Google Glass has been making quite a few waves recently. Like it or not, you have to admit it is the gadget of the moment, becoming a central conversation amongst all tech lovers. And if you were to believe the innumerable articles hogging the Internet, it could become the next must-own product after Apple’s iPhone. And just like any other tech product, it has built up its fair share of advocates and critics. While many have been dying to get their hands on it and drooling over its various specifications, it has become the butt of jokes on many a cartoon. And then there are most who are unwilling to embrace it completely due to its implications on privacy-related issues.
What Is It? What Does It Do? When Can I Own It?
Google’s first foray into the steadily turning popular wearable computing market is the Glass. Quite simply it is a wearable computer with a head-mounted display. At first look, it seems to be nothing more than a wearable camera but it is infact so much more. Google believes Glass can gradually change the way we interact with our gadgets.
Google Glass feeds you stuff that matters to you – your tweets, messages, calls etc. right in front of your eyes and it does this ever so efficiently. It has a camera lens positioned to capture exactly what the wearer sees enabling him/her to take photos and record 720p HD video. It also sports a touch-sensitive panel located behind the camera lens and a miniature display running along the right frame.
Glass runs a version of Google’s Android OS. And so running apps on it, include all of Google’s services is going to be a breeze. So you have a question? Glass gives you an answer quickly. And all this will be a completely hands-free experience.
Saying “Okay Glass” serves as a trigger to prepare the gadget for command. (Yeah, I know it’s hardly spy novel stuff.) You could say “Take a picture”, “Record a video”, “Give me directions to the nearest restaurant”, or “Send a message to Pam” to get by your everyday tasks. To turn on the display, all you have to do is tap the touchpad; to navigate through Glass, simply swipe forward or backward.
Glass is expected to be in the market late this year or early next year. The Explorer editions cost USD 1500 (around Rs 85000) but Google has said that a consumer version would cost significantly less.
So its potentials are endless. No longer do you need to disconnect from the world around you. Just think about it. The world around you would be buzzing with information. If you’re lost, Glass gives you directions. It could show you when the next train or bus leaves.Dangerous intersections can inform you about previous pedestrian deaths. Stuck on which dress to buy? Wear it. Place a call to your friend. Show it to him/her and get their advice. It is in fact quite clear that Google want this to be a smartphone killer. In fact, Glass does most of the stuff we expect from a smartphone with much more efficiency.
Just A Gimmick?
In November last year, Glass received recognition by Time Magazine as one of the “Best Inventions of the Year 2012”. But the question is: is it a device that is here to stay or will it end up an unfashionable flash in the pan?
Tech trends firm ABI Research believes that similar wearable computing devices will “explode” in the coming future and gradually turn into a norm. They believe wearable technology could replace pulling out our smartphones and all the work involved pulling it out from our pockets.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook expressed his views quite openly that it is probably too awkward to be a mass-market device. And judging by the rather goofy-looking design which Google has had patented, he seems to be have a point or two. It could end up being a niche device – something only the so-called “geeks” would wear.
I personally don’t think it can generate the craze trendsetting devices like the iPod and the iPhone created. Back when the iPod was launched, if you had one, you were considered cool. The same was true about the iPhone, and now, the Galaxy S4. If Google wants the younger generation to go crazy after Glass, and I believe it will be their primary target,they have to come up with a much better design. It is an absolute necessity. And it looks like Google already knows it. There are some reports that Google is planning to team up with Ray-Ban to come up with a better-looking version of the Glass.
Although the world of Glass seems to be an exciting one, it brings with it a whole new set of unanswered accusations. There’s no simple on/off switch for the transparency that the Glass world provides and as such, complex real-world problems loom large.
Just as Google Search stores all our previous search entries in their database, the gaze of Google Glass may record all the products we may come across. How do we know for sure that all the brands that attract us are not stored on Google’s database helping them to provide us with a better and more “personal” experience. It is rather disturbing that every move we make that we make could be recorded and stored forever.
Google’s new facial recognition API presents a very terrifying scenario due to its various privacy implications. On one hand, it does have its uses. Haven’t we all encountered situations where we are greeted by a vaguely familiar face and we do return the greeting, but spend the rest of the day wondering who it was. In such situations, face recognition is a life-saver and could potentially help put a stop to many such embarrassing situations.
Not only will be able to identify faces, we may able to match our interests to others, and build intelligent contact books. But what if you don’t want your face to be recognized? Is there any escape? And I believe this surely is only the beginning of potentially uncomfortable things that developers will build into computer glasses of the future.
Also, many are bothered by the voice interface. To each of us, our own personal space is very important. We are already irritated by people talking in loud voices in public places, so you can only imagine how we would feel when someone starts talking to their gadgets as well. Even Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has been quoted as saying that voice control is “the weirdest thing”.
The Final Verdict
The world of Glass is exciting and intriguing, but however it can turn creepy at times. But I believe it is the first step in the direction the world wants to go in.
Whether we like it or not, wearable technology is the future. Nike’s FuelBand was a moderate success but Google can proudly say that they were the ones to have made it mainstream. Although Google Glass in its current form is bound to fail with a tacky design and quite a lot of privacy concerns, one can always argue that Glass is still in its infancy. And the idea behind it – the ability to use gadgets seamlessly without disconnecting ourselves from the world around us – is one that will very likely change our world.
Give it a chance; its next version could be the next best thing.