(Maurizio Porcu) Do you remember the Japanese anime series Dragon Ball? When I was six year-old, actually less than two decades ago, one of my dreams was wearing a “scouter”, namely a head-mounted display to measure individual power level.
“That will be the future,” I wondered in front of an old-fashioned television screen.
So you can guess my surprise and excitement when Google founder Sergey Brin presented last June at a conference in San Francisco their new project: Google glass.
The piece consists of a prism screen and a camera embedded in the right-hand arm frame. An Android processor is set in the same side. Aesthetically, they still look quite geeky in spite of the high flexibility and resistance of the frame.
The voice command activation is one of the strong points of the device, leaving the user hands-free in every circumstance.
There are no earphones, although you can make calls and listen to music. This is possible thanks to the contact with the skull via bone-conduction hardware, simply pioneering.
Despite being a pair of glasses, there are no actual lenses, but many voices from the company suggested a likely partnership with Ray-Ban or Warby Parker to add them in the future. Now, nearly 8,000 “bold and creative” individuals have been given the opportunity to try the new device and offer new potential ideas for its use.
Understanding if a new technological revolution has already started, it is not easy. However, what we have seen in the last 60 years it’s a constant reduction of computer devices’ dimensions accompanied by an increase in performances.
The current smartphones are the most updated and widespread example of that evolution: a mini computer suitable in a pocket.
Despite this, Google CEO Sergey Brin made recently a controversial affirmation about the use of smartphones’ technology.
He said: “People look like rubbing on a futureless piece of glass,” adding that implies isolation from the people around you.
A targeted attack, probably aimed to promote the new head-set device, which sounds even more incredible considering he is the creator of Android, installed on 75% of sold mobile devices.
All the clues lead to the conclusion that Google has already decided to point on this project and leave the mobile phones sector as soon as possible. In addition, this highly futuristic device will need new apps created specifically for that and a new market will bear only for them.
Therefore, new possibilities for many young start-up companies are coming along with this item.
What is clear, it’s that with this prototype we have access to an augmented reality. Nothing will be the same anymore.
However, some people have raised concerns over the privacy issues related to the glasses.
In fact, everybody wearing them is capable of taking a picture or recording video just with a vocal command and to share it instantly.
In few words, we are going to be the Big Brother by ourselves. Everyone will be identifiable everywhere as part of a big show, no secret will be safe anymore.
Already a famous bar in Seattle has decided to ban the use of the glasses to its customer, in order to prevent the privacy in the premise.
But also another concern has risen from this invention: human abilities and reality perception are going to be shaped by the potentiality of this new tool.
Every single life experience, from a stroll around the city to a trip in an exotic place, will be assisted by a server connection and you will be able to improve your knowledge and recognition of the surroundings, including people and objects, with a simple vocal request.
Once we cross that line, come back will be almost unlikely and we will feel naked not wearing them. Summarising, artificial intelligence is not more about machines: we are going to be more robotic.
Regarding the commercial aspect, the sale price of the new item is still a mystery. The cost for the few thousands of lucky people selected via web was 1,500$ (995£). Probably it will be the same for the general launch, likely to happen later this year, but actually that’s a secondary aspect.
What is important, it’s the signal send by the Mountain View Company: Google Glass is the biggest step made so far towards a wearable computing era.