Saturday, 2 August 2014

Musings on Google Glass and AR

          I got to try on the Google Glass the other day. Sitting in my friend’s kitchen, after a lot of fiddling we 
were (just) able to get it working. Thus, I found a rosy display sitting slightly off-centre of my field of vision.

            It didn’t work too well.

            It got hot quite quickly; I wasn’t ever quite able to convince it to take a photo properly; it kept trying to email his twin brother. This being said, it was a developer kit, pre-sale and all that, so it’s not likely to work properly at just this moment. No, this isn’t a finished model, this is a demonstration of ability more than anything else. This is one of the most strident steps towards widely available reality augmentation yet taken. This is Google showing us what it can do right now, so it can hint at what it wants to do later.

            It’s one thing to carry a phone around with you in your pocket, but to have an interactive display that is visible only to you, subjectively, is an exciting (and frightening) move. The biggest problem that the Glass faces, other than the obvious hardware/software challenges any and all new tech has to confront, will be a mixture of aesthetics and social accessibility. At the moment, I fear it looks a little too…Star Trek [link]. What needs to happen is for the Glass to become less obvious, less intrusive. There will always be people who revel in obviously wearing their new toy, but wide-spread Augmented Reality will only occur when the hardware that facilitates it can be properly blended with already standing aesthetic and social conventions.

            In a word: Google Glass needs to look like a pair of glasses.

            This is the direction that technology is going to go in. It will become less-and-less obvious, more-and-more commonplace, and less distinguishable from its user. Makes you wonder what direction all this is going in, doesn't it?

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