Last week I was fortunate enough to get to go to an event at EPIC studios called “Engaging Customers” as an intern on behalf of Norwich Business School – a set of lectures and a workshop by some of Norwich’s brightest business people. The talks ranged from King of Shaves and social media to online checkouts and customer service. However, by far the most interesting part for me was the workshop taken by ‘Yodeley’ Founder Duncan Johnson, who discussed his own use of social media. It was touch and go for the first few minutes, but after he mentioned Google Project Glass, I was hooked.
The concept of Google Glasses absolutely fascinates me – but it provokes a number of questions as to whether we have reached a point where we are trying to be TOO clever (and yes, that is completely possible). In case you haven’t heard of Google Glasses, I’ll explain it here:
The main idea is to have glasses which offer a completely augmented reality and brings up information on the screen relevant to what you are currently looking at. For example, if you are looking at a house for sale, then layered over the top will be the asking price, the details of the sale, the name of the agent etc.
If you are looking at the tubes and there are delays, then these warnings could be layered over the top of your vision in real time.
Most scary of all, I think, is looking at a stranger in the street and automatically pulling up their social media websites – their Facebook, Twitter, professional profiles. Within seconds you could know their email address, their relationship status (creepy), what they had for lunch that day and even their address if they have the stupidity to put it on the internet. Then use the GPS which is attached to the glasses (allowing you to get travel updates and plan routes) to connect to their GPS/phone, pin your prey and voila – within days you know pretty much everything about them. Simples.
Am I the only one finding this frightening?
While Google Goggles already exists as an app which searches the net based on photos and scans, it will be the production of Google Glasses in early 2014 which will get the tech-addicts in a frenzy. Basically, Google aims to make wearable computing mainstream, and so the Project Glass involves a pair of ‘smart’ glasses which have a battery in the frame and a little heads up display at the front.
At the moment the screen is still not transparent, but apparently by the time early production comes around, the LCD screen in front of your eyes will be transparent – allowing you to see what’s in front of you, and also layer computer messages over the top. Eventually, a microphone will be installed and motion sensors will allow you to flick through input by tilting your head (something which I’m sure will not be difficult to master, but will make you look like you have a major twitch if using it in public).
Although the marketing for this new project is well done, unless a major makeover occurs and renders me as attractive as the woman pictured below, they will have to do a lot to convince me that the addition of white plastic non-glasses to my face, as well as suspect eye movements and twitches, will do little more than make me look like a crazy person – instead of someone gifted with the ‘next big thing’.
Google have released a small taster trailer as part of their marketing campaign, and I must admit, it is very well done. It highlights all the positives and avoids all the possible flaws (which of course, is what successful marketing does).
However, while watching it, I could see all the moments in which something ‘else’ could be said. For example, how is the ‘useful’ information and the ‘useless’ information (pop-ups that we are all lucky enough to encounter on most webpages) policed? If at the moment we can only expect from Google what they already offer us then we are in for a lot of spam.
Most likely we will be required to pay for the luxury of removing spam from our vision.
LITERALLY from our vision.
I mean, no-one wants to be driving their car past a billboard and suddenly be retinally assaulted by the details for that advert – and 12 other possible adverts which bear some relation and we may possibly be interested in.
Just like normal surfing the web then.
Motorway + sudden obscurity = never a good situation.
Luckily, I don’t have to go on – these brilliant parodies say it all (watch them if you can bear it!):
Project Dangerous Glasses
Project Glass – Cheating Wife Parody
and my personal favourite (and I think the most realistic):
Google Project Glasses – ADmented Reality
Fair enough, technology up until now has been impressive and in most examples, a necessary step. But now, I personally feel like we are dipping our toes in dangerous waters. If not for the possible technological glitches, then certainly for the social implications of such a device.
These glasses encourage a laziness, the likes of which has never been seen before.
Sure, it is an incredible achievement and Google – we bow to your mightiness *pats head*, but perhaps this is technology for the sake of it – and we are starting to lose our humanity to these blips and codes.
We can always use technology to add to our experience of reality, but replacing reality entirely with an augmented world seems too far – and unnecessary.
I’m sure that there will be just as many people who opt out of this new development as will opt in (for a cool £500 on first sale) but the scary thing is that in order to stay in the game, we are being left little choice but to comply.
Unless you dedicate your life to being as obscure as possible, there will ALWAYS be some trace of you on the web.
And now everyone can see it.
Literally, see it.
Over your face in the street.
This is not an evolution based on choice – this is potentially a gross breach of privacy. Not only can others access your information without your permission – but in the same way that Google can track your web history, they could also record everything that you do/see through those glasses. Never mind surveillance cameras – this would bring a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘eye witness’.
And so where does that leave us?
I’ll answer – in a world where everything is done for us.
Home food deliveries, ordered with a twitch of the head.
Virtual conversations leaving no need for actual ones.
Forget being unsociable by using an iPod – try screening a film over your eyes so you don’t have to interact with anyone, ever.
Get annoyed when someone answers a phone call in the middle of your conversation? Well now get used to people simply zoning out and going glassy eyed on you as another advertisement shoots across their line of vision, or that really important text message arrives in their virtual inbox and pings over where your still talking mouth used to be.
No need to actually go for a walk to see the sights or have a laugh with friends while lost in a new city – Facebook chat, GPS satellite navigation, Google Maps and live streaming will take care of all that for you.
No need to even lift your arms to take a picture – blink exaggeratedly and it will probably do that for you too.
We are in danger of simplifying and intertwining everybody’s lives to such an extent that there is no mystery left, and no challenge. Nothing to do for ourselves, and a stunting of human interaction to such an extent that our children are unable to even speak to each other properly.
Quote me on this: the rate of depression and isolation will soar.
Those who talked about the human race ending through technology turning against us were wrong. Instead, technology will work exactly the way we want it to, and through progression and eradication, will simply replace us.
And these glasses will most likely make you look like a dork. Sorry.
But of course, this is just my opinion – and I must add, a very biased one. So what do you think? I would really love a great debate to come from this. I think it’s something which we need to talk about.