Apple iGlass: the augmented reality glasses to kill casual conversation

If the iGlasses concept becomes reality, we all risk being even further divorced from the world around us

If you've ever met somebody who's incredibly famous, amazingly good-looking or both, and you're not incredibly famous, amazingly good-looking or both yourself, then you're probably familiar with The Look.

They're looking at you, and they're smiling, but they're not really looking at you, and the smile hasn't reached their eyes. Their eyes aren't focusing on you; they're scanning the room for somebody with a higher profile, a more impressive bosom or six-pack abs. And it makes you feel insignificant.

Wouldn't it be awful if, thanks to Apple, every look became The Look? Hello, iGlass.

iGlass doesn't exist yet, but Apple's certainly been thinking about it: in US patent number 8212859, "Peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays", it outlines "projecting a source image in a head-mounted display apparatus for a user" to deliver "an enhanced viewing experience" for her or him. Smart specs, in other words.

The patent was granted this year, but what Apple describes dates back to 2006 - so you can be sure it's been improving on the idea.

And while we don't know exactly what Apple's been up to, we do know what its archrival Google is doing with head-mounted displays.

Heads up

Imagine: an Apple version of Google's Project Glass. It would be a display for your head, with notifications that floated above your nose, and icons that floated in front of your eyes. Instead of peering at a screen, you'd peer through one. Horrible.

Don't get me wrong. I don't doubt that if Apple made high-tech specs, they'd be the most beautifully designed high-tech specs imaginable.

My worry isn't the tech, the Big Brother aspect ("Record every moment of your waking life for data mining, police analysis and the future amusement of unspecified third parties? Allow/ Don't Allow") or even the price.

My biggest worry is The Look. For all the benefits, I think sticking a screen in front of our eyes is a step too far in the wrong direction. Look around you when you're next on public transport, or in the pub, or in the park: endless people Tweeting and Facebooking and Song Popping, oblivious to their surroundings.

We're divorced enough from the world already without putting a heads-up display between us and it. It's bad enough trying to keep people's attention when the competition is famous people, and beautiful ones. What chance have we got if we're also up against apps?

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.