Google Glass is an important step, but the technology is nothing new, and it barely scratches the surface of what wearable technology can do, says the man dubbed “The Father of Wearable Computing”.
Dr. Steve Mann, Chief Scientist, Meta & Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto was on BNN’s “The Street” Friday to talk about his history with Google Glasses-like technology.
Mann says he built his first digital eye glasses back in the 1970’s. He then went on to found the wearable computing project at MIT in the early 90’s. Mann helped a company that was borne out of the era, MicroOptical Corporation, develop a head-mounted display system for the U.S. military. Most of the important patents that company owned were ultimately acquired by Google, and used for its Glass project.
Mann now works with California-based company Meta, which has a product called “Space Glasses”, which he says almost completely blur the line between reality and virtual reality.
“The real world and the virtual world become one in the same.” says Mann. “When you are in this world cyber space, we call it “cyborg space” and the real world sort of merge into the same thing.”
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Space Glasses, which Meta dubs as the “The World’s Most Advanced Personal Holographic Interface” allows users to sculpt objects such as a vase digitally, take the rendering to a 3D printer, then physically place the end product on the mantle in their home. Two users of the glasses can play a game of chess using a table that will look to the naked eye like an everyday piece of furniture.
“It’s funny,” says Mannn. “As I’m walking down the street people say “Oh, is that Google Glass?” He says he explains that the model he is wearing is something he actually built fourteen years ago.
The META.01 Developer Edition will ship in January for $667. The META.01 Streamlined Edition will begin shipping next April for the same price. The company provides a cheeky three step instruction guide for its glasses. Step one, it says.”Buy the glasses and connect to your PC.” Step two: “Download apps or build your own in Unity 3D”. Step three: “You are Tony Stark”.