Lifestyle contributor Christopher Davies takes a look at Google’s new computer glasses, Google Glass
In late February, Google released further details about their latest venture – a wearable computer in the form of a pair of glasses. Simply called Google Glass, the spectacles enable augmented reality for the user via a head-mounted display powered by a tiny computer processor and battery.
While this may sound like the kind of device you would see in a sci-fi film, Google’s X Lab has been working on the project for some time and produced a prototype around August 2011. Although head-worn displays are not a new concept, with company’s like Vizux offering various video eyewear products, Google Glass represents more than just an entertainment viewer.
Wifi and Bluetooth
These particular glasses are able to connect to the Internet through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth via the user’s smartphone. Google Glass is also an interactive device, as speech, touch and movement are all recognised, resulting in different outcomes.
Google’s promotional video for the product suggests the user can achieve a cavalcade of functions. From taking a picture, recording videos, receiving point-by-point directions, searching the Internet for information, translating your voice into another language and sending voice messages, all everyday activities are catered for. Tasks seem effortless in their execution and the device’s display is an unobtrusive object in the individual’s eye line.
A range of different colours
The Google Glass design, much like the whole concept, is notably futuristic and does not resemble your contemporary pair of specs. The glasses are sleek, simple and minimalist as well as being strong, lightweight and available in a range of different colours.
Reception from the industry has generally been positive, with Time Magazine going so far as naming it one of the “Best Inventions of the Year 2012”. However more sceptical critics have suggested Google will exploit the technology to display advertising, something the search engine giant has denied.
Glass adopter programme
Google recently launched an early adopter program looking for developers and consumers to test out the product. The hands on focus panel would not only test out the Google Glass features, but also give feedback on how it could be incorporated in everyday life.
Even though Google has managed to integrate a lot of technology in such a small product, a feat that must be commended, the biggest obstacle is yet to come. It remains to be seen whether customers will want to embrace Google Glass into their everyday lives.
Improving the image of wearable technology?
From an onlooker’s perspective, the sight of an individual wearing Google Glass may provoke a negative reaction. The introduction of Bluetooth headsets in everyday society for example has hardly improved the image of wearable technology. Fashion over function still remains a sticking point for a vast majority of consumers.
Computing on the go: eminently useful
Google will certainly hope that Glass overcomes this hurdle and becomes more of a status symbol. The concept of ubiquitous computing is certainly an attractive one, especially when it involves little more than nonchalantly muttering a simple request.
News reports even suggest that Google will open retail stores where potential users can try on the product and hopefully realise they are actually an elegant design weighing less than a standard pair of sunglasses.
Therefore the ultimate question for Sergey Brin and his team, regardless of how much technology they can pack into such a tiny device, is whether or not the general public will want to be seen wearing Google Glass. However you wouldn’t be surprised to see Google develop an even smaller hardware solution, meaning upcoming incarnations resemble a stylish pair of regular glasses. If this does happen, Google may once again revolutionise an industry.