Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Google Glasses

Google's "Project Glass" Not Yet Clear

The date was so close to April 1st (April Fools Day in the USA) when the news broke that some thought that this was a joke. But it's not. There has been industry buzz on and off for quite some time about this. We now know that Google Project Glass is intended to (eventually) deliver augmented reality glasses with voice command capabilities and visual overlays. There are photos of Google co-founder Sergey Brinn wearing a prototype. Mainstream media including the New York Times and the Washington Post are covering the story, and describing uses such as video chat and location services.

In high-tech circles we've been talking about augmented reality glasses for well over a decade and we've all seen the heads-up overlays in Sci-Fi movies, so as a concept this seems familiar. But a practical, light-weight, wearable gadget integrated with a range of Google applications (gmail, Google Maps, Google+ Hangouts, etc.) could be very interesting. At first it might be mostly a novelty. We see a photo of our friend's face while we talk on the phone or read their email. We see a map of the area we're in and get directions by looking up and to the right. But control through voice commands might be cumbersome, and a touch interface on the glasses or wired to the wrist might be clunky.

Eventually, though, the interfaces could smooth out (even before the inevitable Google Brain Interface is fully ready), and the application set could evolve and become more advanced. Augmented reality coupled with enough information might be magical. With facial recognition software and a populated address book, we can "remember" the names and details of acquaintances when we see them (see also my blog post, The Rest Of My Brain). With online databases, location services, and pattern recognition we can know the architect of every building we see and the artist behind every sculpture we encounter. Sometimes we'll be able to see through walls, such as when information and images regarding the opposite side is available.

If Google makes a version intended to work only with Google applications, and Apple and others make their own versions intended to work only with their services, this space could be disappointing. What would be best is wearable hardware (with choices from multiple sources) with the flexibility to access a broad range of services from a variety of service providers. Let's hope it plays out that way.

Does Google Project Glass sound interesting?

Follow Google Project Glass on Google+, and leave a comment on this blog post to say whether you'd wear these glasses, why, and what new functionality you hope they enable.


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