Google’s Project Glass: A Peek Into Our Future?

Imagine a world where we can experience our online lives without having to sit in front of a computer screen or fiddle with a handheld device. Where information is not only at our fingertips but, literally, in our field of vision. Notifications popping up in front of our eyes, keeping us connected with the world around us: Facebook profile of the person next to you, directions to a new restaurant, photos at the blink of an eye.

It may sound like a world straight from the imagination of H.G. Wells or Star Trek, but this in fact what Google has proposed with their Project Glass, the latest concept to come out of the company’s X Lab. Rumors of Google selling eyeglasses by the end of this year have been circling for a couple months, but Google finally put the rumors to rest with the product’s announcement via Google+ and the release of the “One day…” video.
 

 
“We believe technology should work for you – to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t,” the product description reads. “A team within our Google[x] group started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment.” Looking at some of the prototype photos the search engine giant released (and also modeled by Sergey Brin at a charity event last week), the “augmented reality” eyewear look straight out of Blade Runner but have a surprisingly sleek wraparound look and appear nothing like clunky 3-D glasses. Is the promise to put the Web in front of our eyes actually a reality? All signs point to yes.
 
The response is both enthusiastic and apprehensive, but the big question is whether Google has stepped too far to blur the line between human and machine – or should we all just accept that this future is only a matter of time. Critics have called out on topics ranging from the dangers of driving with the eyewear to privacy issues. One even asked a neurobiologist about the “psychological and visual-cognitive aspects of the user experience.”
 
What about the lack of Google’s AdWords? Within a day of the video’s release, filmmaker Jonathan McIntosh remixed the original promo to illustrate what the augmented reality would look with the inclusion of ads. As McIntosh writes, “Google will probably not be this obvious with their interface but there’s no question the company will be gathering massive amounts of extremely personal data to build detailed profiles and sell super targeted ads.”
 
Another question critics have been asking is the glasses’ power source. Lithium ion batteries have their limits, which is increasingly outpaced by the growing power requirements of mobile devices. Google has been mum on the issue, but when Brin stepped out at the charity event with the prototype he was carrying a backpack the entire time – which some have speculated held the battery pack to power the unfinished prototype.
 
More importantly, is Project Glass practical? As Washington Post’s Haley Tsukayama commented, “In the way that I envision how I would use the product, I’d take it off when I met a friend for coffee, much in the same way I put my cellphone down… In fact, it’s hard for me, a gadget lover if ever there was one, to think of a device I would want to wear on my head at all times.” However, an actual tester told the New York Times that this isn’t the case. “They let technology get out of your way. If I want to take a picture I don’t have to reach into my pocket and take out my phone; I just press a button at the top of the glasses and that’s it.”
 
What do we think – is Project Glass the product of the future or a breach of our privacy? We’re likely to find out more about the project over the next six to twelve months, but whatever your opinion is about Project Glass the possibility of placing all of the Android OS’s capabilities and apps into a pair of glasses, all accessible by voice command, is breathtaking.  Google has always been a revolutionary company, and they will continue to push the technological envelope to places it has never gone before. As Forbes’ James Poulos commented, “What [Google is] doing is not illegal, and the money to bankroll the conversion of their dreams into reality will never dry up, so nothing will stop them.” Maybe flying cars are a possibility after all.


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21 Responses

  1. [...] we mentioned last week, Google unveiled “Project Glass,” the latest concept to come out of the company’s X [...]

  2. [...] been almost a month since Google announced Project Glass, the augmented reality eyewear out of the Internet and software corporation’s X [...]

  3. Charles says:

    I’d buy it!

  4. Kimberley says:

    Wow, that is amazing! However, I can’t imagine having things pop up in my field of vision like that. It would be incredibly distracting, even controlling when they appeared. This looks like that one step closer to Google implanting microchips in our brains. LOL (at least I think I am LOL.) Nice blog, by the way. You’re a good writer.

  5. Bill says:

    They always show people running around town doing cool things. I imagine people at work goofing off watching Family Guy and students sitting in class watching, well, Family Guy. It really has the possibility to being ADD to a new level!

  6. Donald L. Finch says:

    I’m a LOT too old to be interested in all this personal fluff. Technology is welcome by many(young), but I’ve gotten along very well for too many decades to be positively influenced by the overabundance of whar I consider to be mostly useless communication.

    • Ryan says:

      Well David, we appreciate your sentiment…but we also think that without innovation there is stagnation. imagine if inventors like Nicola Tesla and Alexander Graham bell had thought that things were “good enough”

      But Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading.

  7. gyrfalcon says:

    Google makes a fake video and everyone gets excited about it. There is no product, and they do not have the technology to make one.

    This idea is certainly not new. Are people so stupid and gullible that they actually believe this sort of technology is on the near horizon? Perhaps they should watch Back to the future some more and keep dreaming about a flying skateboard and time traveling cars.

    • Ryan says:

      Thanks for the comment, you might be interested in a follow up piece we wrote regarding the first picture taken with a proto type of project glass that a Google Executive took of Charlie Rose: http://blog.zennioptical.com/project-glass-in-action/

      while it’s certainly not “proof” it definitely does make a compelling case that perhaps the future is closer than you think..

      Thanks for reading.

    • Annie says:

      a lot of the things in back to the future really happened, like books are becoming outdated, now we have digital books, video calling is possible on our computers, things are becoming more automated with customer service, maybe not at the cafe but on the phone, and in medicine and in the armed forces we use robots where people aren’t efficient or its dangerous to use people (like a robot could be used to disarm an explosive.)

  8. Manish says:

    I’d kill to use this gadget. I’ve grown up watching and admiring Sci-Fi hollywood movies and technologies like this always made me drool.

  9. Peter Bay Jespersen says:

    William Gibson: “Virtual Light” (and he’s picked up on it, sorta, in the more recent “Pattern Recognition: a novel”).
    Having aug reality like that suggests advertising as well (well,this is Google, right?!), you’d want to be very careful that the ‘augmentation’ doesn’t become blinkers in reality – once again, refer the TED talk ‘Beware filter bubbles’ : http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html
    so developing the relevant protocols needs to be considered along with the technical development (of course). But, in the end, it’s all future water under the bridge, so not to let cautions deter exploration or the wonderment of new experience!

  10. annie q says:

    I think it’s great and I’m 62. New ways to interact with our friends and our environment are welcomed by young and old alike. I’m awaiting the development with awe and wonder.
    Annie

  11. Karl oppenheimer says:

    Skynet, Skynet, Skynet! Oh, and Zenni rules!

  12. Mark says:

    I will be one of the first to embrace this technology. I’m “all in”.

  13. Tom says:

    Great concept!! Can I test one?

  14. Dennis says:

    I find it interesting that no one is struck by or commented on this statement, “there’s no question the company will be gathering massive amounts of extremely personal data to build detailed profiles and sell super targeted ads.”
    Personally, I am in no way interested in being tracked and monitered. The “conveniences” aren’t that significant enough to warrant that kind of invasion.
    As we already see, these technologies, in many cases, isolate us more than they bring us together. Just go people watch & note how they interact with their phone instead of the person/s with them.
    While I agree the idea is pretty neat I fear that it will not lead us where we really want to go.

  15. [...] April 4 of this year, Google unveiled Project Glass, a long-rumored concept that takes all the functionality of a smartphone housed in a wearable [...]

  16. Evette says:

    Ok I am hoping that Zenni will be great for me as for the reviews that I have read. My eyes are truly bad and I do work in front of a computer all day and then come home and go to college online, so I am going to try this and see what happens you know eyes are the most important to the human being!!!!!

  17. [...] has been a lot of buzz surrounding Google Glass (as you may have noticed by some of our coverage here). However cool the product is, there has always been a question of the product’s benefits to your [...]

  18. [...] Google Project Glass video already gives you a peek into our future. You can see how you can stream information merely by looking at something. You are hungry and do [...]

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