If you thought the invasion of tech was already a bit overwhelming, wait till you see what Google Glass can do.

There’s this concept in philosophy which talks about the possibility of existing in multiple universes that we consistently experience. You might subscribe to the theory or disregard it. But would you really turn your attention away if you were told that we are inching closer to at least a version of it?

What is Google Glass?

As with most things Google, the Glass is a very simple interface dealing with complex things. It’s a device that aides augmented reality - a concept that was first put to use in fighter planes to help pilots win battles. The tech is now integrated in a device that people walking around town would be able to sport.

Google Glass looks like a pair of regular glasses but that’s where the similarity ends. The interface on Google Glass updates you on everything that a device like your smartphone can - emails, reminders, meetings or the weather in your city. The only difference being all this will be conveyed to you right in front of your eyes, without you having to pull out a device from your pocket.

What can it do for you?

By the looks of it, the Glass will be compatible with all Google apps such as Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube and so on. So, say you are on a road trip, driving with Google Glass on, you don’t have to turn to your GPS device or your smartphone to check the map. A simple swipe of the finger on the touch-sensitive chip mounted on the Glass will do the trick. If you attend a Bruce Springsteen concert, your friends won’t have to suffer the extremely noisy and patchy video that you would have recorded on your smartphone.

You can just don the Glass and they’ll be able to see what you do live, not unlike a video conference.

Google has also designed the Glass to be able to understand colloquial voice commands. So, you need not raise your hand and be swiping all the time to interact with the device. In case you want to snap a picture though Google Glass, just ask it to “take a photo”. If you want to send a message, just say it out aloud and it’ll be done.

Not to forget, the device will be deeply integrated with apps such as Google Search, Google Translate, Google Places and so on, hence any possible query or command you might have will definitely not go unanswered. Popular apps such as Path, Evernote and New York Times are already on board with the Glass interface.

Privacy concerns

As a pre-emptive effort, a bar in Seattle, Washington has already banned Google Glass inside its premises. Why would that be?

The fact that anyone who sports Google Glass can take pictures, record videos and retain these details for posterity - without the knowledge of the subject - is slightly unnerving. You can even be scanned to have your identity, social networks, place or work etc revealed and that definitely puts people at a very vulnerable position. These possibilities have raised a lot of privacy and security concerns both among individuals as well as enterprises.

Apart from security concerns, there’s the possibility of extreme distraction during usage as there’s constantly a screen hovering at the corner of your eye. While Google argues it has taken steps to ensure the virtual screen is not too invasive in your field of vision, there’s no guarantee that you won’t crash into another car or go off the road while consulting virtual Maps on the Glass.

Considering it’s going to be one of the very few wearable devices that’s going to hit the markets soon, our guess is that it might not really be affordable tech.

Also, a lot of details about the product are still unclear. Will it support 3G as well as Wi-Fi? Does it come with internal memory storage? What’s the battery life on the device like? What kind of third-party apps, including heavy-duty games, can be run on the device?

While we definitely have to wait for at least a couple of months to know the answers to these questions, Google has definitely put its target audience’s main query to rest. Geeks, rest assured. Google Glass will be able to adapt to prescription lenses as well.

“The Glass design is modular, so you will be able to add frames and lenses that match your prescription. Although the frames won’t be ready for the Explorer Edition’s release, hang in there - you can expect to see them later this year.” a blog post by the company read.

mahananda.bohidar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 14, 2013)
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