By Dan Frasier
There is a secret laboratory in an undisclosed Bay Area location where scientists pursue their every whim; often pushing the limits of technological capability.
Sounds like the opening to a bad Sci Fi movie, huh? Or maybe a diatribe by a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist about the military industrial complex? But actually it’s a real place, known as Google X. In this laboratory, employees of Google are encouraged to pursue their most outlandish concepts from driverless cars to Artificial Intelligence. Rarely do products come out of the lab and to the market. But it looks like that is about to change.
Google recently unveiled a prototype of a product that is in the works called Google Glasses. These are what you call “Augmented Reality” glasses. Augmented reality is a term coined to describe technology that overlays your view of the world around you with images and options that you would want to know. There have been apps created, for example, where you can point your phone’s camera down the block and see on the screen the world just like it is, except pop up bubbles will display the locations of restaurants on the block. Google Glasses, in that way, become a heads up display for your face. Perhaps a better way to describe these glasses is to just show you. This video is Google’s attempt to show you what they hope augmented reality glasses will do.
The funny thing is, it looks like these are really coming to market. The New York Times reports that Google is expecting a year-end release. Not to mention, Google is encouraging people to watch the video and give feedback on its Google+ page about what capabilities they would like to see integrated. By all rights, it looks like they are actually gearing up to sell these things.
My first reaction after watching the video was, “WHOA!” My second reaction was, “Yeah, nobody will ever wear those.” Now that I have had a weekend to digest it, I’m not so sure. I walked around Minneapolis this weekend seeing people with Bluetooth phone thingies in their ears, ear buds in, talking to Siri in their phone and on and on. Nokia has even patented a tattoo that vibrates when your phone rings. I mean, while riding in the car with my 60-year-old dad and hearing him telling the lady that apparently lives in the dashboard, “Play artist, Frank Zappa,” it occurred to me: If technology makes our lives better, we embrace it. So now I’m not so sure people won’t wear them. In fact, I think that if they are even half as capable as the video shows, people WILL wear them. In many ways, they could free you from the tyranny of your smartphone. Eliminating the need to dig it out of your pocket, stare at the screen, type inputs, etc. If it takes less time and effort to do it with the glasses, I think people will.
Either way, we are living in exciting times, technologically. Things are changing fast and you can bet that the technology you are using 10 years from now will be as different from todays as today’s is from what you were using 10 years ago. It’ll be fun to see how it changes.
About the author: Frasier works in finance in Sioux Falls. He’s also an avid outdoorsman. And an Android user. That’s right – not every smarty pants in the world has an iPhone.