In the space of a decade, the world has witnessed a surge in wearable technological creations. The light-weight, head-mounted computer ‘Google Glass’ became available to purchase in 2014. Two years later, the pricy Snap Inc. ‘Snapchat Spectacles’ were released. Both media devices highlighted the rapid speed of improvement in hands-free technology.

Upon release, Google Glass became THE wearable technological breakthrough. The voice-controlled smart device boasts an impressive number of features; a camera, accelerometers, compass, touch pad, micro USB charger port, gyroscope and a speaker. It uses a simple interface, has Wi-Fi access and is GPS enabled. Glass even has Google translate as a built-in feature.

However, the device was criticized. It was costly (at £1,000), had privacy issues (banned in several public places) and its appearance was ‘geeky’. It ceased production in January 2015.

Snapchat Spectacles are said to be a more fashionable option than Glass. At £105 each, frequent users of Snapchat may be tempted to invest in a pair of these video-recording specs.

The hands-free alternative shares most basic functions with the Snapchat app, such as editing snaps with text and emojis, and impresses with its video quality.

However, Snapchat Spectacles have also been ridiculed. People found fault with the muffled audio and were left unimpressed with the lack
of features (such as face filters, limited selfie-taking options and the inability to take still imagery).

This new technological wave is further complimented by advances in Virtual and Augmented Reality. VR has been around since Charles Wheatstone’s 1838 creation ‘The stereoscope’, whilst the AR phenomenon began in 1968 with the first head-mounted display system created by Ivan Sutherland. Recent years have seen both take off.

VR headset ‘Google Cardboard’ was released in November 2014. The device works with several game and video apps, comes with the Google Earth demo and allows users to watch YouTube on a huge screen. It was a landmark creation, and Samsung followed suit with their 2015 headset ‘Samsung Gear VR’.

Popular app ‘Pokémon Go’ gave AR worldwide attention. Since its release in July 2016, the app has been downloaded over 650 million times and requires users to actively ‘catch’em all’.

Is AR set to become the next big thing in technology? What’s in the pipeline…?