If you think texting while walking is dangerous, just wait until everyone starts wearing Google’s futuristic, internet-connected glasses. Directions to your destination appear literally before your eyes. You can talk to friends over video chat, take a photo or even buy a few things online as you walk around. The glasses will be able to do anything a smartphone or tablet computer does now – and then some. Google gave a glimpse of “Project Glass” in a video and blog post last week. Still in an early prototype stage, the glasses open up endless possibilities — as well as challenges to safety, privacy and fashion sensibility. The prototypes have a sleek wrap-around look and appear nothing like clunky 3-D glasses. But if Google isn’t careful, they could be dismissed as a kind of Bluetooth earpiece of the future, a fashion faux-pas where bulky looks outweigh marginal utility.
In development for a couple of years, the project is the brainchild of Google X, the online search-leader’s secret facility that spawned the self-driving car and could one day let people ride elevators into space. If it takes off, it could bring reality another step closer to science fiction, where the line between human and machine blurs. At its best, the goal is to make your life easier by putting the tools now at your fingertips in front of your eyes. “There is a lot of data about the world that would be great if more people had access to as they are walking down the street,” said Jason Tester, research director at the nonprofit Institute For the Future in Palo Alto, California. That said, “once that information is not only at our fingertips but literally in our field of view, it may become too much.” Always-on smartphones with their constant Twitter feeds, real-time weather updates and “Angry Birds” games are already leaving people with a sense of information overload. But at least you can put your smartphone away.
Still, it doesn’t take much to imagine the possibilities. What if you could instantly see the Facebook profile of the person sitting next to you on the bus? Read the ingredient list and calorie count of a sandwich by looking at it? Snap a photo with a blink? Wearing the glasses could turn the Internet into a tool in the same way that our memory is a tool now, mused science fiction writer and computer scientist Vernor Vinge. His 2006 book, “Rainbow’s End,” set in the not-so-distant future, has people interacting with the world through their contact lenses, as if they had a smart phone embedded in their eyes.
“Things we used to think were magic, we now take for granted: the ability to get a map instantly, to find information quickly and easily, to choose any video from millions on YouTube rather than just a few TV channels,” Google CEO Larry Page. As brilliant as this technology may be, it does raise some pretty serious concerns. What if people used it in cars and got distracted? What about the effect on your vision of having a screen so close to your eye?
This latest example is testament to the speed in which technology is progressing, and it is up to brands themselves to keep expanding their own thinking and innovate their own offers alongside. If you would like discuss where your brand could look to innovate, why not give us a call?
Director of Brand Projects
Originally spotted on The Age website.