Google Glass is coming

The possibly game-changing, definitely dorky technology is nearly ready for prime time, writes Jesse Brown

Today Google turned the heat up on a long simmering project. Google Glass, the possibly game-changing, definitely dorky wearable computer, is looking just about ready for prime-time. Google has begun engaging developers, who have been sworn to secrecy, in hack-a-thons to pump out Glass apps.

Here is today’s promo video, shot entirely through Google Glass glasses:

Yes, it’s another Apple-esque inspirational tear-jerking montage. But what does it actually tell us about the device and its uses?

  • Glass seems like it’ll enable a decent first go at augmented reality: the much-hyped but little-realized technology that layers digital information on top of what our eyeballs perceive. Assuming that Google is showing off its best stuff here, it looks like augmented reality will mostly consist of GPS navigation apps, to start.  
  • Real-time video streaming is pushed hard in the video. This is both nothing new and very cool. On the one hand, we can already stream videos from our phones to remote viewers. But putting this function into a pair of glasses lets us literally show others the world through our eyes. Whether it’s used to vicariously experience fencing, skydiving, or a party for grandma held in another country, this seems like a very special app. Head trip alert: while you’re beaming what you see to a remote viewer’s eyeballs, they’re webcamming their reactions into the top corner of your Google Glass display.  You’re not watching them watching you, you’re watching them watching as you. Trippy!
  • Existing voice-commanded Google/Android apps seem ported over. “Google Goggles” has been a Labs app for years now.  With varying results, it did things like take a picture you just shot of a menu in Japanese and instantly translate it. On Glass, this gets a bit more exciting, especially when combined with instant voice translation. I’d like to see a field test before setting off abroad with it, though.

Critics are already asking what the big deal is with Google Glass. What can it do that smartphones can’t? I don’t share this cynicism. If Google Glass does nothing but put a smartphones’ functionality into our sightlines, it will be an ergonomic triumph. I’d like to think that if good design can do nothing else, it can liberate us from staring at our palms every two minutes.

Google has yet to set a release date for Glass, but if you tell them why you’re super special and really, really deserve to get one first, they just might let you and 7,999 other lucky souls buy one soon for $1,500. Applications are being taken here.

Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown




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Google Glass is coming

  1. And now it’s Geordi’s time ……….!

    Love it

  2. You failed to mention that applications are limited to US residents, which had me very very disappointed.

    • if google starts pulling that im so off this band wagon

  3. Robocop accountability. Officers r plugged in to live data while recording evidence.

    • More likely the cop will look away as he kicks the crap out of someone… cops are expert at avoiding accountability and abusing power.

  4. My life is pretty drab. I can’t wait to buy these Google Glasses and start having these breath-taking, life-affirming experiences!!!

    • First you have to get to the point where you can afford to drop 1500 on what is essentially a stylish toy.

      And if you get there, odds are you’ll already be having some of these experiences.. because you can afford the time and resources they cost.

      • You miss the point. Phones are evolving. The importance of this is not whether you are an earlier adopter, but where it’s going. My guess: goggles is just the beginning. We need to leave behind the little boxes. Whether in the end it’s an implant or something woven into our clothing or who knows what, and whether our human interface with is based on tapping a table or using public screens or who knows what, this is pretty interesting.

  5. Here’s an interesting thought. With voice-rec and sight-line smartphone technology, you’d be able to text while driving, which would be even safer than a handsfree phone, as you could ignore the message when you need to, but it wouldn’t interfere when you have a second.

    Hah..and if I’d watched the video first, I would have seen they’ve already got that in there.

    However, another thought that occurred to me while watching it is how amazing this would be to help train people to perform delicate or intricate tasks, as you could see exactly what the professional does from their own viewpoint.

    With everything in the top corner though.. it’s really not fully augmented reality, so it can’t do that thing we see in movies all the time where it squares in on somebody’s face and pops up details about them as you walk through a crowd.

    • Using mobile devices while driving seems to be inherently unsafe. Hands-free devices have not been shown to be less distracting. The evidence seems to suggest that there is no difference.

      • Except there hasn’t been hands-free texting before.
        I can understand hands-free phones being distracting because the person on the other end isn’t aware of what traffic situation you’re dealing with, unlike a passenger you’re conversing with. So the immediacy of a handsfree phone can lead to distraction when it’s dangerous.

        Texting, because of it’s asynchronous nature, can take a back seat to the driving requirements.

        • I’ll bet it will be legal, though I expect it to still be distracting.

          The better solution is to take the human out of the loop when it comes to driving, which Google is also working on, coincidentally.

  6. It is one kind of artificial intelligent work from Google. In video, it is an life threatening experience as it conveys awesome feelings by wearing Google glass.

  7. My life is pretty drab. I can’t wait to buy these Google Glasses and start having these breath-taking, life-affirming experiences!!!

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