the fighter jets of the road. Silicon Valley startup Skully has done just that, with an augmented reality helmet that features a 180-degree rear-view camera, GPS navigation, and smartphone integration, all projected onto a HUD. The helmet is expected to debut later this year for over $1,000. Not a bad price for eyes in the back of your head.

 

main photo from the Theodolite app


Credit: http://www.menshealth.com