In order to collect the real time data, wearables are key. Currently, it's universally acceptable to have phones in our hands, smartwatches on our wrists and even an Airpod constantly hanging out of our ear; each pushing us information and keeping us constantly connected. Now the tech industry’s attention has moved to eyewear. Giving our ‘digital assistant’ access to what we see and in-turn being able to visualize data without reaching for our phone is the next step in augmenting our day-to-day. Whilst the technology still has some way to go if it’s to be small, powerful and accessible enough to be adopted mainstream, there is also the question of whether we are ever going to be prepared to walk around with something fixed to our face.
Our face is personal. For the majority of people, it’s on show all the time. We spend time each day looking at it, cleaning, grooming and putting makeup on it. It’s the reason we typically spend ages deciding on which pair of glasses to purchase. These decisions say something about us, and whether we admit it or not, we care what other people think. And there is a good reason for this. For humans, faces are among the most important visual stimuli in social situations. We have little reason to look at someone's wrist or hands when we are speaking to them, but it would be rude not to look at their face. With this in mind; the key to adoption of any mixed reality glasses is going to be size, comfort and expression.
“Our work with fitness gaming brand Quell has taught us that fitness is only going to be drawing more inspiration from gaming. If we are to have a closer relationship with our digital selves, why wouldn’t we want to personalise them.”
We already have a digital self, a version of ourselves online that we tweak and curate to best showcase the aspects of ourselves we want to share. Given the opportunity to design our own digital twin, we may choose to shake off the human persona altogether and select the likeness of a bear or a fictional character. Because why not? If we are going to open ourselves up to the idea of living across the physical/digital divide, we may as well have some fun with it.
Based on these insights, the Morrama team have conceptualised a future-facing mixed reality wearable. A lens that can be customised based on preferences, requirements, and style by switching the technology out from frame to frame. Combining technology with fashion, Issé provides a solution for how we might adapt a face-worn wearable to our needs whether we are trail running or out lunching in the city.
Whilst there is a potential for infinite frame designs, two have been visualised. One, a lightweight metallic frame, with a bold neon stripe. The other, a softer, more organic form. The lens can be pushed out of the frame, like a smartphone from its case, allowing a user to swap from one to the other with ease.
In terms of what the wearer sees, we see this as an opportunity for less data and more creativity. Bringing in the idea of gamification, imagine running through a sci-fi scene, a series of ‘portals’ seemingly projected into the world in front of you as you chase down your digital twin. Whilst it’s sophisticated data that is driving the back-end, that doesn’t mean data overload for the user. In-fact, quite the opposite. Keeping the visuals to a minimum reserves battery life, allowing for a lighter-weight lens, although we propose that a power cable could be attached to the arm of the frame if required. Sound would be transmitted via bone-conduction in the arms of the frame.
Whilst we will be mining old e-waste to recover precious metals, a decade on from now, resources will be even more scarce and reusing and recapturing tech will be vital. The Issé lens can be swapped from frame to frame, suiting different users, enabling upgrades if new sensors become available and making disassembly easier.
With 95% of the electronics in the lens itself, the frame remains low-tech and its shorter life-span makes it possible to manufacture from bio-materials that can break down or be digested by bacteria, enabling any embedded wires or sensors to be recaptured. Enhancing our surroundings with the aid of mixed reality wearables such as Issé has the potential to nudge us into making better choices for our health and wellbeing as well as the world around us, but this should never be at the expense of the planet.
“The beauty of Issé is that it is a platform for play and creativity. Whether it’s a collaboration with a fashion brand on the frame design, or an artist for the mixed reality world, we see the future of tech as less about data and more about expression. With developments in machine learning and generative AI, sophisticated data can be turned into beautiful user interfaces, removing information overload and focusing more on experience”.
- Jo Barnard, founder, Morrama