Since the concept preview of Project Glass was released last week it has been the talk of the tech-town.
If you don’t know what I’m referring to, Google has unveiled a prototype that if successful, could change the way we view life – through augmented reality glasses.
A short video takes the POV of a person wearing the glasses. He uses voice activation, snaps photos, checks the weather, gets directions, replies to messages and takes a video call. The futuristic device uses a small screen to transmit information, an eye-tracking mechanism to interact with data and spoken commands to control the interface.
Data connection, motion sensors and GPS all seem to be part of the product. It may leverage a smart phone’s Wi-Fi connection to provide access to storage (for photos) and the cloud. The glasses appear to be built with Android, with similar functions to Android smart phone and tablets integrated with Google services (funny that).
The preview was intended as a sneak-peak to highlight the most useful features of the device which is still in its prototype stage. Analysts expect the wide-scale release of the glasses will take place later in the year. Google is hungry for feedback, which is hardly surprising given the tech giant cut its teeth on data-centric tools, rather than designing devices.
Wearable technology such as the Google glasses is already stirring debate in the tech world. Two schools of thought are emerging split between the futurist enthusiasts and the resistant naysayers.
The question is, will such devices that layer digital information over real life augment or diminish reality?
The Enthusiasts say:
• It’s like all my Star Trek/ Minority Report / Terminator / [insert B-grade Sci-Fi film]-dreams come true.
• I hate the inconvenience of having to scrounge around handbags or pockets to snap a picture or check a map.
• It’s the next logical step in the mobilisation of devices. It will progress and improve the augmented reality that already exists via the likes of applications such as Yelp.
• I won’t have to interact with devices any more. Navigation will be easier than ever. This will enhance my life, as I can concentrate on the important stuff.
• Imagine the possibilities, like how this could transform lessons or instructional videos.
• This is a game changer, I’ll be able to share my world whenever I would like.
• Further along in product development, they will create killer apps, features and functions, purposely designed for the glasses and perfectly suited for the task.
• I can catch up on everything that I need to as I am walking to work, rather than trying to hold a phone while crossing the road.
• We all interact so much with Google products anyway, why not take it to the next level?
• If they get the details right and allow customisation of features, we can have a tool that works for us, right in front us at all times.
• If they improve the stylishness of the design – a la Apple – or make it more invisible it’ll look better. The potential for customisation will be huge. Think how cool Gaga glasses will be!
The Naysayers say:
• I don’t want any more data collected about me than it already is – this is the beginning of the Big Brother dystopia envisaged by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
• It is too much. I don’t want such a pervasive technology. I can think for myself.
• Constant pop-ups are annoying enough let alone (literally) in my face. I don’t want people just popping up – I need some ability to ‘screen’ who I talk with and when.
• I am already overloaded with notifications but at least with smart phones I can choose when to ignore it.
• It looks ridiculous, the design is meant to be inoffensive but it looks dorky even on the models.
• I’d rather use my phone than look like a crazy person walking around muttering commands – voice activation rarely work well for me.
• I am not up for the inevitable ‘ads in your eyeballs’ that will follow. Advertisers will be licking their lips at the new level of targeted promotion available based on location and all sorts of other saved data.
An amusing Naysayer argument was posted by Tom Scott, it parodies banging into people and the pitfalls of learning to use such a device. And you thought pressing the wrong button was bad?
Whatever your opinion, if Google can get the technology up and running properly, people will want to try it and other brands will try to get a piece of the action by creating their own.
As desired, Project Glass has no doubt got plenty of feedback from this crowdsourcing exercise; now let’s see what they do with it.