Apple may announce a new addition to the iFamily this year: Apple Glass, a set of AR glasses to complement existing Apple products. Even though we’ve seen this story before, here’s why Apple’s rumored eyewear might deserve your attention–if not your money.
This certainly isn’t the first time a technology company has taken their brand name and slotted the word “Glass” after it to create hype. In 2015, Google Glass was discontinued–quite publicly, in fact–due to a variety of issues, chief among which were privacy concerns, and an untenable price tag of around $1500. Lacking a clear market and suitable demand, the shades were put to rest, though it should be noted that a rebranded version is available now (for $999).
Apple is a company that has, in the past, showed a propensity for iteration rather than innovation; the Apple Watch, while a stylish and functional improvement on existing wearable technology, wasn’t even close to the first of its kin, and early versions of the iPad were scrutinized against similarly sized, lower-priced counterparts. This isn’t to say that Apple doesn’t do tech better–just that they are, often enough, pretty late to the party.
In the case of AR glasses, this is a habit that may suit Apple well.
Put bluntly, there isn’t a clearly established need for smart glasses, and while critics of the Apple Watch were quick to say the same thing about that implement, anyone who has worn one for a few hours can recognize (if not fully appreciate) the handiness–no pun intended. It seems fair to afford Apple some grace with this in mind, but the fact remains that the demand for a set of AR glasses simply isn’t there for now.
On the other hand (again, no pun intended), Apple is the master of creating demand and hype where previously there was naught but slumber. For this reason, it behooves us to keep an eye on Apple’s unveiled tech this year–if for no other reason than to know for sure how the company plans to address the sticky issue of AR wearables.
After all, there are numerous medical, exploratory, and generally functional applications for which one could feasibly use AR in a beneficial (not gimmicky) manner, and if Apple is able to expedite that process, far be it from us to criticize. Yet.