The tech industry is hell-bent on selling you a face computer. Even after many consumers recoiled at the sight of Google Glass, other companies are pushing forward with their own stab at a pair of smart glasses. And if you thought Glass looked dorky, just wait.
Starting today, developers can pre-order Sony’s new Smart Glasses for $840 and start to tinker around with its software development kit. The bulky-looking smart specs, which will officially ship next year, come equipped with a tiny camera and an array of sensors to help you not just look, but feel like a robot.
According to TechCrunch, Sony’s smart glasses are heavier than Google’s and come with a dedicated handheld controller. Whereas Google at least tried to make the design of Glass somewhat subtle, Sony is going full Star Trek with these 77-gram space goggles.
But perhaps its bigger, dorkier footprint is a good thing for Sony’s overall strategy. Google ran into PR trouble with Glass as the smart specs started to show up on people in normal social situations, as though anyone would be able to overlook the fact that they looked like freaky futuristic cyborg specs. With Sony’s smart glasses, it’s as though they’re not even trying to make them look socially acceptable. It’s as though they’re saying: No, you should not wear these at the bar. Maybe they’ll be helpful on the job or when you’re driving in a new city. But for the love of God, don’t show up at a party with these things on. Not even at South By Southwest. You dweeb.
Of course, Google’s introduction of Glass has gone so contrary to its plans that the company recently pulled the Glass Explorer program and appears to be rethinking its entire approach to its controversial smart glasses.
So what makes Sony think it can succeed where Google couldn’t? A touch of hubris, perhaps. But as hard as Glass was to swallow for many consumers, this type of technology has plenty of legitimate uses: Navigation, interactive learning, and various industry-specific tasks could all be enhanced by an Internet-connected heads-up display.
For Sony, as well as any other company looking to get into this sector of wearable technology, the complex path to success has a lot to do with design and just as much to do with marketing. When they ship, Sony’s Smart Glasses won’t be for everyone. But if Sony can spin it the right way–and presuming developers come up with some truly useful use cases–you may well be ordering a pair of these cyborg glasses. Just don’t wear them on a date.