Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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At last, smart glasses that don’t make you look like a total dweeb

At last, smart glasses that don’t make you look like a total dweeb

I have worn glasses every day since the start of the fifth grade. At the time, Harry Potter had yet to come out and I was just a nerdy child with round glasses. Then the books became a sensation and I spent years hearing whispers of “Harry Potter” everywhere—even in libraries. The closest I’ve ever come to a day without glasses is the time a partner suggested we do indoor rock climbing and my glasses fell off my sweaty head from a few stories up. They were repaired within hours. All of which is to disclose that I am in the tank for Big Glasses—both figuratively and literally.

And yet…

Let’s step back for a second. Vue is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for what is effectively a not-too-obnoxious augmented reality pair of eyeglasses, only without much augmented reality. No dorky designs or big cameras. Just glasses with bone conduction speakers, a tap interface on the frame, and lights that alert you to incoming calls. Oh, and the glasses connect with your phone via Bluetooth to create a hands-free interface for all sort of tasks. (Yes, the ideal result is that you look like you are talking to yourself for much of the day. Isn’t the future great?)

All of that makes sense, though I’m not entirely sure that Vue really wants to make glasses. Don’t get me wrong: their glasses look nice. But glasses, in the augmented reality sense, usually means something to the effect of “interface mounted on your face in a not-hugely-obtrusive manner.” Vue is all of those things. It is also a pair of glasses. If, like me, you need plenty of assistance to see just about everything, that’s great. If, like some people, you just like wearing glasses, that’s also great. But glasses, like watches, are old fashion typologies used to deliver new ideas. That makes a certain amount of commercial sense, but is awkward nonetheless.

Much as the Apple Watch feels like an excuse to strap an interface on your wrist, augmented reality glasses tend to feel like short-term fixes to bigger problems. Some augmented reality glasses—see, for instance, Google’s—really want to be contact lenses. Others are basically excuses for cameras. Vue is the mildly augmented reality pair of glasses for right now; it makes sense as a pair of glasses, even if that’s a reminder of how much room these technologies have to mature.

Vue is currently raising funds on Kickstarter.

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Precision wireless controllers for your virtual, augmented and actual reality.
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