Last week, Google announced Project Glass, an ambitious project to feed on-demand, real time data onto eyeglasses http://bit.ly/HeSg62. The project has produced skepticism and mocking, both of which I think are unjustified. Google is merely nudging us along to an eventuality – the click less, swipe less web interface and the internet of things.
Last year, I wrote a report on mobile augmented reality http://bit.ly/hycWOK in which we found that many enterprising companies are seeking to expand the internet to become even more useful than it is today. Visionaries at companies like Google, Intel, Metaio, and DoCoMo http://bit.ly/AyGQuz believe there will be a day when we can attach data, graphics, audio or video to objects such as buildings, vehicles, machinery or a location. This data could then be accessed using augmented reality technology – either through a smartphone app through which you would see or hear the data as you looked at the object, or eventually through glasses.
While today we are seeing the emergence of smartphone apps and AR, there are lots of challenges before any of this happens for eyewear. Applications would require filters because of information overload – our brains can’t handle too much data at one time. One solution in that respect could be you as a consumer choose the apps you would like to run through your eyewear, just as smartphone users choose apps and run them today on their phones. Industrial and military uses of augmented reality eyewear produce significant eye fatigue. And how would eyewear and smartphones peacefully coexist over time? And then there are issues around attaching data to things -- indoor AR today is limited because of GPS, and image recognition requires huge, cross-referenced databases.
But it is easy to see why Google is so interested. Search expands when internet expands, and where search goes, so goeth Google.
I believe Google will showcase Google Glass to promote the technology and look to eyewear and smartphone makers to make eyewear eventually. They will potentially make eyewear (with a partner), but as with Google phone and new Google branded tablet, Google knows the key is to make click less touch less web interface and the internet of things universal.