The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) always throws up some exciting new innovations. One of the most talked about gadgets at this year’s event was a pair of glasses that displays incoming text messages without the recipient having to even look at their phone, let alone touch it.
Unveiled to the public for the first time at CES in Las Vegas earlier this month, Six15’s concept is simple: a Bluetooth connection links a mobile device to the glasses, tracking the head and eye movements to navigate incoming or stored text messages, which are displayed on the lens.
One battery cycle holds out for 1500 text messages, but Six15 promise future versions with greater capacity and extra features like thermal imaging. The final consumer product is not expected to market anytime soon, but judging by the reaction at CES, hopes are high.
The technology is pretty clever. A built-in head tracker allows augmented reality apps to communicate with the glasses, and patented ODIN see-through optics puts the lenses at around 6mm in thickness (around half that of the much-maligned Google Glass), capable of delivering a wider field of view and bona fide transparency.
Iterations of the glasses could come with optional thermal and visible cameras for other business applications, and Six15 have announced their intention to devise features specifically for individual applications.
Most importantly in marketability terms, the device represents the first see-through display that’s compatible with existing operating systems. By doing away with an additional OS built into the glasses, a major stumbling block to a viable consumer product has been eliminated.
The uses are obvious. Any situation that calls for a person to retrieve data whilst maintaining awareness of their environment - such as walking down the street - is ideal for the glasses. The makers say their device could improve warehouse safety, or be used to display GPS locations for first responders in medical emergencies.
This is not Six15’s first foray into smart glass tech. They’ve been providing similar devices for the military, a pedigree that will stand them in good stead when it comes to winning over consumers. They’ve successfully merged the technology used for defense with some of the key demands made by the consumer market.
In a thinly-veiled slight on the aforementioned Google Glass, the makers say their glasses are ‘a more realistic and less obtrusive application to wearable tech and head-mounted displays, unlike other devices currently in the market…’
Six15’s product remains (intriguingly) nameless. But it was the talk of the town in Las Vegas, a genuine leap forward in terms of performance and wearability. We await the final consumer-ready version with excitement.