This column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Savannah Morning News. We welcome a diversity of opinions.
In terms of fictional innovation moguls, Willy Wonka is king. His technology? Revolutionary. His talent acquisition? Irreplicable. His products? Great quality and highly sought after. But where he really excels is hype. Only with a golden ticket and a pure heart — chance and character — did Charlie Bucket end up in the Great Glass Elevator. But he did not enter the chocolate factory with that expectation; when he walked through the doors, he had no idea what lay beyond them, only that whatever it was would change his life.
Now imagine if social media were in the mix. Trade secrets would be leaked on rumor forums. Some of the Oompa Loompas would be entertaining bribes from YouTubers. And the likes of Arthur Slugworth, who sought to reverse engineer the Everlasting Gobstopper, could do so in his villainous Underoos from the comfort of his living room rather than accosting children in alleys.
It is under the latter conditions that modern technology companies operate. In particular, Apple’s overarching goal is to surprise and delight, and creating intrigue while maintaining mystery is a difficult balance.
This week, Jon Prosser of the “Front Page Tech” YouTube channel leaked details about one of Apple’s most covert and anticipated projects: Apple Glass, the company’s first generation of augmented reality (AR) glasses.
AR differs from virtual reality in that the user’s actual environment is enhanced with simulated information. This could include a digital path on the sidewalk leading to a destination, placing digital furniture in your home as a way to try before buying, and, of course, teleconferencing. Long-term, AR could allow us to experience the world in a completely new way — with greater convenience, safety, and utility.
Google’s take on AR, Google Glass, came and went in 2013. Apple Glass is said to differ in key ways: the lenses themselves will display the interface, whereas Google Glass displayed on a pane of glass mounted in front of only one lens, which was strange and distracting for the user and everyone they encountered.
Apple Glass will integrate into the ecosystem in a way that Google Glass was never streamlined into Google’s suite of products, and unlike Google Glass, it will not feature a camera for security reasons.
Most significantly, Apple’s iteration will provide a true, interactive experience of AR rather than merely serve as a transparent, hands-free smartphone.
The official announcement was allegedly set for this fall; however, as pandemic conditions continue to impact conferences that Apple has historically used to generate hype, it may come in spring of 2021… or later.
This abundance of information is in stark contrast to Wonka-level secrecy, and Prosser’s often accurate predictions have not facilitated great favor with the tech giant. However, if timing and attendance of conferences stand to diminish chatter around new products, the leaker’s discourse is doing Apple a favor. Besides, with the doors blown off the chocolate factory and Oompa Loompas working from home, community-induced loyalty and risk aversion are on thin ice; it will be easier than ever for leakers to source inside information.
This loyalty to the company’s vision and mission, not non-disclosure agreements, will be more important than ever outside the controlled environment of big tech headquarters.
You can’t spell COVID without “DO I?” but you can spell it without “NDA.”
Aleshia Howell is a Savannah-based technology entrepreneur. She writes about tech issues.