Almost Google Glass In 1993

You might think Google Glass was an innovative idea, but [Allison Marsh] points out that artist [Lisa Krohn] imagined the Cyberdesk in 1993. Despite having desk in the name, the imagined prototype was really a wearable computer. Of course, in 1993, the technology wasn’t there to actually build it, but it does look like [Krohn] predicted headgear that would augment your experience.

Unlike Google Glass, the Cyberdesk was worn like a necklace. There are five disk-like parts that form a four-key keyboard and something akin to a trackpad. There were two models built, but since they were nonfunctional, they could have any imagined feature you might like. For example, the system was supposed to draw power from the sun and your body, something practical devices today don’t really do, either.

She also imagined a wrist-mounted computer with satellite navigation, a phone, and more. Then again, so did [Chester Gould] when he created Dick Tracy. The post also talks about a more modern reimagining of the Cyberdesk last year.

While this wasn’t a practical device, it is a great example of how people imagine the future. Sometimes, they miss the mark, but even then, speculative art and fiction can serve as goals for scientists and engineers who build the actual devices of the future.

We usually think about machines augmenting our intelligence and senses, but maybe we should consider more physical augmentation. We do appreciate seeing designs that are both artistic and functional.

15 thoughts on “Almost Google Glass In 1993

    1. Came to mention the same as he had working models and experiments with many different use cases. Also there was Ivan Sutherland in the 60s and of course the episode “The Game” in Star Trek TNG of which just added to the ideas. Its nice to see different renditions in the art realm as there are many entangled ideas that will or not make the cut to final product or functional for a group of people or experimenters.

    2. Fascinating prototype. “Mann” translates to “man” in German, btw. :)
      But please let me get things straight here: A feminist artist comes up with a fancy but non-functional design study in 1993,
      while a man had developed an “ugly” (chunky) yet functional prototype about then years before in 1984?
      In 1984! – the very release year of the first Macintosh and the year in which the book novel “1984” takes place in.
      That’s all somewhat unreal, I think. It’s a bit like out of a fever dream, maybe.

      1. That was real in 1984. A lot of miniaturized parts that could be used for wearable displays were available, e.g. ½” CRTs and vidicons of similar size for camcorders, which soon after became cheap mass products. The missing component was portable and affordable computing power to do anything useful, for augmented reality it would have been at least the size of a wheelbarrow and another one for the batteries.

      2. I am not entirely sure what you are trying to imply there.

        Perhaps you are saying that if women had equal access education, research budget, etc., that we could have had a much better version, i.e. less ugly, less chunky and more functional version in 1984?

        1. I guess he wants to complain about our politically correct, emancipated and all-inclusive times where also history has to be politically correct, emancipated and all-inclusive lest the author will be stoned by a politically correct, emancipated and all-inclusive minority who think they are politically correct, emancipated and all-inclusive but in fact are the exact opposite. Things have gone out of bounds in German speaking countries in the past years…

    3. I was once on a visit to see the facilities at the US Army stores at Burtonwood in the UK. After the visit a bunch of us were in the bar afterwards and one of the officers got talking and told us about a prototype the Army had of a system that could ‘project images into the eye using lasers’. This was in the late 80s (probably ’88 or ’89).

      I have no idea if this was just banter to excite the young and wide-eyes visitors (probably), or an actual device that was in development.

      1. Hm, maybe it was true. The film “Blue Thunder” was from 1983, for example, and its intro said that the advanced technology being portrayed in the film was realistic. Or so I remember. Go figure. 🤷‍♂️

    1. Patents. It’s all about parents. They’re a tool or weapon to make money.

      The real-world purpose of patents is to sue another company and keep it busy in curt.
      The process of keeping it busy takes so long until its products are no longer being worth anything on the market.

      Btw, the yellow 1993 eye piece looks a lot like the type of device that Vegeta and other Sayans in Dragonball series had used. It’s called a “Scouter”.

  1. Wasn’t earlierd than that in StarWars Empire Strikes Back, the Cloud City administrator / Calrissian’s 2nd in command wearing that thing on his ears and back of the skull that could be also a portable computer/interface/whatever connected directly to his brain? I’m sure there are earlier similar ideeas.

    My 2nd topic is: do we really need to “see” the information or could we “know” the information? An example is a sf novel where someone needs to drive in a city and plugs a form of memory storage in an existing receptacle connected to his brain. In that instant, that someone _knew_ the entire street map of the city. He didn’t need to “see” it.

    1. I think that is the private eye used the same display as the virtual boy but higher frame rate as it wasn’t split between two eyes. There used to be a website that focused on the function and art side of wearable tech with lots of history and information but it went down years ago.

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