Google Glasses – The Hype and The Hyperbole

google_glassesThe long awaited Google “Glass” glasses are causing quite a stir as their release date approaches, and the prototypes are being field tested.

The glasses have a small screen which is displayed in the top corner of one of the lenses which displays the information made available from a connected smartphone of device.  It puts the screen right in the line of sight of the person wearing the glasses so that as well as viewing the world through the lenses, they can be watching the information being displayed on the screen.  The Glass also incorporates a camera to record quickly take a photo of whatever you’re looking at.

While this may all seem a little like something from a science fiction movie, the idea isn’t new.  Military pilots have had this kind of display available in their helmets for quite some time, what’s new is the sophistication of the information the glasses can put in front of our eyes as we’re walking along.

The early comments from the lucky few testing the Glass are mixed.  Many find the convenience of being able to check e-mails and dial phone calls with a glance quite liberating.  Not having to pull a phone out of a pocket makes the actions almost effortless. Others, however, feel it really is a gadget too far, aimed at the truly addicted who want to live a large proportion of their lives through the lens of the online rather than engaging fully with the real world.    As one of the field testers points out, just how crucial is it that you get your emails flashed in front of your eyes the moment they arrive, and what does it say about that person if they think that’s more important than the individual they’re actually talking to at that time?

There are also the privacy issues of the camera, which is constantly streaming it’s collected data back to the server.  When someone is out and about with their glasses turned on, whether anyone likes it or not they, and what they’re doing, are being filmed.  This makes the arguments over CCTV monitoring in public places pale into insignificance with civil liberty and privacy issues yet to be addressed.

That aside, the technology is impressive, and the number of applications that could be written for use with the glasses seemingly endless.  Workers could have streams of relevant data available while they’re getting on with their jobs, reducing the time normally taken to stop and check something; you could have Google Maps displaying it’s information as you walk around an unfamiliar city, guiding you around in real time; and at meetings business men could have briefing information relayed to them by assistants as they take part in meetings to make sure they’re making decisions based on the most relevant facts.  As we saw with the iPhone and apple products, once Glass is released, it is likely the number of applications will grow exponentially as the public start to find more and more uses for the devices.

One thing is certain.  With the scheduled release of Google Glass in late 2013, the world will never look quite the same again.

For more on the thoughts of some of the lucky few currently field testing Google Glasses, go to the report by the BBC’s Jane Wakefield:    BBC Report

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