Wearable Tech World Feature Article
January 22, 2013

The Battle of the Futuristic Personal Gadget: Smart Glasses or Smart Watches?

If you’re a bit of a futurist, you’re probably eager to get your hands on your Google Glasses, the company’s augmented reality (AR) glasses prototype. The company ginned up enthusiasm for the concept recently by releasing a video of what a wearer of the glasses sees while (curiously) jumping on a trampoline. While the video doesn't yet demonstrate the promise of the glasses to seamlessly integrate virtual information with what your human perception really sees, the demonstration still has the blogosphere aflutter.

The glasses, designated “Project Glass,” would essentially place all the convenient features of a smartphone right in front of the wearer's eyes, eliminating the need to stare at a phone’s screen for most of the day. A wearer could walk down the street while viewing his/her calendar appointments, getting a weather update, watching step-by-step directions via Google Maps, or dictating to his/her phone commands such as to pull up photos or add appointments to the calendar…all of this without the risk of walking into an open manhole cover or out into traffic while concentrating on a smartphone screen.

Image via google.com

Not everybody thinks the future is in augmented reality glasses. At least one tech company, Qualcomm, is borrowing an old idea from Maxwell Smart or Dick Tracy: “smart watches.”

Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs recently told the blog Pocket-Lint that fully immersive AR glasses give him and others painful headaches.

"I spent a lot of time on glasses at one point," said Jacobs. "And the issue for me is that the ones that were very immersive I would get a headache from.”

Instead, said Jacobs, Qualcomm will concentrate on a different kind of wearable technology: smart communications strapped to the user’s wrist.

"Right now we’re more focused on things like smart watches - always-on display on your wrist - those kinds of ideas as opposed to glass," said Jacobs.

Smart watches were a bit of a theme at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year. Casio debuted its Bluetooth G-Shock GB-5600A at the event, and wearable superthin E Ink displays and the Kickstarter Pebble were also heavily featured.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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