Sunday, 1 July 2012

Google Glasses - Is It the Future?

You may or may not have heard of the Google Glass project.

If you have not heard about it check out the Google+ page about it https://plus.google.com/111626127367496192147#111626127367496192147/posts

But in short its a set of Augmented Reality glasses that you wear and this allows Google to provide information realvant to what you are doing, which is then shown on the eye piece, such information can be place location information, emails, or even recording what you see and stream it live. I guess it is probably like the Apple iPad and going to be shipped without instructions

Will It Work

Ok the idea is sound, having something we can use to provide real-time information to us directly without the need to get out a phone or look at a map. So in theory Yes the project has real potential, as bridging the gap between the internet information we want and where we are is great, this in essence is what Augemented Reality is all about.

The application of the Glass project and design are the key to its success. I personally see that major benefits of the project as being the real world stuff that will make a difference, I dont think that being able to read emails in a tiny window will really work, think Google the current trend is tablets, and why is that because they are bigger than a smartphone by not as heavy as a iPad, laptop, people will not read email on a set of Google Glasses.

I think my thoughts on Google Glass split into the following.

Pros
  1. Live streaming and recording, ideal for emergency services, military to keep in touch with base and improve communication between members. Now soldiers can actually see where their colleagues are, making tactics, not to mention rescue a whole lot easier. this would also be ideal for training scenarios. I love the idea of being able to record my mountain bike trips and watch them back later.
  2. On the spot information, such as information about things you see right in front of you, such as "how is this statue by" or "what is that movie about". But more to the point stuff like car sales could really benefit, as when you are viewing a car you could see what you need to look for, as well as realtime pricing or insurance information.
  3. In general any information that changes realtime will be useful via Google glass, train information, bus information, flight information, traffic news, etc.
  4. In short, think terminator, I want to be able to get information about what I can see now. This one factor is the success story of the Glass Project.
  5. Google Glasses would be a perfect replacement to my GPS device I use for walking.
You get the idea the Glass project is perfect for getting up to date information to you when you need it, or recording what you see as you see it from your point of view.

Cons

Although the idea is a good one, I think its just that a good idea and like any good idea it will win or lose in the application and design, this in my view is where Google need to think hard. Mainly due to the follow.
  1. The chosen design is wrong, no one will wear a pair of glasses that only has one lens, well being honest a select view people will but a very small minority.
  2. Coverage, and this will be the make or break of the whole project, as already people are having problems with mobile phone coverage and mobile internet, and although Google can set up a cool test in ideal conditions "big blimp giving signal", what about someone in a poor coverage area, or more to the point a solider in a war zone with signal being blocked? If the glasses dont get coverage they wont work.
  3. Without a targeted niche the whole project will fail, so rather than sell the project to everyone, Google need to target a few areas as an overal augmented reality pair of glasses just will not be popular enough or different enough from current smartphones to make people buy them.
  4. Lack of true location information using GPS and supported mapping.
  5. Screen (or lack or) size, in short the thought that anyone is going to read emails on their Google Glasses is one that should be thrown out the window, they are too small for that application.
Solutions and Some Ideas

I have a few ideas that should happen to make the Google Glass project more of a success, these include
  1. Google Glasses need to be made to either look more like a pair of normal glasses or sunglasses / shades or be able to clip in to existing glasses as a kind of add on. Almost like giving your regular glasses super powers, after all if you already wear glasses, why not have super ones, the key here is that the design need to be incorporated and not a clearly visible thing attached to your Glasses, as is the case for the initial design of Google Glass for prescription glasses wearers.
  2. Google Glasses need to be able to work even without signal. So I should be able to upload information to my Glasses for information that I want in real time, but in reality is not realtime information, such as maps, directions, movie info, car info or anything else I may want that is not really real time information.
  3. Battery Life. In short there should be none, Google Glasses should be self sufficient in terms of power or at the very least have the internal battery backed up by solar power, so I never need to worry about losing power, especially due to the applications they can be used for.
  4. Syncing with my computer and the internet, just like my Google Docs account I have a folder on my PC and everything I put in there automatically syncs to my online Google Docs account. This is how Glasses should work, I should be able to connect them to my computer and they automatically sync stored information onto my computer, such as videos I have recorded, photos I have taken or any other information, this can then be synced to my online Google Glasses account so I can share photos, videos and anything else with people online, just like I do with Google Docs
  5. I would love the idea that true location information is shown and recorded, meaning that a huge potential market of anyone who users a GPS or map will be able to use Glasses for exploration. I do a lot of walking and would love to be able to see my location live on a map. The beauty of this is that if I could upload a digital map to my Glasses I would not even need mobile coverage for this to work, as GPS work pretty much everywhere. With tracklog data being recorded and video when I want it to be, meaning when I get back I can review my trip just like I do now using my current GPS device and camera.
  6. A better form of input, such as projected keyboard would make the glasses a true go anywhere laptop, tablet replacement.
Ok so these are just a few of my ideas for Google Glass, and I hope that this project is a success as I love the idea of being able to record stuff I do and see live information about things around me. But I still think the project has a way to go to be a viable sales option.

But I wish Google every success in the Google Glass project and I look forward to wearing them in the future.

Thanks
Sean J Connolly
@SeanJC