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Google Glasses. What could go wrong?

Here’s something visionary. Google has revealed that its engineers are developing a wearable computer: A mobile device built into eyeglasses. Bravo to Google for being ambitious. Will this possibly be good?

Google describes “Project Glass” as a way to “explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment.” As you can see in the demo video, Google imagines people using these glasses for social networking, maps, getting realtime information, taking photos—activities that are presently the domain of the smartphone.

I have some nits to pick with the hip Manhattan scenario in this video. Particularly: No self-respecting New Yorker would ever request turn-by-turn directions from 23rd and Park to The Strand. But it’s a demo. Let’s give Google a pass on that.

More worrisome is how overboard they go on social. It feels like a cry of desperation from Google: “For the love of God, what do we have to do to get you people to use Google+? Invent a glasses computer? Fine! Here! We hope you’re happy!”

A funny thing about new computer technology is that it’s difficult to anticipate what people will use it for. When PCs came out, we were told to use them to organize recipes and balance our checkbooks. We were supposed to have fax machines in our homes to send letters to friends. These glasses will probably have some amazing applications, but dictating text messages and finding your way to the bookstore seem like ideas that lack imagination.

To me, the killer app would be shooting photos and video. In fact, if photography was all this product did, I would want it immediately. Coupled with excellent wireless capability, it would be the ultimate Livestream device. Matched with unlimited storage and good batteries, I can imagine it keeping a video of everything you see all day — something with many practical results, like never forgetting anything.

Or, it might open up a world of distraction and privacy invasion, as imagined in this parody video by Tom Scott:

That made me laugh, especially the ham-handed local ad placement. Of course, I don’t want to laugh too loudly. Google might already be listening.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Technology

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