It is undeniable that technology has the ability to significantly impact everyday life. Every now and then a gadget comes along that changes the way we live our lives. The personal computer, world wide web and the smartphone all exemplify this quality. For some of the younger generation around, going through the day without having access to the internet would be unimaginable. If you ask me, the next big step for gizmos is going to be wearable design.
Right now, there are two big wearable devices just over the horizon, namely Google Glass and Oculus Rift. Helmed by the Google X department, which is also responsible for Google's driverless car project, Google Glass is an attempt at a wearable computer with an OMHD (optical head-mounted display). Information will be displayed in a smartphone-like hands-free way and voice commands are also being implemented.
Oculus Rift on the other hand is a virtual reality, head mounted display. Instead of using two screens, the device just has a single 7-inch LCD screen and compatible software splits the picture into side by side 3D. Images are also rendered into a warped circular view to work in conjunction with the Rift's lens in order to produce realistic scenery. The consumer version, titled Oculus Rift 2.0, promises 1080p resolution as well as improved head tracking and perhaps even wireless operation.
The similarities between the two devices stop at the fact that they are both wearable. Google Glass is definitely not as extreme as some of the biohacks ala "Deus Ex", but it is most certainly an "augmentation" in my opinion. Glass is shaping up to be an information source which will literally be at your beck and call, ready to enhance how you process and experience everyday stimulus. I for one already whip out my phone to fact-check every time I hear my friends utter what I consider to be a dubious statement. I can only imagine how many things I would Google if it was as convenient as just uttering a single command.
Oculus Rift on the other hand seems to be aiming to deliver a heavy dose of escapism. Providing an immersive environment, the head mounted display is being positioned as the ultimate gaming accessory. Realistic 3D gaming where your field of vision is controlled by movements of your head alone is a strong enough draw. But there is no reason for developers to stop just there. A simple online search will reveal a multitude of 360-degree panoramic museum tours. Google Earth (more specifically, the Street View Project and its enhancements) has mapped out some of nature's most breathtaking scenes. There is no reason why this content should not also be made available on the Rift in the future. I wouldn't even mind is content producers went full Aldous Huxley "Brave New World" and started churning out "feelies" for the device.
Personally, I don't see the need for another device to keep me plugged in and connected. If I had a Google Glass Explorer Edition, I think it would just add another layer removing me further from, for lack of a better word, the "real" world. Oculus Rift on the other hand would add a dash of realism to my favorite pastimes i.e. gaming. In a hypothetical either/or scenario between the Google Glass and Oculus Rift, I'm currently gravitating more towards the latter. With both devices vaguely slated to be available for mass consumers from 2014 onwards, thankfully I won't have to make the decision in real life for a while.
If you were faced with the same conundrum, which would you choose? Roll in your thoughts below!
Hurrairah bin Sohail / Former Tech Writer
Good tech has good specs, great tech has personality. Keeping that in mind, Hurrairah expects character and performance from any gadget he spends his hard earned cash on. As a guitar player and 'struggling' musician, he has an appreciation for natural sound is tasked with reviewing speaker systems.