Future Friday: Augmented Astronomy with Smart Glasses

Master the universe...with your glasses?

At Vuzix®, we pride ourselves on bringing a popular feature of 20th century sci-fi films to life. Augmented reality (AR) was once the exclusive property of the Starship Enterprise. Today, that technology helps businesses operate more efficiently at a fraction of the cost.

It should come as no surprise that many of our childhoods were spent imagining galaxies far, far away and imagineering technologies that were once thought impossible. The work of directors like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Ridley Scott captured our fantasies on film. In a way, the space fictions they told were roadmaps that helped us become the innovators we are today.

READ: How Smart Glasses could make life on Mars way, way easier

Sci-fi films raised a generation of creative thinkers, inspiring us to look up at the stars and wonder at what awaited us amongst the cosmos. The impact of these works of art can still be felt today, as a new generation of dreamers looks to the night sky on clear nights.

Following in the footsteps of Galileo, professional, hobbyist and aspiring astronomers are finding new star systems, galaxies, quasars and more. Telescopes are more powerful than ever and the digital era has given us a new tool to understand the cosmos, as countless stargazing apps help us map the Milky Way and beyond.

Technology has made astronomy more accessible than ever - and it’s not done.

Could Smart Glasses make astronomers of us all?

What if your Smart Glasses moonlighted as an astronomical tour guide on clear nights, digitally outlining constellations and distant galaxies?
Credit: Digital Photography School

How Smart Glasses could teach you about the cosmos

Phones, tablets, and desktops make accessing info on any subject a breeze. Everything is just a Google search away. Yet, there is a glaring problem facing these technologies.

We must pull our attention away from activities to use them. While voice technology is changing this, taking your eyes off the road to confirm that next turn isn’t ideal. Although incalculably useful, a smartphone’s user experience isn’t seamless. Even the most popular stargazing apps require users to awkwardly hold up their devices to the sky to find out what constellation they’re looking at.

Enter, Smart Glasses. Here’s how wearable display tech could improve nights in the countryside:

Seamless stargazing:

Instead of holding up your smartphone or tablet to the sky, simply tilt your head up. On clear nights, your lenses could automatically detect constellations. Digital info could be placed over Orion’s Belt or Ursa Major. Names and lines would remain in place as you inspect different parts of the sky.

Hands-free heavens:

Smart Glasses could be controlled with your voice - a feature already available on the Vuzix Blade. Can’t find Lyra amongst the stars? Simply ask your virtual assistant to locate the constellation and it’ll be highlighted for your viewing pleasure.

Picture perfect:

Light pollution forces astronomers to escape the city to take in the cosmos. To save these rare moments, users could use voice commands to snap pictures of clear nights. The implications for professional and amateur photographers would be substantial, reducing the setup required to capture glimpses of the night sky.

Augmented astronomy:

Just like Tony Stark building his Iron Man suit, those curious about the observable universe could educate themselves - and others - as if they were playing a video game. They could even highlight points-of-interest using animation software. Users could instantly summon info on anything that catches their eye - from planetary information to whether or not that twinkling star has already burnt out.

Smartphone and tablet apps like Star Chart map out the night sky for stargazers. Smart Glasses could make the experience more seamless.
Image credit: Star Mapping

Education through wearable display tech

By harnessing AR, Smart Glasses could turn anyone into Isaac Newton. Especially in the 2020 quarantine, the desire to find new hobbies has become a need. For mental health reasons, the act of digitally charting the night sky could double as a therapeutic activity. It would make a free activity even more accessible.

These benefits could easily be extended to the classroom. Particularly in the learn-from-home era, Smart Glasses could ensure we don’t leave future astronomers behind. They could serve as another tool educators could use to inspire young learners.

How augmented astronomy could revitalize the classroom:

See what your teacher sees:

Eliminating the learning barrier of being stuck at home, teachers could make their way to an open plain on clear nights. Broadcasting their view through their Smart Glasses camera, students could see their teacher’s first-person point-of-view. This could make field trips infinitely more engaging, as educators could provide real-time direction while observing a student’s view.

Animated learning:

Teachers would be able to mark-up screenshots using animation software. Just like photos taken with your smartphone, science teachers could circle specific constellations or point out where the Andromeda galaxy is using a student’s picture. This would make lessons more engaging and help kids keep pace with packed curriculums.

Cosmo tests:

Assessing a learner’s grasp of the material would be much more intuitive, as teachers could have students identify star systems using their own pictures. While learning could be done using Smart Glasses with digital info overlaid against the night sky, mapping features would be turned off for tests. This would ensure students don’t rely too heavily on their AR learning tool.

Share and compare:

As is the case with everything, competition could be used to encourage high performance. During a test in which students are required to circle and identify as many constellations as possible, a real-time scoreboard could broadcast in the corner of their eye. Learning could be gamified, applying the same logic that makes games like Fortnite so popular among Gen Z.

The world – digitally mapped

It’s possible the astronomers of tomorrow could simply look at the night sky and use their voice to note irregularities and undiscovered stars. Such an ability would give pretty much anyone the power to take in the next sky like a seasoned astronomer.

While Smart Glasses could become the world’s favorite cosmological teaching tool of tomorrow, they could also help us colonize the galaxy. Offering us hands-free access to the endless benefits offered by digital tech, they have the potential to turn us into supercomputers. Through augmented reality, we could become augmented humans.

Today, a large number of businesses are integrating Smart Glasses into their operations. From warehouses to operating tables, Vuzix products automate processes, cut down on man power and enable hands-free audio and video communication.

Soon, consumers are expected to embrace the technology. Just as desktop computers gave way to laptops and smartphones, Smart Glasses are the next logical step in digital communication tech.

As a result, they’re destined to help humanity navigate the 2020s and beyond:

A Disclaimer Note from the Author: On Fridays we often let our imagination run wild at Vuzix. With our ‘Future Friday’ segment, we explore the endless possibilities offered by smart glasses. We encourage you to provide your feedback as your input will help us make these dreams a reality.
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