The Future: Driverless Cars, Smart Eye Glasses
This issue, we feature two cool tech projects that, when they come to the market, could change the look of the world... well, sort of!
Smart eye glasses
Imagine having information about anything that you are seeing at your fingertips. For example, say you are walking around at the Colosseum in Rome. And everything you wanted to know about it – who built what and when and why shows up in the corner of your eye! Wouldn’t it be cool?
Well, phone-maker NTT Docomo and imaging company Olympus have together showcased “smart eye glasses,” called the AR Walker, which will make that happen. AR stands for “augmented (or improved) reality” and it weighs a mere 20 grams.
So how does it work? The glasses have direction and speed sensors so that they can tell roughly where you are looking. These glasses are then attached to a smartphone that has software which can figure out relevant information. This is then relayed to a retinal display in the corner of your eye.
When the two companies showcased this in Japan, they took people on a virtual tour of the city of Kyoto. People wearing this eyepiece basically walk normally, looking around. The only difference is, now they can “see” much more than meets the eye! Sure, this is far from being on shelves yet, but looks promising, eh?
If you are expecting the Batmobile, think again. This driverless car is not quite like the cool, sleek, black dream machine - yet! It is a fleet of six souped-up Toyota Priuses and one Audi-TT. And how does it drive itself, you might wonder?
Well, it has a system that mixes the Google Street View information with artificial intelligence software - this is when a machine can take information from around it and make sense of it to maximize its success. Information comes in from a video camera in the car, a laser sensor on the top of the car, a radar sensor in the front of the car and position sensors on one of the rear wheels!
All of these sensors send data to a computer that helps it make decisions within a fraction of a second. And then the computer guides the car through the traffic that it “sees” or “senses.”
Google says the point of this car is basically to reduce traffic jams and accidents in the future. It says it has driven these cars over 140,000 miles and is currently test-driving them on California roads, across the Golden Gate Bridge and tricky street intersections. Since it is still early in development, a trained driver sits behind the wheel (doing nothing as long as things are ok). An expert on the software system also rides in the car, both ready to jump in and take over in case the computer makes an error.