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Smart sunglasses for 2020 and beyond

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On Monday, I was listening to a radio show in my car, which almost took my breath away. On the show, a panel of experts were looking at various technology predictions for the years ahead. One of the predictions really grabbed my attention. And that’s what I’m going to share with you today.

As you may have guessed, the subject was smart eyewear, including sunglasses. The experts said that they looked at how far the technology has advanced over the past 5 years. The advances have indeed been amazing. Smart glasses / sunglasses have gone from bulky and awkward looking, to more like regular eyewear. At the same time, the computing technology packed into them has increased massively.

Smart sunglasses and eyewear

One of the predictions made by the show’s panel blew my mind. They said that within the next 5 to 10 years, it could be possible for someone wearing smart eyewear, to stream what they can see and what they can hear, in real time, to a 3rd party.

Think about that for a moment.

One of the applications for the technology, was very interesting. Imagine an untrained person at the scene of a medical emergency. They would be able to stream a live video / audio feed to a doctor. The doctor would then be able to see and hear everything, almost as if they were there on the scene. The doctor could then tell them what to do, in order for the patient to stand the best chances of a recovery. I regularly cycle during the day and always were sunglasses or clear, cycling glasses. Over the years, I have witnessed the aftermath of a few road accidents. All I have is a basic knowledge of how to help. If my sunglasses had been smart sunglasses, I would have been a lot more useful.

Another example was law enforcement. A vulnerable person would be able to press a button and send their exact location to law enforcement officers along with audio and video of the incident they are in. This would not only make it easy to find them, it would also provide video evidence of any offence that may have taken place.

In theory, you could do both of the above examples using a smartphone. However, there are 2 very big advantages of using smart eyewear.

Firstly, it’s a lot harder to keep the camera on the incident, when using a smartphone. Smart sunglasses / eyewear are always focused on what matters, because they record whatever you’re looking at.

Secondly, it isn’t possible to record someone using a smartphone, without them knowing. Whilst this may not be an issue when assisting with a medical emergency, it certainly is if you’re in a threatening situation. By recording the situation with your sunglasses, you are giving no indication of what you’re doing. Simply looking at what’s happening is enough for you to covertly transmit live video of the scene.

It seems the major technological barrier to making this a reality is less to do with the smart sunglasses / eyewear and more to do with infrastructure. To be able to press a button and call the police or call for medical assistance is simple. However, to press a button and for them to immediately be able to receive the video stream from your smart sunglasses is another matter. It relies on a fast and reliable Internet connection, plus software at the recipient’s end, which is capable of instantly connecting to your video stream. Then there is the potential for the smart eyewear to be hacked, thus allowing a hacker access to whatever you’re looking at.

This tantalising look into the future of smart sunglasses and smart eyewear in general is truly exciting. Yes, it comes with a few hurdles that will need to be resolved, but the potential is amazing.

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