Oakley May Give Good Reason to Wear Hipster Glasses and Tighten a Divide Between Cultures

It’s become increasingly popular for desperate startup founders to bomb stages at Canadian technology events in order to get attention. I can think of at least four examples of when that has happened and, yes, they were all hipsters.

It’s also become increasingly popular to commit social suicide by wearing a shirt with a large QR Code on it. One can also certainly alienate themselves from the rest of the world by wearing those fake, non-prescription, thick-rimmed black glasses.

If I wear a suit jacket with an un-tucked dress shirt, a hipster will likely not talk to me. Must I go undercover and alienate my traditional cultural base?

And that’s just precisely the problem with Google’s trending foray into the world of augmented reality glasses—just as it is socially unacceptable to bomb stages, it’s hard to see when certain types of glasses will become socially acceptable to wear. There are rising sci-fi conference attendees every year in Toronto where people dress up as Lieutenant Data from Star Trek, for example, while hipster populations continue to rise in the city and in places like Boston and New York.

Yet, hipsters and more traditional people are increasingly socially apart in the newsroom. In fact, the Pew 2012 State of The News Media Report blamed “cultural inertia” for an industry-wide inability to seize new revenue opportunities. We’re seeing many journalists sport the hipster glasses on television as well to signal they are part of the black-rimmed culture despite the fact the media company they work for may indeed be doomed financially.

These are just some of the potential reasons why Oakley has come out in saying that they have over 600 patents related towards smart glasses. Wearing Oakley, Ray-Ban, or party sunglasses is pretty cool to most people—as long as the sun is shining or the house music is playing—and I don’t think that has changed much.

The Telegraph’s award-winning Digital Media Editor Emma Barnett is struggling with it though: “Wearable technology, which so far has mainly consisted of fitness monitors and 3D glasses, rarely makes actions seem smoother or easier. If anything, it always feels retro. Still having to physically put on glasses to view three-dimensional content seems cumbersome and positively last century.”

Even a cultural newspaper headline in Brisbane read last December: “Hipsters are so last decade,” and pointed to James Franco and his aviators as being the “cool” of today. That’s why any attempt to blend technology with glasses could cater to all demographics especially with a major alternative glasses manufacturer like Oakley involved.

Hipsters would finally have a better use for their non-prescription glasses, and regular glasses and sunglasses would be available with the smart tech embedded.

After all, transitions just aren’t cool enough for either crowd, and one would need clear non-prescription glasses when the sun is shining if you would ever want to have smart glasses at all times. That doesn’t mean those types of glasses would have to be thick and black-rimmed though. They could, however, become as common as Bluetooth is today.

Oakley CEO Colin Baden said to Bloomberg: “As an organization, we’ve been chasing this beast since 1997. …Ultimately, everything happens through your eyes, and the closer we can bring it to your eyes, the quicker the consumer is going to adopt the platform.”

The technology would most likely integrate smart glasses with the devices we most commonly carry around like smartphones but could also replace the need to carry one around, theoretically speaking if one were to attach connected wireless bluetooth devices to the glasses. Perhaps the biggest concern is the distortion of reality with an impending number of features including GPS—would wearing smart glasses lead to more pedestrian and traffic accidents?

But maybe those hipster glasses are already causing a distortion of reality; pedestrian and traffic accidents are certainly occurring in a larger number of ways than in years past. However, that distortion of reality may be something people might have to increasingly accept as more and more people use photo-sharing services like Instagram and Flixel to distort the reality of original photos.

Regardless, Oakley has a chance here to do something great—to narrow that cultural gap so that the traditional news media and companies alike can indeed blend the traditional culture with the digital hipster one.

Then we as a society couldn’t stereotype and label as much. This is the new racism folks, and I love that Oakley’s taking steps to inadvertently address a growing cultural divide somewhat caused by technology.