HUDs, VR & Wearable tech

So, I got the inspiration for this post after watching a video about the Microsoft HoloLens today and decided to write a post on my personal thoughts and experiences when it comes to wearable and visual tech.

I guess wearable tech first came into my radar with Google Glass. It was an interesting project; not really VR (Virtual Reality), nor a HUD (Heads Up Display), but an info screen that was constantly in your field of view. Basically it was a pair of glasses with a camera and a small screen. I thought (and still think) that this project sounded really interesting, both having a easy to view screen constantly accessible and a camera you could instantly use, never having to miss a moment (this was particularly appealing with a baby on the way).

But the Glass project got a huge negative backlash, people felt people constantly walking around with cameras would be an invasion of their privacy and places started to ban the Google Glass before it ever had a chance to hit the market. I think this negative backlash more than anything convinced Google that the world wasn’t ready for this tech and as of this day a consumer version of Google Glass is yet to be released.

Next came the smart watches. I started off with a Sony Smartwatch 2 and it was brilliant (actually part of the reason for me to switch from iPhone to Android (a very small part and if I ever write more about that it deserves a whole post of it’s own)). I got all my notifications to my watch without any issues… well, except one. This was still the early days of smart watches, before google wear, so notifications were highjacked, rather than send to the watch, so they could often be fairly brief and I could take no action based on them. And since before Google Wear all the watches had their own OS with their own apps I was fairly limited in what apps I could use on it. Still, it was a great watch and sorta replaced the info screen that I never got from Google Glass.

I finally moved on to my next smart watch last month, when I bought a Moto 360 (2nd gen). I had been putting this off, despite desperately wanting a smart watch with android wear, because I just couldn’t find one that was to my liking. The original Moto 360 was cool and round, but with this ugly flat tire look at the bottom for the sensor (the 2nd gen still has it, but smaller), the LG G R (there’s a mouthful for you) had this huge bezel around the watch with hours marked, which really looks rather silly if you want to have a digital watch face and the rest just weren’t round, which for some reason I had set as a requirement :p.

Well, I finally decided to bite the bullet and got the Moto 360 (2nd gen) and have been very happy with it. It comes with this really nice looking leather wrist band and is over all a very sleek watch (I might write more about it once I’ve used it for a bit longer).

Aaaanyways, on from Smart watches to what the future holds. There are mainly two areas of wearable tech that are coming out soon; VRs and HUDs. VR or Virtual Reality is a headset which covers your eyes and projects an image of a… well, virtual reality. This can be applied to games, videos and maybe in the future movies. Google is currently working on a project where they create 360 degree views of places so you can really experience them with a virtual reality headset. The most prominent VR headset is the Occulus Rift, a project which was crowdfunded and later bought by Facebook, and is set to release their first set of VR goggles soon (or so they’ve said for a while :P). Other prominent makers of VR are Steam and Sony and there’s the Google Cardboard virtual reality set, where you just cut out a headset from cardboard and place your phone in it. Interesting to see what all this will be like when finally a consumer version is released.

As for HUDs. currently the only one I know of is the Microsoft HoloLens. While VR replaces your reality with a virtual one a HUD enhances your current reality by project stuff on top of what you see. The video I mentioned at the start of this article is one such example, another would be a tech demo Microsoft did when they first announced the HoloLens, where the people trying it out got to try wiring a light, with the help of an electrician who showed them what to do over the HoloLens (marked which wire they should connect to which & such, I’d imagine). Anyways, this is also a really interesting tech which’ll soon be released, really looking forward to it.

So, that’s that for that post, more about the subject once some consumer products are out and I get to take one for a spim 😉

Update: What I’ve been referring to as HUD in this post is more commonly referred to as Augmented Reality (as opposed to Virtual reality) or AR for short. I’m just so used to seeing the term HUD used in videogames for pretty much the same functionality that I automatically used that.

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