Seeing Double

New Class of Glasses Brings
A Clearer Sight For Sore Eyes

Here’s something that Google can’t control: ‘reality augmented’ glasses. Even before its wearable contraption is out, there’s already been challengers to it. And not just to simply enhance what we see, but also to reveal, educate, even warn us about what we may be missing.
Then again, glasses have been around pretty since humans have ears and noses to hang them, so it’d really be rich for the giant search engine to claim that too. But try they do. Thing is, for all the hoopla, the very concept of glasses as a vision enhancer may be on its way out.
There are now glasses that act as computers, smartphones, designing tools, interactive gadgets, revealing devices, and if you’re concerned about all that privacy-busting array of needed connections for these things to work properly, even an infrared visor that blocks facial recognition software.
The possibilities are not just endless, but actually encouraged. In a clever way to market its interactive-able set of lenses, one company is explicitly asking for input from anyone who may have an idea they don’t already own, on how to outfit your shades with that special juice. Quite challenging, really.
But there’s a reason why we don’t sound too jaw-dropping enthusiastic about these next wave of ever shrinking props, which seem ready to become as common as iris biometric identification systems and thought-activated computers. Or rather, a few reasons: the first one is exactly the P word (careful now), which we’ve just mentioned.
Yes, we’re still reserving ourselves the right to be shocked and weary of yet a new stage in the apparently inevitable process of surrendering every little bit of personal information in exchange for the chance of being ‘in.’ So what if they can’t place a name in your CCTV-captured face image?
Isn’t already much easier for anyone to track your shopping habits, therefore, finding out how you paid for that cheeky device that blocks the camera? Also, as we said, glasses have been around the corner a few million times. Wouldn’t be now time to come up with something radically different already?

We may be too picky here, spoiled even, but we just don’t get all worked up about the latest, technologically sophisticated, digital, organic, cage-free interactive mouse trap. As probably Einstein or someone else has already said, if at first your idea doesn’t sound too absurd, it may not be worth developing it.
Or may it is, as we know little about profitability projections, and market potential, and all that. In any event, there are already a number of glasses that allow you to watch TV or videos or speak to your ‘friends,’ anywhere. Just as if you were in your own pod, watching a giant interactive screen.
Some offer the multitasking typical of smartphones, and even voice-activated text message apparatus. So you can watch a movie, listen to music, play a video game, speak to your buddy, text your partner, search the Internet, and everything else, all while you take a walk around the corner.
Some have 3D capabilities. Others are also UV-protecting shades. And yet many have famous designers creating exclusive models, just to accommodate their massive, albeit micro tiny, inner hooks and links. And unlike the NYPD utility bell, they don’t lack any room for even more stuff.

Now if they could at least offer you a way to warn you of incoming cars, pedestrians, cab doors, and potholes, it’d all be really peachy. Their major shortcoming, according to those who navigate the streets of New York, or rode the subways with one of them, is exactly that: every once in a while you do have to take a look at the real world. Damn it.
There are deceptively humble models, that offer no less than a slight improvement over what you already have: along with progressive lenses, and ‘relaxing’ modes, to help you take a break from watching the computer screen for hours in a row, there are those who promise you only a mildly enhanced perception of colors or even night-vision.
Others are borderline illegal, as any recording device still is, the last time we’ve checked it, if the interlocutor is not aware you’re wearing one. But that should be a detail, right? After all, people spend large chunks of their day doing just that, granting the world a free, pre-recorded, downloadable version of themselves.
Perhaps because much of these latest developments have been concocted by college-aged techno geeks, among all these variations of the same theme, a truly different type of glasses also popped up: those that detect when so-called rape date drugs have been slipped into your drink and warn you.
Since this is a serious issue in campuses and bars throughout America, the idea has potential to help the efforts of rape prevention organizations. It can also be tweaked so to also monitor alcohol consumption and when one’s about to hit their limit, before passing out, something that seems even more daunting than exercising common sense.

Because that’s probably what’s missing in all these devices: a sense that much of the bad things that may happen to us in society, from being spied upon, to being preyed as if we’re innocent lambs, can at times be avoided by good judgement and restrain. Now go and tell that to your college-age kid, we know.
But the point is that, at the end of the day, your glasses may be telling you that the place is on fire, but you may be too addled, or busy watching a viral video, to act in time. Besides, time spent mastering the use of such devices can easily eat up time you need to observe and learn how to live a more fulfilling life.
Maybe it’s just us, but aren’t we placing too much of our faith on the ability of technology to protect us and help us navigate the inherently chaotic nature of experience? In other words, we may become extremely able with our eye-hand coordination, but still emotionally inept to realize that there’s a wolf with an eye on us all along.
As we said, we’re all for innovation and technological advances and all that. Truly, we are; at this point, we’d be as lost as a toddler in a slaughterhouse without our smartphone, and ipad, and charger, and plenty of batteries, and, well, glasses too. But we like to think that we do spend a few minutes a day unhooked and unplugged.
Or perhaps we just don’t see it, and it’s fine too. There’s a video going viral as we now speak, of an 84-year old playing a video game with his grandson that’s really special. Throughout it, he flickers, and jumps, and screeches, and one can see how much fun they’re both having. As if anyone who’s into games wouldn’t have already told you.
But you know what’s really amazing about the whole thing? it’s not the fact that the old man seems as giddy and cheerful as any kid would be, or because of his obvious advanced skills as a player. No, what really made our day was watching how the two of them interact, all 70 years they have apart instantly wiped out, just on the sheer of a moment of shared companionship.
So, get the shades of your choice, and watch your step, but let’s not lose sight of how much more meaningful the un-enhanced, un-augmented, and definitely un-geeky reality really is. With the added benefit of being suitable and within the reach of anyone, no personal information required in order to be ‘in.’ As someone once sang, just come out and play already.

One thought on “Seeing Double

  1. eremophila says:

    I want something that simply gives me improved vision – and something that’s not affected by raindrops, steam, dust; something I can swim with, or turn somersaults, and that doesn’t have to hang off my nose – all at a price I can afford. Yeah, I know, I’m wishing for the unattainable….. but as you say, surely it’s time something better came along?! As for these contraptions, it’s just another ploy to keep us distracted from the main game…..


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