Lost your way? Let your spectacles lead you there

ONE day, it may be possible to put on a pair of spectacles which generates an arrow that can point the route to your destination.

Information about journey time and possible shortcuts would also appear.

This is the future of interactive eyewear as enhanced by augmented reality, according to Professor Steven Feiner, a computer scientist from Columbia University.

Augmented reality (AR) refers to the ability to interact physically with virtual media.

Prof Feiner, who directs the computer graphics and user interface lab at the university's computer science department, was speaking yesterday at the second EmTech Singapore conference, an annual two-day event for emerging technologies, held at Marina Bay Sands.

This year's conference, which ends today, brought together more than 500 scientists, business leaders and policymakers from the region.

AR eyewear would be of great use to what Prof Feiner terms "task assistance".

It would enable an expert to guide someone anywhere in the world in tasks like repairs, assembling things, or taking things apart.

The expert would see what the eyewear user is seeing and could, for example, draw an arrow pointing to an object in the real world.

In turn, the person wearing the spectacles will see the arrow superimposed in front of him.

Prof Feiner believes AR eyewear will be commercially viable and available "very possibly in this decade, maybe the next".

Last week, Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens, a gadget which looks like a pair of ski goggles but which has AR-like capabilities.

"It makes me excited to see large, respected companies like Microsoft making a product in the domain of interactive eyewear," said Prof Feiner.

"They're only going to get smaller and smaller and ultimately look like the glasses I'm wearing now."


This article was first published on Jan 28, 2015.
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