Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ve probably heard about Google’s most recent foray into hardware manufacturing, Project Glass. For a tech-head, they really are a dream come true: a pair of futuristic glasses with a computer attached, Project Glass has the potential to revolutionize not only the world of Smartphones and tablets (courtesy of their combination of power and portability), but the very way we live our lives.
After all, they’re not just a portable computer with the capacity to make calls or set alarms - they’re also a form of augmented reality, a type of software which enhances sensory input such as sound and audio in order to exaggerate or aid your perceptions. Past iterations of augmented reality have been fairly tame: applications that allow you to perceive and add to virtual graffiti via your Smartphone, applications that permit you to view the prices of products floating alongside them, etc. But if the promotional videos attached to Project Glass are any indication, Google eventually plans for their high-tech glasses to be capable of feats like receiving directions on-the-go, informing you when friends with Project Glass are nearby and collating information about your personal preferences (in much the same way Google Now does) in order to show you concerts or purchases you might enjoy. And, of course, the on-board camera has already ramped up anticipation to a fever-pitch – it might sound like a simple proposition, but a constant hands-free camera is an incredible thing.
Videos showing a first-person skydive, or even a woman on a trampoline, arms raised in excitement, really showcase the potential of the device. Quite apart from the technology involved, Project Glass represents a leap forward in convenience. Hands-free interaction is the latest hobby-horse for tech enthusiasts, after all; Apple’s Siri voice system has already gained widespread acclaim for the capacity to search without having to manually enter information via touchscreen. Imagine how much easier life will be when you don’t even have to open your mouth to search, and instead interact with software via eye movement! And, of course, there’s the fashion aspect. As a piece of wearable technology, you can expect Project Glass to carry even more impact, on release, than the iPad did; instead of carrying a clunky, 10” screen device in a pouch to impress your friends, you’d be wearing a super high-tech pair of glasses, which double as a fashion accessory. And as the technology becomes more successfully miniaturized, the aesthetic impact of Project Glass will become even more pronounced.
Perhaps the biggest impact of Project Glass, however, will be psychological. The whole notion of augmented reality and wearable computers has been a pipe-dream for years, the kind of high-tech vision of the future that has been imagined in TV shows both fictional and speculative. For the longest time, they’ve sat alongside flying cars and hovering skateboards as a vision of what the future could be like… eventually. The fact they’ve actually arrived as a tangible reality is our first step as a species into the kind of world that sci-fi authors dreamed about back in the 40’s and 50’s, and they make the notion of other futuristic advances like flying cars and medical nanomachines that much more realistic, by process of osmosis.
For that reason alone, we’re excited for the genesis of Project Glass. Sadly, they’re not slated for general release for a good few years yet – the prototypes seen used by Google officials such as Sergey Brin are being used to gather data, both technological and sociological, to better perfect the device on general release. But by late 2013 or early 2014, you could be the proud owner of a little piece of the future – and personally, we can’t wait!