Why are AR glasses that are clamoring to replace mobile phones always failing?

Ask a question: Do you like to watch online conferences?

Nowadays, online conferences have become a norm. Before a new product is released, technology manufacturers will always form several shooting teams to shoot short videos around the product, and then convene executives to introduce the highlights in front of the white PPT wall. The whole process is orderly, but it will always make people feel the same after watching too much.

Go back 10 years, and the press conference at that time was much more exciting than it is now.

At the Google I/O conference in 2012, Google released a product that was considered to define the direction of technology in the next decade-Google Glass. The way it appeared was as memorable as its shape itself.

At the end of the Google I/O 2012 conference, Google's co-founder Sergey Brin suddenly stepped onto the stage, saying that he had a "cool thing" to introduce to the audience, and on his face, hung Wearing a weird, asymmetrical spectacle frame.

Obviously this one-legged spectacle frame is what Sergey Brin said was "a cool thing Google has been secretly researching", but before introducing it, he made a video call with his friend on the spot.

The screen on the big screen turned, and several skydivers with one-legged glasses frames like Sergey Brin appeared. They were preparing to fall from the sky at high altitude, and the picture was shot in real time from the first perspective of another skydiver. The shooting equipment is the one-legged spectacle frame that he wears on his face.

Soon, the skydivers jumped out of the cabin one by one and landed towards the ground of San Francisco. The scenery they saw was captured by the glasses and broadcast to the venue in real time, which was tense and exciting. Soon the group of athletes landed on the roof of a house. They quickly took off their parachutes, put on mountain bikes and rode to the wall of the building, used ropes to quickly descend into the house, and finally put on bicycles and rode fast, just like the movie Special Forces here.

The whole process was captured by glasses and broadcasted to the scene. In the end, the picture came to the door of a room. The athletes opened it and went in. The participants appeared in the picture—Google Glass came from the sky to the conference site, and the atmosphere was aroused. was detonated. At this time, Sergey Brin does not need to explain more. People all over the world understand what Google Glass is.

Google Glass is one of the most tech-savvy products of the past 10 years, and it paints a picture of a future where everyone has a screen on their face. At that time, the concept of wearable devices was just emerging, the Apple Watch had not yet been released, and AR glasses were people's best idea for the second screen outside the mobile phone. This thought is 10 years.

But 10 years later, the mobile phone has not only not been killed, but has become more powerful, and AR glasses are still suffocating for dreams.

Why haven't AR glasses become mainstream until now?

A failure in gorgeous packaging

Google Glass was an epoch-making feature-driven product and its most famous flop; the future of computing terminals and a weird voyeuristic tool. You can define Google Glass however you want, it is a dream of the tech world, it can be either a dream or a nightmare.

From the perspective of product development, Google Glass, which was discontinued in 2015, was a failure. It took less than 3 years for this small screen above the right eye to shake the world and be abandoned by the world.

But back to the beginning of the birth of Google Glass, it may not have intended to embrace the public from the beginning.

According to foreign media reports, Sergey Brin, the Google X team, and the Google marketing team knew that Google Glass was still a semi-finished product before the press conference, and there were still many loopholes and problems to be solved, which were not suitable for public exposure.

But in the end, the Google team decided to show off this amazing glasses to the world in advance, and then launched a public beta version of Google Glass called the Explorer Edition.

Wanting to participate in the Google Glass beta requires not only financial resources, but also luck. At that time, Google only released 8,000 public beta places, and only after being selected could the semi-finished Google Glass be purchased at a sky-high price of $1,500.

The very few places and the super high price add a lot of mystery to Google Glass, making geeks all over the world wonder what role this small glass can play. Any news related to Google Glass and AR glasses can Set off a huge wave of traffic on the network.

From a marketing point of view, the launch of Google Glass is undoubtedly a success, but it is precisely because of this hunger marketing promotion that people have put too high expectations on Google Glass.

When people's emotions returned to calm, they quickly discovered the flaws of Google Glass wrapped in gorgeous wrapping paper: few functions, weak performance, exaggerated shape, and long battery life.

Google Glass can display information such as weather, messages, phone calls, etc. It can be used to take pictures, record videos, navigate, or evoke Google Assistant to help you search for content. It sounds rich, but this is almost all of its functions. Any entry-level smartphones can beat it functionally.

In terms of battery life, Google Glass claims to have a standard battery life of 6 hours, but according to statistics, less than half of the users can reach this figure. If you use the camera frequently to shoot, it may run out of it within 2 hours. Battery — and that's exactly what Google is touting.

In addition, Google Glass has also attracted a lot of privacy disputes due to its exaggerated shape and ostentatious camera. People are afraid that they will be secretly photographed by the camera on the glasses, so Google Glass will be attacked in many social places. Exclusion or restriction, if you must take it out, be prepared to be considered a freak.

The most important and crucial reason to prevent the popularity of Google Glass is its high price. For consumers, buying a pair of glasses that can only display simple information for $1,200 is not as cost-effective as buying a dishwasher. It can actually bring about changes in your lifestyle.

At that time, people believed that as the technology matured, the price of AR glasses would eventually drop to a level acceptable to consumers, and then AR glasses would really wait until the first year of its outbreak. It's a pity that until now, Google Glass has not been able to overcome the pit, and other AR glasses have not been able to fill it.

AR + glasses = ?

Every cutting-edge technological product that astounds the world can be decomposed into a combination of many common technologies, such as electric vehicle + camera = self-driving car; touch screen + communication module = smart phone.

The reason why these products are top-notch is that they can bring about innovative human-computer interaction modes through the integration of different technologies.

So what can AR + glasses get?

A second screen that displays information close to your body? The more approachable-looking smartwatch has proven to be a better fit for the role; a voice assistant at will? True wireless headsets can also provide corresponding functions; a camera that shoots all the time? The effect of shooting with an action camera such as a Go Pro is obviously better.

It's a bit ironic that we can't find a reason to use AR glasses when all the great features on Google Glass now have better alternatives – AR glasses have nourished the concept of wearable smart products, but it's hard to see why. Feed themselves.

The core reason is that the current AR glasses cannot support the concept of AR (Augmented Reality).

Searching for AR glasses on e-commerce websites today, you will find that there are already many consumer-grade AR glasses products on the market, but unlike the Google Glass that people are more familiar with, most consumer-grade AR products are in front of the glasses. Put a laser projection display screen, the main selling point is that you can watch movies with glasses.

As for what is in the real world, it has nothing to do with the displayed content, which weakens the concept of AR to a certain extent and makes AR narrow.

In addition to these consumer-grade products, Xiaomi, OPPO and other manufacturers have also released some AR glasses concept products this year. They are closer to people's imagination of AR glasses in form, but they still cannot get rid of the shadow of Google Glass in terms of function. , only exists as a derivative of the smartphone.

You will find that we are still stuck in the circle drawn by Google in the past ten years. It is difficult for AR glasses to achieve real popularity without breaking the curse of high cost but weak performance.

This is why technology giants such as Google and Microsoft have focused their AR products on the industrial side, using Google Glass and Hololens to provide advanced solutions such as remote collaboration and remote guidance for industrial production. Compared with the consumer side, industrial-grade products are more inclusive of cost and user experience, and the actual role of AR in industrial production is also higher, and the benefits are greater.

Designing a pair of AR glasses is logically similar to designing smart devices such as mobile phones. Simply put, it is to improve its computing power and enrich its functions while controlling power consumption.

However, because eyewear products need to pay more attention to controlling product size and wearing comfort, there is very little space left for electronic components such as processors, cameras, batteries, etc. The entire design process is like performing heart bypass surgery on ants.

At the same time, AR glasses have high requirements for core computing power. In order to integrate digital display content with real objects, the glasses need to be able to "understand" the real objects you see. AI recognition capabilities have extremely high requirements.

In people's imagination, the role of AR display should be to further shorten the distance between people and the digital world: when you are looking at the bus stop sign, a prompt window will appear around the stop sign to tell you how long the nearest bus will arrive; When you are at the restaurant's signboard, a small window will appear showing the restaurant's rating and signature dishes.

To realize these functions, it is necessary to insert a more powerful engine into the "ant's body", which is also the direction that AR glasses developers and processor manufacturers are striving to develop.

Recently, Niantic, the developer of "Pokemon Go", released a AR glasses concept machine based on Qualcomm's newly released Snapdragon AR2 platform. Judging from the concept video released by Niantic, AR games and AR real-world interaction are what they want. Implemented key functions.

As the developer of the most successful AR game at present, Niantic has rich technical accumulation and unique understanding in the AR field. It has summarized five major requirements for AR glasses design from user feedback, namely, comfort, wireless, and portability. , compact and functional.

In order to ensure comfort, Niantic tries to keep the weight of the AR glasses below 250g, so that users will not feel tired after playing for 1 or 2 hours. Compared with Google Glass, Niantic's design is bigger and heavier, but compared with some VR devices, Niantic's AR glasses are still much lighter and more suitable for users to take out.

Niantic's AR glasses consist of a lens display and a fabric-like headband. Its processing core, the Snapdragon AR2, is hidden inside the headband. It consists of three 4nm chips. Compared with Qualcomm's previous generation XR processor, it has AI performance. It has increased by 2.5 times and power consumption has been reduced by 50%, making it possible to play AR games on glasses, real-time AR navigation and other AR experiences.

Judging from the display effect alone, Niantic's AR glasses are obviously not as cool as the Google Glass that landed over San Francisco, but from the perspective of the development of AR technology, Niantic's concept is obviously closer to the AR world we imagined.

As the core of Niantic's concept phone, the emergence of the Snapdragon AR2 platform marks a greater possibility of high-performance computing for AR glasses in the future, and a better balance between its size and power consumption. If AR glasses can continue to develop according to the degree of "involution" of smartphones, the cyber world depicted in sci-fi works may come earlier.

Niantic CEO John Hanke was asked in an interview how he views the relationship between AR devices and people. He believes that although AR glasses are still a niche product, they may soon become part of people’s lives like smart watches. Necessity, all this just needs more time for technical improvement and program development. Regarding the time node of this "National AR", he believes that it will take 3-5 years.

Until then, will you be willing to try this "cool stuff" that Sergey Brin pulled out more than a decade ago again?

Cut the crap.

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