A few weeks ago Google announced Project Glass, or Google Glasses.
A number of people I’ve spoken to are quick to mock these as another bluetooth headset. While I agree that walking around with a bluetooth headset hanging on your ear and no one on the phone is a generally stupid idea, I think that computerized glasses are something much bigger and far more important.
Humans Conforming to Machines
The typewriter was invented in 1868, and we have been conforming to its shape ever since. Our technology does incredible thing, but it still breaks our bodies. Our devices inflict all manner of pain on our backs’, necks’ and wrists’. Tablets and mobiles aren’t an improvement in this regard. They still make us crane our necks’, and strain our wrists’. This is because we must contort our bodies to work with the shape of our technology. It’s a massive design flaw and the only people who benefit are orthopedists, physical therapists, and ergonomics professionals (who make a staggering amount of money for assembling chairs and installing wrist wrests for large corporations).
Computers as Glasses
If Google Glasses are light enough, they will represent the first powerful consumer computer that conforms to human physiology, and this excites me as both a technologist and as a vertebrate.
The combination of a camera, microphone, accelerometer, GPS and small heads up display in an always-on computer could do unbelievable things (which may one day be another post).
Making These Things Magical
The trick will be giving users a ton of control over what notifications will be sent to the user’s glasses. If your eyes are pinging every time you receive an email, tweet, Facebook update, or text message you might go insane. Limiting the active functionality is how you make computerized glasses empower users instead of distracting them. Having geographically activated modes could be cool. What I mean is that the device automatically shifts it’s configuration based on where you are, and possibly who is around you.
They work differently if you’re:
- At work
- At home (and alone)
- At home (with people around)
- Walking in a place you’ve been before
- Walking in a place you’ve never been
- At a museum
- In a store
The opportunities are endless, especially if the devies can recognize who you’re with.
On a personal note, I will be quite peeved if Google neglects us prescription glasses-wearers.
These can’t come fast enough for me. Bring on the future!