Think about the future. What does it mean to you? For many, dreams of flying cars bustling over glittering metropolises abound. For others, it’s the ease of consuming all meals in pill form. Lasers? Hoverboards? For years, companies and consumers, alike, have been obsessed with the future and what it might hold. Tech juggernaut Google is the latest to try to find the answer with its new wearable mobile-computing device, “Google Glass.” As we just learned, today, the first devices are hot off the production line and ready for a series of shipment waves. Google has sent out an email to its “Google Explorers,” the consumers who pre-ordered the device as Google I/O attendees last year.
Google Glass, also referred to as “Glass,” is a portable device, worn on the head like traditional eyeglasses. It allows users to migrate towards personal mobile computing characterized by complete freedom from bulky technological constraints of computers of the past. With the simple verbal command, “Okay glass!”, users are able to take pictures and video as they are looking at their surroundings. They can also access a wide variety of Glass features, including Google’s search function, local weather and Google Plus’ Hangout feature. As of yet, no third-party apps have officially been announced. But with today’s release of the cloud-based Google Mirror API, it won’t be long until we see a multitude of ideas being developed. Google Mirror API functionality does not require running code on Glass hardware, but rather allows developers to build web-based services, dubbed “Glassware.”
The Glass platform represents a revolution in terms of voice control. Although voice-controlled computing has seen a great deal of publicity in recent years, largely in part to the proliferation of Apple’s Siri, the general consensus is that nobody has yet been able to take the technology to its true potential. Attempts at bringing voice control into the mainstream have been met with a healthy mixture of excitement and derision. While industry experts and consumers, alike, fawn over its futuristic potential, there is a prevailing view that these functions are largely pointless. In today’s smartphone-dominated age, many users find it faster to simply type out a command than to awkwardly recite one into the speaker and then wait for the phone’s system to analyze it. Many users also feel awkward issuing voice commands in public, which could certainly detract them from adopting Glass.
As with any piece of technology that doubles as a fashion accessory, debate has raged regarding the aesthetic appeal of Glass. Google has attempted to get ahead of potential criticism by equipping runway models with the new device and engaging in a social media-based viral marketing campaign, including a Twitter contest through which developers and fans could win prototype devices and help Google with overall development. In addition, Google is rumored to be in talks with several large eyeglass manufacturers, such as Ray Ban, to integrate the display into the lenses of traditionally styled glasses and sunglasses.
Industry pundits have already noticed that Glass could change the way media and advertising are consumed, by offering a much more personal experience. The omnipresent nature of the device allows for consumers to be targeted by ad campaigns almost constantly, something that many detractors have highlighted, but which has ad agencies salivating. Google has not released any information regarding ad integration, but it’s safe to assume that it will factor in somehow, given the enormous potential for revenue that it represents.
Google has stressed repeatedly that Glass is not meant to serve as an augmented reality device, as some have claimed, but rather it is meant to free up the computing experience and allow for a more seamless integration of computing into the daily lives of consumers. Although it certainly may take time for the product to gain mainstream acceptance, due to its fledgling technology, it has a limitless developmental ceiling and should meet with a large amount of success, if not immediately. The integration of Glass into traditional eyewear represents the largest opportunity for success. If Glass can be worked into the modern American lifestyle, it could easily replace the smartphone as the next technological necessity. Although various companies have attempted to popularize such devices in the past, Google is the first to make a concerted effort to integrate this device into public life. Given the almost unlimited resources possessed by the company, and the intriguing nature of the product at hand, Google stands a great chance at doing so.
[Sources: MNN, NBC News, Entrepreneur, Google, TechRadar]