Lately, I’ve been following the development of Google Glass with a low-level sort of persistent interest. My technology antenna is tuned pretty specifically to stuff that looks like it comes out of the science fiction I consumed in my youth. People always joke “where’s my jet pack?” but I don’t want one of those. I want to live in Star Trek utterly, okay?
Google Glass – the little piece of eyewear that extends in front of your eye and shows you your smartphone display, sort of — is proper science fiction. I don’t think it’ll show up and take over, and actually I think it’s not going to last thanks to the forces of history more than anything else. I think it’s extremely interesting, though.
First, for people concerned that they’re going to become super invasive, that soon you’ll step outside and everyone will turn and tag you like hipster-dressed Borg…chill. This is the same set of fears when Bluetooth headsets appeared. Mostly what happens is, these things self-regulate over time, due to social pressures. It turns out the person having a bluetooth headset left in all the time, shouting as they walk through the mall…is actually just an asshole. they found a market, a niche, and didn’t pervade like they were supposed to.
I can see some people using Google Glass. I can also see an extremely interesting benefit of them, in that if you synced it with a video game, it could be overlaying interesting information on top of the game. That could be really cool.
What’s most interesting, though, is that Google Glass marks a big public step in interactive technology, which is away from the telephone shape. Smartphones have gotten sharper and cooler and more powerful than ever before. They weigh nothing, they take amazing pictures, and so on…but they all look about the same. They are constrained loosely by size and shape and form. Various pieces of slightly rectangular glass.
I think this is the big change we’re about to face next is not processor power or operating system changes, but is the form itself changing…and becoming less uniform. YOU might opt for the phone-shape smartthing, but your buddy opted for the watch-based on which can holographically project a display onto the tabletop (or something).
I’m being vague because I don’t know what’s coming quite next, although I have lots of non-concrete thoughts on the topic. What I predict, though, is that the Google Glass will wind up being the weird middle-child stepping stone that somehow vanishes.
There were compact discs. Then, there were these really interesting mini-discs that Sony put out for awhile that were small, light, easily rewriteable, and pretty cool (I forgot what they’re called, because if you start keeping track of dead technology names, you will begin to forget the names of your kids). Unfortunately, they came out about ten minutes before MP3 Players themselves took off in a big way, and nobody ever noticed the existence of this weird player that had happened in between.
Likewise here. The Google Glass may wind up being a very cool gadget, but one that won’t hang around. I predict it’ll get stepped over. It may be a shame, and lamentable. I can see fun uses for Google Glass. (climbing a mountain, or deep sea diving, for example. How useful to have the camera and some data right there, without having to fumble around) (in Minnesota, I would’ve loved to have been able to text my wife and talk to her when out walking, middle of a death-winter when it is painful and actually dangerous to take your gloved hands out of your pockets.)
So yeah. I think we’re nearly at the end of the smartphone phase, and we’re heading into something else which’ll seem brilliant and obvious once we know what it is. I don’t think it’s Google glass, though.
(Dear Google. Please send me a Google Glass headset so I can play with it and have opinions better)