Why Smart Glasses Might Not Make You Smarter?

Here is an exclusive interview with Steve Mann, General Chair of ISTAS13 on the imminent explosion of wearable devices- will they make us smarter? Here he talks with Elise Ackerman of IEEE Spectrum.

Copyright: Steve Mann

Copyright: Steve Mann

"Steve Mann: It depends on how you define “smart.” I would say the effects of glass have to be carefully thought out, whether they make you smarter or dumber or different. For example, in 1978 I came up with what I call generation-one glass. It included a camera and a display, similar to the products you are seeing come on the market now. I found that design created a lot of strange effects. In effect, it took your eye out of the eye socket and moved it to one side a little bit. That doesn’t make you smarter. It makes you dizzier and more confused, and it makes you trip and fall, and it gives you strange unpleasant flashbacks when you take it off. It will make you stupid.
I overcame that by creating generation-two glass, which causes the eye itself to become the camera. That is to say, if a person is wearing generation two or higher, when you look them in the eye it looks like they have a glass eye. We called this “digital eyeglass” back in the ’70s and ’80s.
Generation-two glass can make you more situationally aware. However, there were still problems with focusing and depth, so we came up with generation three and generation four, where the display is a laser device that causes the eye itself to become both a camera and a display with infinite depth of focus."