The classic US vs. UK showdown has now spread into the world of Augmented Reality eyewear. For the last few months, tech nerds in the US have been bragging about the future with Google’s Glass (Google’s augmented reality glasses), but with the UK’s recent developments, the future of AR eyewear might have to involve some British imports.
Cambridge company TTP
(The Technology Partnership—not known for their name) has developed a pair of glasses that, long story short, are better than Google’s AR glasses. They work by projecting an image from one of the spectacle arms onto the center of the lens. The lenses are etched with some super sophisticated pattern that then beams the image back to the user’s eye. TTP also engineered their high speed Switchable Fast Focus lens technology (SwiFT) into the glasses, allowing users to view objects on multiple planes, in full 3-D.
You might be thinking, ‘Are these UK glasses really better than Google’s?’ And with mediocre confidence, I can tell you—Yes, they are (though I’ve never seen nor touched said glasses). Here’s why:
First of all, TTP’s AR glasses look like real glasses, and they’re engineered to work so no one around you even knows you have on a pair of really expensive Terminator goggles. Google’s glasses don’t look like real glasses—they’re just a metal band you wear around your head with a small screen over one eye. So if AR glasses end up flopping, everyone will be able to pick you out of the crowd as that loser who jumped on the AR glasses bandwagon a little too early.
Also, TTP envisions their glasses serving a slightly more noble purpose than Google’s. TTP reported that the glasses could be incredibly useful by helping doctors examine patients, allowing the mechanically challenged to look at a car engine and know what they’re looking at, and providing real time data like heart-rate or blood pressure while running or jogging. What did Google choose to highlight as their glasses’ greatest potential? Helping you find the subway, checking the weather, finding a book in a soon-to-be out of business book store—you know, things that advance human society.
In the end, none of this will even matter until AR eyewear catches on. Realistically, it is a little hard to imagine everyone walking around with funky pair of glasses on. However, TTP made a great rebuttal to that argument by saying, “If you told people in 2002 that they would have email on their phone, they would have said ‘why do I need that?’” I’m sure people in Britain did say, “Do I really need that,” all while Americans were boycotting phones that couldn’t capture HD video. Cultural differences aside, the friendly competition will only benefit the consumer…who hopefully will soon be able to own a really cool pair of AR glasses.