In the future, we’ll all be wearing glasses — if Google gets its way. The company has pulled back the curtain on Project Glass, a new augmented reality system that is worn like glasses. Depending on where users are and what they’re doing, the system overlays real-world places and things with pertinent information. This ranges from maps and alerts to video chats where the user can share what they’re actually seeing. It’s something straight out of a science- fiction flick, and it’s rubbing some people the wrong way.
Not much is known about the project aside from a mockup video that shows one guy using Project Glass to find directions, check in, stalk his friend and share his vision through a video chat with a female friend, all with a few phrases. Most of the features aren’t far from what modern smartphones can do, but the real “wow” factor is how seamless Google envisions the project can be. The artificial intelligence in Glass, similar to Siri, lets the actor turn off his music with just a phrase and dictate messages to send.
The video leaves many questions about how these tasks will be accomplished. Already, bluetooth headset users are mocked for talking to themselves, and Project Glass looks like it could face the same issue. The technology perpetuates the trend that real life needs to be overlaid with digital information. People who already have a hard time leaving the house without their phone may never unplug if Glass takes off. Already, people seem to be writing it off without ever trying the device.
The big questions though, are when and if Google can deliver on the augmented reality teased in the video. Many people think Project Glass will end up a money hole, sucking up funds without ever producing a mass-market product that people actually want to use. The issue with this thinking is that if Google can pull it off, they could be paving the future of mobile computing, leaving competitors behind. Specifically for a hardware company like Apple, Project Glass has to be on their radar as they plan for the future. There are only rumors of when a prototype may emerge — some say as early as this summer — but don’t expect to be lining up to buy the system anytime soon. Project Glass seems to be strictly experimental at this point.
Until devices emerge and the public can see how Project Glass really works, it’s impossible to pass judgment. One thing is certain though — Google is finished playing catch up to Apple and Facebook, and is headed back to what they do best — innovation. Rumors of more secret projects that push the boundaries of technology should have tech fans excited to see what’s next. Count this one stoked.
TJ Gunther is a senior journalism major. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.