Hearing the World with Augmented Reality
October 2, 2020
Visual wearables are the most well-known type of this growing technology, most notably for the flop that was Google Glass. But, hearables are taking over as the hot new trend in augmented reality.
From real-time navigation to responsive voice-enabled search features, in-ear devices are small, discreet, and easy to bring with you everywhere you go.
Read on to learn how auditory wearable tech has grown within the AR sphere, and why experts expect that this technology is here to stay.
Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality has long used audio and visual elements to transport users to a completely manufactured digital world. Augmented reality, on the other hand, combines digital elements with the user’s real-world view.
When it comes to the future of AR-enabled hearables, this distinction is important to understand because both technologies provide entirely different experiences for the user.
As a result of the changes caused by COVID-19, much of the American workforce will be working from home for the foreseeable future. This has created a growing demand for smart hearables, which give remote workers additional flexibility.
Common uses for smart aural wearables include:
- Hands-free calling
- Voice-activated web searching
- Noise cancellation
- Improved multitasking
More advanced models are adapting their technology to act as a secondary “set of ears” for the wearer, from automatic Google searches to real-time language translation.
Using hearables as a pathway for augmented reality tech creates an extra layer of insight into the information the wearer is already taking in. AI and interconnectivity with the internet of things gives users an unprecedented level of access, without the need for auxiliary equipment.
Uses for Augmented Reality
One of the most critical components of a successful augmented reality system is seamless interconnectivity. Excessive lag time or lack of compatibility between practical and digital objects can make the AR experience clunky and impossible to navigate.
To ensure a fluid connection between the digital and real worlds, augmented reality-enabled wearables use one of two methods to distribute information.
Did you know that advertisers often collect location information to create tailored experiences for different users? Using this feature, wearables provide brands with the perfect way to build individualized ad campaigns that users will enjoy and, as a result, engage with more.
Everything from radio commercials to social media ads use demographic information to appeal to a specific audience. Since more and more consumers are preferring interactive media like music, audiobooks, podcasts, and video, in-ear devices provide the perfect platform for location-specific content.
We’re spending more time than ever before on digital communication. As augmented reality gains more traction in the mainstream market, brands are already starting to capitalize on this segmentation tool.
Absorbing audio information from the outside environment makes it possible for these devices to recognize, and subsequently, translate spoken language in real time. But, this is not the only use case for in-ear smart devices.
Wearable audio devices are also used to aid computers in collecting and processing phonetic speech. Siphoning sounds present in spoken language allows artificial intelligence to build its digital knowledge base and “learn” about user behaviors.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has quashed many of our travel plans this year. But, what if you could visit a world-famous art museum from your couch?
Using immersive media via augmented reality, this technology is being applied for virtual entertainment. Similar to visual AR methods, hearable in-ear devices allow the reader to experience media with even more depth and engagement.
Augmented reality allows these devices to incorporate auditory assisting in real time, such as supplementary information and synced music, using tools like:
- Geo-location tracking
- Activity monitoring/idle timekeeping
- Device interconnectivity
Wearables are growing in popularity as people look for more innovative ways to simplify their routines. Augmented reality provides an effective solution by following the user throughout their day, acting as a digital fly on the wall.
While standard mobile assistants can provide some level of support, in-ear wearables keep the user connected 24/7, no matter their physical location.
Improved Accessibility for Mobile Users
Being able to layer digital audio elements over sounds that are being transmitted in real time makes mobile computing even more accessible for various users. This capability allows the individual to maintain a high level of control over this aspect of their sensory response.
With augmented reality powering internet-enabled devices, the user can adjust the amount of external noise they’d like to take in. Additionally, they can control the sound levels of their AI assistant, incoming calls, background music, and more.
For those who are especially sensitive to sensory overload, the incorproate of smart technology into hearable devices addresses a common and widespread gap in the market.
Mobile Device Compatibility and the Internet of Things
Thanks to the IoT, mobile device users across all platforms, brands, and industries can keep their digital lives connected and running smoothly. This has made it easier than ever for wearable developers to tap into an exponentially growing consumer market.
Hearing aids, for example, can the Internet of Things to improve the user’s safety by providing round-the-clock monitoring. If the device picks up interruptions in the user’s heart rate, breathing, it can use this data to make “informed” decisions about the person’s health.
Audible devices use sensors, voice commands, contextual information, and auxiliary digital content to create a functional digital world that is accessible from anywhere, at any time. Instead of fully immersive VR programs that require reality-altering glasses or headsets, in-ear devices can apply augmented reality features over external noise and speech.
From measuring interactions to new medications to notifying emergency services about a fall or accident, interconnected wearable technology has the potential to make the world safer and more secure for all individuals.
Practical Real-World Uses
Safety is one of the primary catalysts to the development of this revolutionary system of technology. By reducing distractions and providing information seamlessly with the user’s day to day life.
Interacting with real information in real time helps IoT-enabled devices to “learn” about the world through the ears of the user.
Construction workers, for example, can apply this technology to stay alert and on task with in-ear alerts and hands-free notifications. This same functionality can keep workers safe by predicting dangerous situations and making the user aware of dangers like nearby ledges, heavy loads, and even personal injury from over exertion.
With cloud-based connectivity and inter-device compatibility, in-ear tech can also utilize biometric data to keep the user safe and secure.
Power and Utilities Support
How are utility providers using the same technology that Snapchat uses to put freckles on its users? Turns out, auditory and visual components in the AR sphere have a significant amount of overlap. Power companies are using this development to improve their services.
By siphoning user data related to their individual behaviors throughout the day, utility companies can use hearable tech to understand the behavior of their customers.
Using this information, providers can create individualized service plans for both parties to save money and energy in the process.
When it comes to task automation, in-ear tech is also helping companies save money by reducing project redundancies and improving efficiency on part of the technicians. Thanks to total hands-free access, in-ear devices make multitasking safer and more effective.
Biometric Connectivity for Health Applications
Many of us already have biometric features in our smartphones, but hearables are taking this accessibility up a notch. Using biometric information such as movement, heart rate, and breathing patterns, AI-connected in-ear devices can learn about our individual habits to provide tailored, individualized health solutions.
These futuristic devices are more intuitive than your standard heart rate monitor. Some manufacturers are already using photoplethysmography, which measures small changes in light reflectivity to gauge the wearer’s pulse and blood pressure.
This development is also making wearable technology more comfortable by eliminating the need for additional equipment like wristbands and bulky sensors.
Wearable technology is quickly becoming a wardrobe staple for just about everyone, for a variety of reasons from health to productivity. In-ear tech has the potential to completely change the way we live by reducing external distractions, improving sensory intake, and simplifying daily processes safely.
With wearable technology becoming more mainstream and accessible than ever before, staying tapped into the web all day long is becoming a growing facet of daily life. Consumers are relying on augmented reality images and media to enhance and improve their day-to-day routines, and wearables are leading this dynamic market.
If you’re looking for a way to give your multitasking skills a boost, these are just a few reasons why augmented reality is making waves within the auditory wearable industry.