Google Glass is a ubiquitous, head-mounted computer that Google is currently developing. The “Explorer Edition” will soon be available to a select group of people based on their responses to the prompt “If I had Glass…” for $1,500. A consumer version of the product will likely be released by the end of 2013/beginning of 2014 for even less.
When you put on Google Glass, you don’t immediately see a screen – you have to focus on the top right area of your view, and suddenly the small box materializes. This is undoubtedly to make it unobtrusive. (Or perhaps Google is trying to adopt some of Apple’s minimalism.) However, I feel that this extra step – looking up and refocusing to see the screen – is unnecessary. This kind of technology should be fully integrated into users’ views. Its uses are also relatively limited for what it is. Yes, it can complete the majority of tasks smartphones can: web search, weather, taking photos, etc. But it could do so much more.
Glass needs a full heads-up display. As in, Iron Man’s helmet-level heads-up display. For example: road directions. If Glass had two full lenses instead of its current little cube, your directions could be superimposed over the road ahead of you. At a party and you can’t remember who it is who just walked over to you and asked about the kids? Use Glass’ camera to search for their face across various social media sites, then display key information about them, like which college they went to and whether they have any friends in common with you. Look at text in a foreign language and immediately translate it. Examine a leaf and Glass will tell you what tree it came from and no don’t pick that up it’s poisonous. Superimpose an ebook over the world as you ride the bus to work. Look at a building and learn its name and use. Watch a movie on the go. Filter sunlight if it’s getting too bright. Watch 3-D movies at home. Maybe you’re jogging and you need some extra motivation, so Glass places computer-generated zombies around you to get you that extra mile. In fact, there is a whole world of potential virtual-reality uses, from turning a fencing match into an epic fantasy battle to interacting with a friend who is in another country.
Okay, yes. Many of the operations listed above test the limits of privacy – face recognition especially. Most will also be obvious distractions, especially when driving or crossing the street. Our society isn’t quite ready for this level of technology. I guess Iron Man will have to hold onto his HUD for now.