We have all seen the videos, and I am willing to bet that most of us have experienced the schadenfreude of seeing people, with their faces buried in their phones and tablets, stepping into potholes, falling into fountains, and some far more tragic events. All of these happened because users (read screen addicts) simply become lost in their displays and basically tune out the surrounding environment, to the determent of themselves and all the people around them. In fact, The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. If that isn’t bad enough, Reader’s Digest, in an article by Lauren Cahn, reports that using devices while walking caused some 11,000 injuries of the period of a few years, with over 5,300 resulting in death!
Enter the HeadsUpUX solution. Truth be told, most of us have already been exposed to various types of heads up displays, in the form of technology built for airplanes, higher end cars, motorcycle helmets and even (believe it or not) in the helmets of skiers and other high velocity sports. Forward-looking heads-up display technology has been around for several decades and has a proven track record for improving safety by keeping users engaged in both the information that want or need and the real-world environment in which they are operating.
With the rapid evolution and miniaturization of technology, it is past time to bring this technology to the everyday user. Devices such as the failed Google Glass, or Microsoft’s Hololens are great early examples of the technology, but the implementation and power of the devices was somewhat lacking. But both technologies are over 5 years old and the power of our processors has more then doubled of that time. New devices coming into the market from Vuzix, ThirdEye and even the recently announced Hololens 2 are bringing unprecedented power to heads up displays, allowing for a wider variety of applications. The best part for most users is that prices are falling fast. Though still an expensive piece of technology for most people, price points, power, applications and public acceptance of such devices are all growing. Thus, begins the next phase of the Augmented Reality revolution. Wait!!! What? Yep! Heads Up display are the very essence of AR. No longer just for games, we are talking about powerful use cases for these emergent technologies AND a safer way to engage in the digital and real worlds simultaneously, all wrapped up in a technology many are already using… but with a new eye to the power users of tomorrow.
So what’s next? That is a question we ask our selves every day here at nuMedia Innovations. Interestingly, we are beginning to see new positions being put in place by companies looking to capitalize on this new technology, and we are even witnessing the creation of the CXO (Chief Experience Officer) role at major companies. Are there “experts” yet? Sure, but they are few and far between, but as we see the technology mature and more and more users come on board, the development of expertise will certainly follow. Now is the time to begin considering how to leverage the use of these powerful new displays and interfaces and begin developing smarter safer ways to get people’s heads up, eye forward and looking toward the future.