A few weeks ago I went to a local Mobile Monday event on the topic of wearable computing. Attendance was quite good, as apparently wearable computing captures the current technology zeitgeist quite well.
Philipp Nagele of Wikitude was one of the presenters and panelists. Wikitude is an Austrian augmented reality company that jumped on the mobile augmented reality bandwagon a couple years ago when it was all the rage. They offer both a consumer-oriented app for all major smartphone platforms as well as an SDK and developer tools. Naturally, Wikitude’s main interest in wearable computing is currently focused on wearable displays, HUDs and augmented reality glasses – eyewear similar to Google Glass.
Philipp shared three interesting things that stuck in my head:
First, he doesn’t use Google Glass personally because he doesn’t find it sufficiently pleasant and useful at this point. Which struck me as a curious thing to say from someone working in a professional capacity on augmented reality applications 🙂
Second, he shared that most of their (current) business and income is coming from business- and developer-oriented offerings, not their consumer-oriented smartphone apps. I didn’t find this particularly surprising, but good to have that hunch confirmed.
Third, he predicted that most of the early demand for Google Glass and similar applications will come from specialized industries and professions in vertical markets. Applications tailored for narrow and specific niches, to be used by highly-trained professionals in specialized domains (or maybe also to reduce the need for highly-trained professionals in these specialized domains). Like the solutions offered by companies such as Augmedix and Wearable Intelligence:
This makes sense: I’ve always had a hard time imagining what I could use Google Glass for. I already spend most of my day in front of a PC. When I’m not in front of the PC, my tablet or smartphone are always within reach. Pretty much the only use case I could see for myself right now is cooking, because I’m a terrible cook and getting cooking instructions while having both hands free seems somewhat useful to me. Maybe that will be the first wave of successful, useful apps for wearable displays: apps for people who don’t sit at a desk and work with their hands (unfortunately that target demographic doesn’t include me).
As far as Google Glass’ appeal is concerned: I’m far more intrigued by the prospect of a wearable camera than a wearable display.