A New Understanding of Computing

In last week’s column, I wrote about the potential of Apple introducing a set of AR glasses in 2020. I pointed out that financial analyst Ming-Chi Ko has repeatedly written to his clients stating that Apple will bring their first-generation AR glasses to market in the new year. I wrote that while I am still skeptical they can get powerful AR glasses to market in 2020, Ming-Chi Ko pipeline into Apple’s future products is so often correct that I cannot dismiss that this could be a possibility.

I also built a case as to why Apple might do a version of AR glasses in 2020, way before I believe that the technology will be ready to create AR glasses that will be acceptable to the mass market. I reasoned that Apple, as in the past, could introduce a model that would be acceptable to their early adopter customers as they did with first-generation iPods and iPhones, and use the first two years to learn from people using these glasses. Even in their early form, they could fine-tune each model, and a generation three version of AR glasses could be the kind of product that would really get the attention of a broader audience. It was the third year of the iPod and iPhone that they really took off as Apple enhanced these products over the first two years and added more software and services to them, which caused them to cause much more demand for both products.

Regardless of whether Apple will be the first to bring a successful set of AR glasses to market or some other company gets this concept right, I believe that AR and mixed reality glasses will represent a major turning point for the PC industry.

From 1978 to 2007, computers were defined in terms of desktops and laptops. In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone and basically gave us a computer in your pocket. With the iPad, Apple introduced a successful tablet computing concept to the market, and with the Apple Watch, we got a computer on our wrist.

But with AR and mixed reality glasses, we may be entering the era of the vanishing computer. This is not to say we still won’t have desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and even wristwatch computers in our lives for many more years in the near future. But with AR and mixed reality glasses, it is within the realm of possibility that the personal computer fades so much into the background that it is not noticeable at all.

Early generations of AR and Mixed reality glasses will all be tied to smartphones, which will serve as the brains behind these glasses at first. In fact, I believe the smartphone will power AR glasses for most of the next decade. But by the end of the decade, all of the intelligence will be in the glasses themselves and become the central computer of our digital lifestyle.

Glasses have been in use for close to two centuries. Today they fade into the background and, while they provide important optical functions for those who use them, they have become stylish and fashionable. And in a lot of cases, we don’t even notice them on people who use them as they have just become part of their lives and fashion statements.

AR and mixed reality glasses, by the end of this decade, will embody all of the computing power we need to manage our digital lives. We may still need other forms of computers, mostly laptops tablets and maybe smartphones, to supplement some of our productivity workloads. However, AR and mixed reality glasses may have most of the functionality we need to live and interact with our digital world. We will use voice commands to get the info we need. We will use gestures to navigate AR and mixed reality environments. It will deliver nearly 100 % of text-to-speech translation and have live video features so you can talk to friends either in virtual rooms or in your actual surroundings.

From the time people started using AR and mixed reality glasses, even in its early form, they are starting down a road from the computers of their past and entering a new age where the computer disappears, and it becomes deeply integrated into their much more futuristic digital lifestyle.

While some people today see AR and mixed reality glasses merely as a novelty and some even question its value altogether, I believe these glasses represent the future of personal computing.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

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