Recalling some sci-fi movie might be the first action your brain will carry out just by you will have started watching the Google Glass promo video. It’ll be natural to get some flashback from movies such as Blade Runner, Terminator, Iron Man or the recent sci-fi series Black Mirror.
In fact, on 20th February, Google took two significant steps towards selling Google Glass to the public: it released the first video showing the augmented-reality headset’s user interface (its videos on Youtube achieved 20 million views), and it launched an essay contest of sorts inviting people to apply for its Google Glass Explorers programme.
So if you have a spare $1,500 under your mattress and you’d like to test out a futuristic wearable computer, you could begin thinking over purchasing that all the rage hi-tech gadget: Google Glass are waiting for you. About one thousand prototypes of the new device – which can take pictures or videos, and display information in a small screen visible to them above their right eye – are now out for testing with users worldwide. It is likely they may go on sale next year, Google proclaimed.
The user interface on Glass is composed by a small display which presents beautifully simple white text displaying your commands, along with incoming text messages, video chat feeds, Google search results, maps and everything else Glass can do. In the video, we see that the headset takes voice commands like “OK Glass, snap a photo”, but it’s still unclear what users can do with their hands.
According to Google the display is “the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away” and the device can also provide sound, with bone-induction technology confirmed: it creates by vibrating the skull’s user. Battery life is likely to be a day, and they will have 16GB of flash memory built into the device, of which only 12GB for user storage. Bluetooth and WiFi too will be built in, but no GPS chip, thus the Glass will probably work best alongside an Android phone.
However, Google has already got its competitors such as Apple, Sony and Oakley which have been developing the potential Glass rivals, and they won’t be the last. Also the Chinese Google, Baidu, has been making smart glasses, declared the spokesman for the Chinese firm. Kaiser Kuo, Baidu director for international communications, said that the technology makes the most of Baidu’s considerable expertise in facial recognition.
“What you are doing with your camera, for example, taking a picture of a celebrity and then checking on our database to see if we have a facial image match, you could do the same thing with a wearable visual device.”
Alarming words we might say, especially for those worried about the capabilities of this type of technology. Among them there is a campaign group named “Stop the Cyborgs”, that has made a call for limiting the headset use.
In fact, this visionary device has triggered a vast range of reactions: tech evangelist Robert Scoble, has already claimed in a review he “will never live a day of [his] life without it” and has told of amazed crowds asking for a chance at trying them. Others, who worry about being photographed or filmed without their consent, aren’t so enthusiastic: in a Seattle’s club, for example, they have already been banned, even before they go on general sale. In the meanwhile, the first pictures taken with Google Glass have begun to emerge and then apparently posted automatically to Twitter with the hashtag #throughglass.
Obviously with any new technology there is the potential for misuse, and Google Glass is, of course, a little problematic when it comes to privacy. The company based in Mountain View might say we all already have portable devices which can do similar tasks, but its new gadget submits us a new matter beyond privacy: what will the impact on our social behavior be, knowing that we could be spied, filmed and replayed in such a easily way?