At this year's SXSW, Panasonic brought its smart home of the future to Austin. The company has kitted out an entire house downtown - kitchen to bedroom - with tech concepts. Nothing in this house is available to buy, and there's a good chance some of it never will be - but the sushi smartglasses just might one day make it out the lab.
Ok, they're not only for making sushi (that was just for the purpose of the demo), but Panasonic's glasses are meant to be exclusively used in the kitchen. They're actually a creation of Game Changer Catapult, a project working under Panasonic's appliances company. They look like a version of Google Glass that wraps around both eyes and, well, that's pretty much how they perform.
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I wasn't allowed to take photos of the working model, which had a bulkier frame than the one you see above, but I did get to try it out for a few minutes. Rather than having an image projected in front of one eye, or into the corner of one, the glasses lay out the images and video across the entirety of your vision. It's like having a pinboard of different things showing at once; in one corner I had a video showing me how to chop up the vegetables, while ingredients were listed on the right.
What really stood out was the clarity. I wasn't straining to look in the corner of my eye, and everything was clear in front of me without having to find a sweet spot (something I've experienced with a lot of AR glasses).
But it's not me that Panasonic is thinking of here. Its idea is to link these glasses to a system called Kronosys that'd be used by restaurants to train staff. Chefs could be given instructions using video and audio, while being able to monitor cooking times, oven temperatures, or even communicate with other employees.
I'm no culinary master - hey, I dabble - but I actually think I'd enjoy using these myself. I hate following cooking instructions on my phone, and even videos get annoying when I'm constantly rewinding section, usually smothering the screen with whatever substance is on my hands at that moment.
But for restaurants, there's a more evident use case. Whether it's enough to turn this into a real product remains to be seen.