It’s probably fair to say that Google’s ambitious Google Glass project wasn’t quite the success the company had hoped it would be. The tech giant failed to change the way we see the world; though they are officially back to the drawing board and may yet surprise us.
The Wearables Challenge
The challenge with wearable computing as Google discovered and Apple are discovering with the iWatch is that people are only really open to using it – when it enhances what they do at the moment.
Sure, there are people open to walking around looking like an extra in Star Trek (Google Glass) but they are few and far between. The iWatch failed to appreciate that most people don’t want to recharge their watch on a daily basis. Technology that detracts from an existing user experience is almost always bound to fail.
Enter Project Genesis
Over in the United States, VSP (a vision care insurance provider and the largest such insurer in the US) runs an innovation think tank called The Shop.
They’ve been taking a whole new look at wearable technology in the form of eyeglasses; Project Genesis. Their product, unlike Google’s, resembles an ordinary pair of glasses. In fact, all the technology is cunningly hidden in a panel over the temple in the frame of the glasses. There’s no flashing lights or video recorder to put off the wearer or people that the wearer interact with.
The glasses contain Bluetooth functionality as well as a tiny CPU (Central Processing Unit), a gyroscope, an accelerometer and a magnetometer. In short, these glasses offer very similar functionality to a very popular piece of wearable technology – The Fitbit.
However, these glasses offer some advantages compared to the Fitbit. Firstly, if you need glasses – you wear glasses, there’s no need to hunt round for a special device (as with the Fitbit) before you leave home.
Secondly, they are able to track the overall position of the body more easily – thanks to the fact that glasses go on your head and not on your wrist. Project Genesis say that this will enable them to generate data regarding gait and posture – which will help alert the wearer to health issues and could be used by the elderly to help trigger an alarm in the event of a fall.
The Shop will be partnering with USC (University of Southern California) in order to take their prototype and make it a commercial enterprise and to increase the overall functionality of the glasses.
Will Project Genesis succeed where Google failed and bring wearable tech to millions of people? Only time can tell but it’s certain that the data that Project Genesis could create for insurers would be invaluable in better assessing health risks.