Update: Oakley has announced that they are bringing out glasses that have the ability to project images onto the lenses. http://j.mp/Iy6koZ
Greetings. As you may or may not have heard over the last week or two, Google is going to turn us all into cyborgs. How? You may ask. With the use of their latest planned product; Project Glass. A pair of augmented reality glasses that enhance every aspect of your life. For many people (including me) I’m sure this brings up many questions. Sadly, we here at The Freshmethod Blog can’t answer them all but we can take a look at these questions and present some different possibilities.
What is augmented reality?
Augment: Verb: Make (something) greater by adding to it.
Augmented reality (AR) sounds like a term from a science fiction movie and so it should. It’s basically using technology to enhance the world around you. The best way I can explain it is to think about your Facebook photos. If you rest your mouse pointer over someone’s face their name appears. This is, in effect, augmenting the photo; adding something to it to enhance it. Now image if you could do this in real-time to the world around you. Imagine if you could look at a building and say “where am I?” and the address pops up in front of your eyes. This is an example of the concept of AR. Still not sure what I mean? Well take a look at this.
Welcome to Project Glass
Impressed? You should be. This is not only a stroke of genius by Google in a technological sense but in a business sense as well.
Why let the cat out of the bag?
Project Glass is still a long way off. Yes, even though Google founder Sergey Brin has been seen wearing what is allegedly a working prototype, word on the street is that we will have to be content with our standard reality glasses for at least another 12 to 18 months and I personally think it will be more. But even if the project were to be released in six months, Google have publicly acknowledged that this is a beta product and is not ready yet so why not take a leaf from Apple’s book and (try to) keep it a secret until just before it’s release?
When Apple release the iPhone they revolutionised the mobile phone and got a strangle hold on the market. In fact, earlier this year Reuters reported on a study by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech saying that iPhones out numbered all makes and models of Android phones combined in Q4 of 2011. Apple defined what the next generation of smart phones were going to be and because they kept it under wraps for so long, everybody else was left scrambling, trying to make something that fit in with that definition. So why would Google not stick with a strategy that was so undeniably successful? Without wanting to sound too cliché, this time it’s different. Google is not defining a subset of an already popular market, they are inventing a completely new market altogether. This makes predicting how the consumers are going to react a much more difficult task. Let’s face it, as strikingly handsome as that guy in the picture up to is, he is a skivvy and a haircut away from being the reincarnation of Geordi La Forge. It’s easy to see that the popularity of this device could go either way. So what does this have to do with releasing information about Project Glass early? Put simply it forces other companies to make a decision. Do we chase Google or hope that it’s a flop? If everyone thinks there is a future in the AR glasses market then they will start to announce their own hardware which will help to grow the industry so Google doesn’t have to do it alone and many people will still credit them with being the people who came up with the idea. If everyone backs away from AR glasses then Google still has time to drop the project without losing too much face or spending as much money as they would if they took it to production. Essentially they have traded some of their potential market share for enhanced (or augmented) security.
The death of Facebook?
As a blogger, one of the questions I find most interesting is will this kill Facebook? It has been noted that Google is placed better than any other company to bring this product to the world. They have all of the services someone would need to use these glasses. If Microsoft wanted to bring out a competing product they would need to form a partnership to incorporate a social media component such as Facebook, Google has Google+. Facebook would need to team up with someone to incorporate mapping and video chat. Google has Google Maps and Google Talk etcetera and so forth. If this project does become a reality and a successful one then it may just be the boost Google+ has needed to become a serious player in the social networking game. While I’m not saying I believe this will kill Facebook I don’t believe founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t spent a few long nights thinking about the implications. After all, if you had to make a list companies that would have the financial and influential clout to take down Facebook, Google would be very near the top.
Is it possible?
Finally, I know many people are confident that we have the technological know how to make an invention this advanced but I’m sure there are also one or two people who just don’t believe we can. To those people I say, please enjoy this parting gift.
Until next time.
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