Google is an innovative company, but has the search-engine giant overstepped the mark with Project Glass? Is the world ready for life-augmenting glasses or is the project a concept for the future? Read on to learn more about this fascinating development.
Project Glass is as futuristic a concept as any but perhaps too futuristic for now. Some innovations are far ahead of their time, but does technology wait for people or do people adapt to technology?
Several decades ago, when mobile-phone technology gained a foothold in mainstream markets, people were unconvinced by the large cellular devices. How could such a cumbersome product be useful? But as the technology improved, mobile phones became smaller.
Today, smartphones include an incredible amount of technology but they are generally no larger or heavier than a wallet. Such is the rate of development in the mobile broadband industry that soon everyone will own a smartphone.
Smartphones represent the latest evolutionary step in consumer technology. The devices are capable of making and receiving calls and text messages, accessing the internet, taking photos, capturing video and running apps which can do pretty much anything from ordering a pizza to checking the weather.
Smartphones are essentially miniature computers that some people use constantly. And Google hopes that the next phase in their development is to make them wearable. Specifically, the search-engine giant wants to turn smartphones into life-augmenting glasses.
A Vision of the Future
When imagining a technologically advanced future, few people would consider that everyone might wear glasses. Will future humans have more fragile eyesight? Possibly, but Google envisions an altogether different future. The company has spotted the potential to turn smartphones into glasses or headsets. These stylish items of fashion would benefit from cutting-edge technology, enabling people to make calls, take pictures and run apps using voice commands. This vision of the future forms the basis for Project Glass.
Project Glass: Main Features
Returning from the vantage point of a hypothetical future, which may or may not be realised, Project Glass is very much about today. The world may not be ready for smart-glasses, but Google intends to introduce them in the coming months regardless and people may well adapt.
The company has already released several promotional videos of the glasses, which have shown people going about their day-to-day activities while snapping photos, calling friends and accessing real-time location data via Google Maps. Some videos have even demonstrated the benefits of the smart-glasses when worn by skydivers. But to what extent do Google’s promotional efforts reflect reality?
Project Glass is unlikely to include a parachute, but the smart-glasses are known to feature a processor, memory chip, microphone, speaker and touchpad. The device also has a button on the side for capturing images and it features all the necessary sensors for calculating speed, orientation and location.
Showcased at a demo in 2012, Project Glass devices are available for pre-order at a cost of around $1,500 but obviously the product is yet to be finalised, so the retail price ought to be lower. The Explorer edition of the glasses will not include 3G or 4G connectivity, so footage of people making calls to friends and colleagues is slightly misleading.
Unless Google makes another bold step into the future, the smart-glasses will need to be connected to smartphones to access telephony services and other wireless features. This is certainly not ideal.
Another issue that Google must contend with in reality is battery life. Current estimates suggest that the Project Glass prototype cannot survive longer than six hours on a full charge. Google aims to extend use for up to a day, but a longer battery life invariably means bigger batteries. The glasses would only really work if they are lightweight and small. Nobody wants the components of a smartphone attached to the side of their head.
Many people would expect Project Glass to include advanced facial-recognition software, but developers are keen to stress that this will not be a feature of the earliest versions. Nor will the smart-glasses offer much scope for web browsing.
Project Glass will, however, focus on real-time applications such as Google Maps. Advertising will probably not be included in the device (at least not overtly), but users should be able to search for buildings, companies, shops and locations while they are out and about using voice prompts. Photography will be another important feature of the smart-glasses, although it is easy to imagine how this service might be abused.
This is a guest post by Roxanne.Roxanne writes about mobile and broadband technology for a number of blogs and websites. She is a huge fan of smartphone technology but admits that she would be lost without her tablet PC.