No longer will starry-eyed optimists have to look at the world through rose-coloured glasses, now that Google has unveiled its first foray into the realm of wearable technology, augmented reality (AR) eyewear. Following months of leaks and speculation, and looking like something straight out of Star Trek, Google released a prototype video (click here to view), showing a brief glimpse into what such wearable technology might enable you to do.
Dubbed Project Glass, the prototype, as expected, is essentially a wearable heads-up-display (HUD), designed to be as unobtrusive as a regular pair of glasses but as helpful as a smartphone. The goal for the project, according to Google, is to make technology both ubiquitous and accessible, envisioning a future where information is there when you want it, and out of the way when you don’t.
There’s no question that many will scoff at such a notion, with videos already going viral exploring the hilarious ramifications of walking down the street with your vision partially obscured by an important text message; but as I’ve said before, if science fiction has taught us anything its that wearable technology will eventually become an integral part of our existence, unassuming personal gadgets that range from glasses to shoes…and everything in between. Google’s Project Glass is merely the first step.
While certainly Google’s first real attempt at wearable technology and smart glasses, its not the company’s first attempt at augmented reality (AR), having already incorporated the technology designed to augment one’s live view of a physical environment with computer-generated input such as video, graphics, sound, or GPS into Google Maps and various other AR apps.
As the video shows, the glasses basically work as an extension of your smartphone, offering the user ubiquitous and hands-free access to many of the same useful tidbits of information our phone shares with us today, the only real difference is the relevant information will be literally right in front of your face when you need it.
While seemingly just an extension of the existing delivery system for our current mobile technology, Project Glass, as ambitious real world applications go, is nevertheless a first, apparently incorporating features from Google Maps and Google’s geolocation services with a Siri-like Android voice response system, all on top of the basic design of the glasses to act as a hands-free, in-your-face accessory to your smartphone.
It is exactly that last point, the in-your-face nature of Project Glass, that has many sceptics wondering if the project will ever really get off the ground. In one video mocking the potential downsides of this technology, the wearer is shown awkwardly moving through his physical environment, partially blinded by the myriad of items popping up on his display.
But if you think that Google might be embarrased about such mockery, think again, as the weaknesses of the device are just the sort of thing Google wants to figure out before mass producing Project Glass, explaining that it has released its prototype video now “because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input.”
While I am certainly one of those skeptical about the popularity of such technology in the short term, there’s no question in my mind that Google is on the right track and that one day technology will indeed be fully and seamlessly integrated into our existence.