Google has surprised everyone by announcing Project Glass – their new augmented reality glasses. First there were speculation that it could be April Fools (Google is famous for pulling a few tricks on the first day of April and this year they didn’t disappoint with 23 of those tricks) but it turns out that it is true and legit and that Google is ready to hit the stores with their new glasses by the end of this year. Their Google+ page says that they are starting a “human” test pilot program from now until the end of the year to iron out the kinks.
First of all, congratulation to Google for coming out with something innovation and bold. It has been a while since they have innovated. Google search was innovative, Gmail was innovative too but then after that it was just a string of expensive purchases (YouTube, Android, Writly, etc) or Complicated ideas (Yes, we all still remember Google Wave!).
If you’ve seen the promo video on YouTube you’ll notice a few things.. the first of which is no facebook or twitter integration. Google has opted to show that you can share photos with your circles.. mmm.. is Google trying to protect and promote its own Google+, is that borderline evil? I’ll leave you to decide..
The other thing that is not obvious in the video is the shape of those glasses. The glasses are ugly- at least in their current form. Possibly they have shot the video from the first-person view for that reason. It’s just a plastic band with a weird little plastic screen on one eye only. If google is going to be serious about making this a success, then they have to get D&G or Ray-Ban on board. Having a bulky phone is one thing but having ugly glasses is a completely other thing.
The other question is usability, when a person is using their phone they can reply to text messages privatly without anyone knowing but if the interface to interact with the glasses is voice then everybody is going to be knowing what’s going on. Imagine the situation in a crowded place like a train. Everybody is talking to themselves (or their glasses really).
In addition to that, what if you are actually looking at something in real life and then a map layer hovers over and you miss what you are looking at. Unless it’s done really well, it could be a real annoyance.
Another question that begs to be asked is about “positioning”, when Apple came out with the iPad, they positioned the product between a phone and desktop/laptop. it had a position, it had potential usage (media player, book, game console, quick email and browsing, etc). Where does Google position the glasses? I think they want to replace the phone but i don’t see it replacing the phone, but i think what would be more resonable is to treat it as a visual bluetooth device that works with the phone in your pocket.
which takes nicely to the next point “health”. Google mentioned that the glasses will get the information using 3G which is all great but has anyone thought about the effect of having a 3G Spy - Investigazioni fai da Te device literaly stuck to your brain all day? I think that would pose of a few health alarms.
In summary, what would make it or break it is the coolness factor of the interface and what you can do with it, if Google gets it right and the market accepts it then we’ve got a big disruptor to the phone/communication industry.
All in all, Project Glass is very ambitious which is something that Google should be commended on but we hope that one day it could come a reality.
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