Google’s Project Glass may still be at least two years away from a commercial release, but those lucky enough to be in attendance at Google’s I/O even this week have already been graced with the kind of hands-on testing the rest of us will have to wait until 2014 for.
Dubbed the world’s first “Augmented Reality” glasses, Project Glass represents the creation of what is essentially a wearable Smartphone with new-generation streaming technology. This was demonstrated by a group of skydivers who exited a blimp above the event hall in San Francisco, streaming video footage from their Google eyewear into the hall below.
The Glasses also feature a small display positioned in front of the user’s eye and can be controlled by voice or via the small touchpad situated on the right arm of the glasses.
With regard to features, Project Glass serves up everything you’d expect from a high-end Smartphone today, including social networking, mapping and navigation, emailing, general web searches and the viewing of media content. Battery-life is currently known to be around the six-hour mark, though Google has said this will be increased to a full day at least.
At What Price?
Perhaps the biggest catch of all right now is the fact that while these “rough” Beta versions of the glasses are far from complete, developers are being charged $1,500 for the privilege of taking a pair away to work with. Of course, if the glasses turn out to be a hugely successful endeavor the $1,500 price-tag would be a drop in the well for developers.
However, opinions have so far been mixed to say the least and there is so far little way of knowing exactly how the glasses will be received by the public.
Many of the initial tests highlighted a string of conveniences offered by Project Glass that are at present 100% unavailable to the consumer. The simple truth of the matter is that many of us have become rather lazy in a sense when it comes to looking up and retrieving information on the web.
For example, how many time have you wondered about a restaurant you’re walking past or perhaps a monument/sculpture, but found yourself unwilling to take out your phone, power up your browser and find the details?
In the case of Project Glass on the other hand, the eventual intention is to enable the wearer to simply look at the restaurant/building in question and make a single gesture to have all the info delivered right before our eyes…or our eye at least.
As such, there is a great deal of potential for Project Glass when it comes to this kind of access to information, with plenty of developers agreeing that Smartphone are beginning to show their limits in term of convenience.
The Not So Good
On the flipside however, equal numbers have argued that the idea as a whole is simply too far ahead of its time and we do not yet have a world that really needs or is ready for such glasses.
While the basic principles behind the idea may be entirely positive and promising, it is difficult to see today’s world shifting from a convenient little device in their pocket to something they actually wear on their face all day long.
What’s more, the social and indeed safety ramifications of thousands of people walking along the High Street wearing the things are mind-scrambling.
Convenience is one thing, but do we really need to be permanently attached to our Smartphones? Or to be able to take a photograph by blinking?
All in All
The Project Glass technology is indeed impressive but as a general/mass-produced replacement for Smartphones the idea is still very much in its embryonic stages. After all, if so many are constantly on the lookout for the sleekest, most elegant and discreet Smartphone they can find, what are the chances of the masses wearing theirs on their face day in and day out?