Wearable computing is about to change the technological landscape in what is going to be one of the biggest and longest coming revolutions since Social Media came onto the scene. Wearable computing is not a new idea, it’s been around since the 1980’s, but it has been slow in getting to a consumer market due to cost and scalability.
That all changed with Google Glass.
Google officially announced the new device in 2012 at the June Google IO conference with the aid of several skydivers parachuting out of a plane, while each of them were streaming live video from above the event on a Google Hangout.
The Glass device is basically a heads up display that sits partially over your eye, giving you a one-eye-view into the digital world, showing you anything from the weather to the location of a friend. It also has a camera capable of capturing video and still pictures and, instead of a speaker, it has a Bone Conduction Transducer which transmits audio directly to the innermost part of the ear via the nose clip on the glasses.
While smartphones have managed to bring us small snippets of our everyday lives in a more portable format (sometimes a little too much), it means getting a smartphone or device out to interact with the internet and social networks. With Google Glass, however, it literally is right in front of you. Have a video Hangout with friends while walking the dog, watch TV while doing the shopping or even a physics teacher taking his classroom on a virtual field trip into CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.
While the technology was initially well received, Glass has started to roll out to a select few as part of an early adopter program with seemingly mixed results, especially around privacy. Built into the Glass software is something called “Blink Control” which allows developers to tie functionality to a blink response; that means that just by blinking you can take a picture or video without anyone even knowing.
Not only that, but the camera can be used for face recognition allowing any Glass user to potentially know anyone around them. We already have a similar technology being used in Police cars to identify car license plates and any outstanding fines or warrants for the owner.
There is also some concern around movie piracy which would allow someone to live stream a movie to a Google Hangout, or even record it on the device.
Google has already filed patents for a second version of the device which will have lasers (reportedly for gesture control “Minority Report” style) and for a dual heads up display (which will open the device up for 3D effects).
Like or loathe, it is here to stay. And I for one, as a developer, can’t wait to get my hands on a set to put it through its paces.