Saturday, 3 August 2013

What's in the way of Google Glass?

When it was first shown to the world, I was amazed by Google Glass. With some time however, I became a little fatigued by seeing so much press and hype, but no consumer product. Eventually I realised that Google Glass in it's current form isn't all that great. There's a long way to go, but I saw a video today that revived my interest in Glass, and the future it lays ahead for us.

The above YouTube video completely blew me away. For the past few months the media's interest, in the product has somewhat dwindled. Hands on videos of the product are interesting, but where most people see something they find cool, they don't seem to see something they wish to buy and own.

Glass is young. Watching this video, I saw a clearer vision of what potential lies ahead on the road that Google is paving. I saw a future where a blind man that speaks Italian had a face to face conversation with a deaf woman that only understands French. And why not? All the tools we need exist - we just need to refine the technology, develop the platforms, and wait for time to do it's thing.

The biggest technical issue holding Glass back at this point is the battery. Powerful abilities like those shown above can only be leveraged in day to day lives if the device is able to be constantly on, watching and listening. This is just a technical limit though, and improvements in technology are likely to solve this problem with time. The difficult part is their privacy issue - one that will only get harder with time.

The Moto X phone that Motorola and Google have just released will be a decent test of where the public's privacy opinion lies right now. The future we're heading to will require a lot of consumer confidence in Google and other tech companies to protect data. I'm very curious to see how Moto X's 'always listening' ability plays out once it's available. For the time being, the tech bloggers seem to love it.

Having said that, always watching seems to be a whole different ball game. We can't say people completely hate the Xbox's new eyes, but reaction to the Xbox One's always watching Kinect has been a little resistant. Who wouldn't be a little freaked out by a device that is so sensitive it can see your heartbeat? All the time.

Will we tolerate a Glass device that is constantly recording, I wonder? If not, what does Google need to do to convince users that this is beneficial. The advantages will be impeccably clear, as this video above can demonstrate (a visually impaired worker can be given prompts about what lies ahead, without any interaction with the device), but the privacy concerns might raise a solid brick wall for them to negotiate.