Google's Glasses: The Biggest Technology Revolution Since The Laptop?
It's a bold statement, but hear me out;
The launch this week of the Google's Project Glass with a video showing how the technology might work (below) has been circulating the blogosphere in both phrase and uncertainty whether Google can actually deliver on the dream-like functionality it promises.
This technology isn't new, there are a number of startups who have been trying to put the components of hardware, software and Internet connectivity into both contact leses a' La Minority Report style and wearable glasses for a number of years.
A Swiss company called Sensimed has already brought to market a smart contact lens that uses inbuilt computer technology to monitor pressure inside the eye to keep tabs on the eye condition glaucoma and Dutch startup Layar has been adding Augmented Reality to our world through an iPhone and Android app for a few years now.
The services shown in the Google Glasses video are not new either - Checkins, maps, photo, VOIP, Siri (Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface) like features are all services all ready exist and are easily implementable to any device, but what makes the Google Glasses prospect so exciting is that they are real, touchable products and there are prototypes being worn in the flesh. Blogger Robert Scoble blogged yesterday about Google co-founder
No company has yet been able to put all the input and output functionality, software, hardware and connectivity needed for multi-way conversation into such a small piece of hardware like a pair of glasses. Apple came close with the iPhone, but it's not a hands free device.
But the really exciting part is that if Project Glass take off it will fundamentally change the way humans interact with computers forever. It comes down to the physical relationship between technology and humans;
The innovation of the desktop meant we could all sit down for hours at a time at the keyboard (back pain), but restricted us to a certain physical location hence the format of 'going to the office'. Then the laptop came along and allowed for us to become more mobile, choosing between the office, home or anywhere really, but the laptop is still a sit down action bound by a need for a physical location (more back pain). Then the iPhone came along and enabled us to do a high percentage of work on our phones completely mobile, on-the-go but it's still a look down action (neck paid).
With Google's Glasses we will be able to enjoy the world around us and do a large percentage of our work on the go, without back-pain, neck-pain, head-down and walking into lamposts or any of the annoying and painful physical suffering computers have made humans endure for the past sixty years.
A health savior?
For the first time in computer history we will not have to make any sacrifices on our physical being to engage electronically with the world around us. The BBC reported last week that more Americans are obese than previously thought and it is one of the highest contributors to death in the USA. I'm not blaming the high obesity rate on computers, but humans are not meant to be sitting on our derrieres for eight hours a day.
Before the information age, humans were physically running machines during the industrial revolution and before that much work was hard physical labor, in the past 60 years a large percentage of the word-force has been sit-down white color labour - a job that is both location and physically restricted. When I'm in London I tend to walk around 6-7 miles a day just walking from meeting to meeting, In the USA my day goes from iPhone to laptop to car to laptop to iPhone to bed- not exactly healthy.
Researchers, in a study in the July issue of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, estimate that Over the 13-year study period, more than 78,000 people ages 1 month to 89 years were treated in emergency rooms for acute computer-related injuries.
During my working day, I'm constantly stretching, leaning, clicking to try and counter for the back pain I endure every day hunched over my keyboard; when I first set my eyes on a stand-up desk I reveled in the possibilities of being able to stretch whilst working, now with Glasses I may be able to to run, skip and jump whilst working.
UI as slick as iPhone?
From the video it looks like the UI runs seamlessly from application to application, but I have yet to experience an Android device with the slick and fast user experience of an iPhone, so if Glasses can run Android seamlessly with no delays I'm sure queues around the Googleplex will be a regular occurrence from tech enthusiasts who want to keep lean whilst they browse.
The Manifestation of geeks
It used to be considered 'geeky' to wear glasses, I have many friends who still choose to wear contact lenses over glasses because they consider glasses unattractive and uncool. If Glasses take off it be be considered uncool not to have a pair and the 'geeky' ones will will be those not wearing the glasses- a true manifestation of culture shaped by technology. Glasses will be a step toward AI as the convergence between technology and humans becomes seamless and we truly transition from a time of us working for computers versus the working for us.
A word of advice to Google - you are NOT designers- please team up with Ray Ban or Gucci to create some sexy looking glasses, this will help appeal to the mainstream and give consumers choice so we don't all look like Androids. Apple's smart-phone technology was no more advanced than smart-phone technology that has been existing for years before the iPhone was released, but they focused on good design and it won the mainstream market.
Google's Glasses is an extremely exciting prospect for the human race moving forward, I am currently writing this lying on my bed, neck crocked up awkwardly and painfully by a pillow, in a couple of years time I will hopefully be writing this from my morning run past the Golden Gate Bridge via my Glasses- come on Google make this work, for my neck's sake.
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