Updated 5:51 p.m.: You’ve probably heard the rumors about Google glasses — the specs that would, Terminator-style, give wearers an opportunity to enhance their world with the power of the Web as they go through their day.
Well, Google gave folks a preview of their “Project Glass” Wednesday, posting it on (where else?) Google Plus.The glasses, to be clear, are still in testing and not available for sale.
The team, which is working inside the Google X offices, posted the following to Google+ along with the video previewing what the Glasses could look like:
A group of us from Google[x] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment. We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input. So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do.
The glasses, as seen in the design photos Google provided, could consist of a silverish band that wraps around the forehead and a slim white (or black) band that rests just over the right eye containing the small view finder. Nose pads also extend from the silver band, keeping the device in place. Unlike traditional glasses, they do not cover both eyes.
While the photos show what the device looks like, the video shows what it could potentially display, including Google Maps and turn-by-turn directions as you’re walking. The hypothetical user in the video tours a book store, asking the device where the music section is and to remind him to buy concert tickets (Siri, anyone?). The glasses could also allow the user to check in at various locations and serve as a meeting reminder. At one point in the video the user says, “Music, stop” to pause an MP3 player before taking a video call.
But, so far, this is all still Google’s vision. The company indicates that it is extremely unlikely the glasses will be sold before the end of the year.
Judging from the video, it looks as if these glasses could usher in a new world order for foot traffic — people stopping at awkward points in their daily commute as they assess the visual enhancement of their world. Then again, Bluetooth technology managed to make people look as if they were talking to themselves, so it’s not as if this sort of change is unprecedented. However, the New York Times’s Nick Bilton reports:
People I have spoken with who have have seen Project Glass said there is a misconception that the glasses will interfere with people’s daily life too much, constantly streaming information to them and distracting from the real world. But these people say the glasses actually free people up from technology.
On the flip side, if a large enough group of people at, say, the Bruce Springsteen concert in D.C. this past weekend, had these glasses and were all taking snapshots simultaneously and sharing them to Google+ that could create a pretty awesome crowd-source composite panorama.
What do you think? Are Google’s glasses what you expected; will you buy them, and how do you think they will change day-to-day life? Let us know in the comments.
Update: Augmented reality, while great for Terminators, is apparently not so great for everyone else — at least not as Google is currently envisioning it. That is to say, Project Glass appears to be getting mixed reviews online.
First the bad news for Google. VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar writes that the glasses “still seem too obtrusive for most consumers,” and Big Think’s Austin Allen writes, “this video makes me want to curl up on a prayer mat in a Buddhist monastery.” Meanwhile, one headline at SlashGear simply reads, “You don’t want Google’s Project Glass.”
But the reviews aren’t all thumbs down. TechCrunch’s Chris Velazco, while cautioning people to take the photos and video with a grain of salt for the time being (something I also encourage), writes: “This is terribly, terribly cool stuff.”
On Project Glass’s Google Plus page, one user, Renaud Lepage, simply wrote, “Shut up and take my money.” While another, Nathan Harig, writes, “Man, I could see a lot of use here for those of us in the emergency services ... having data like this in realtime handsfree would be a huge asset.”
Here at The Post, readers seem to be torn as well. User “Pjs1965” writes:
This is stupid, and creepy in a very subtle way that only Google can do. The physical world around me is fine the way it is, it doesn't need any enhancement. And I am no luddite — I'm [a] software engineer.
User “didnik” writes, “I guess I am old, I find this pretty unappealing.” Meanwhile, user “vpaulsmithjr” writes, “I would definitely buy a pair. It’d help [if] the price is reasonable and if the mobile carriers don't find some way to charge the heck out of such a product. But it seems great otherwise.”
Since the announcement went live Wednesday afternoon, Project Glass’s Google Plus page has received over 500 comments. Regardless of what you may think of the glasses, Google has succeeded in one respect: getting the feedback they asked for.
Full disclosure: My brother works for Google, but he does not work on Project Glass.
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