In December last year news broke via Mashable and 9to5Google that Google was working on a “top secret” eyewear project in Google X: its clandestine lab of experimentation famously spearheaded by uber-geek and co-founder Sergey Brin. Sceptics might have thought this was the early emergence of one of Google’s fabled April Fools’ jokes but yesterday’s Google+ page posting of the project confirms what might be the biggest hardware coup since the iPad — Google is going bifocal.
Slashgear has done a pretty good job with the hardware roundup if you’re interested, the crux being that users might still need to have an android machine on their person in order for the Glass to act as a HUD. I’m going to rather focus on how this product drastically enhances Google’s overall software product ecosystem and, thankfully, we don’t need to speculate. Google’s showing us exactly what’s going to be available:
Location based services like Maps and Latitude: The problem with having a phone or a tablet has been taking it out of your pocket, squinting at the glare of the screen and “taking your eyes off the road” in order to interact with your device. What becomes immediately apparent is that Location Based services are going to be enhanced by being displayed in front of the user’s eyes. This will, no doubt, lead to much more usage of the product in isolation, but also in conjunction with other products that use location as the crux of the service.
Orientating yourself is no longer going to be a problem as Glass will know which way it is facing and GPS tracking will allow users to even more efficiently find their way not only to their final destination but to friends in the area too.
Commerce products like Floorplan and Offers: As users are no longer distracted by holding up their device to reality, Google’s local-based commerce products like Floorplan and Offers are going to seamlessly integrate into the user’s journey through life. So when I encounter a green grocer that has a special on oranges, that kind of information will show up on the HUD and I will be able to effectively take advantage of that offer. Similarly, a seamless integration of Floorplan is going to enhance my in-store commerce experience by allowing me to find stores I would ordinarily have trouble in finding. This also means that Google’s primary revenue engine, Adwords, will have to concentrate on the connection between what people are looking at, and advertisements for those items – Think Adwords meets Goggles.
Entertainment products like Locker and YouTube: Being prominent in the home is something that Apple has previously done really well, but Glass could dramatically change that by being the de facto piece of media consumption hardware by projecting images to the user — this will effectively kill TV and, with technology evolving the way it does, could affect the production of many HUD hardware products we use today. Storage of the media is going to happen via Google Locker but that’s just the surface of it.
YouTube is going to see an increase not only in viewership but also uploads as Glass makes it easier than ever to post content to the cloud; and if you thought GoPro cameras are where it’s at with regards to capturing video content — imagine the increased flexibility of having your video camera right on top of your right eye and being able to seamlessly upload that to YouTube, Facebook or Google+.
Google+: A breakthrough hardware product like Glass will be a massive enabler of sharing on Google+, users will be able to easily take photos and send them to their circles; Latitude and GPS tracking will link in nicely to show location including the ability to check in and tell your circles about events happening in your area; and it could turn out to be a digital flashmob on steroids.
It’s too early to nominate Glass as a breakthrough technological advancement for mankind, but the potential that this hardware holds along with Google’s software ecosystem is staggering. The next few months might be the most exciting tech times yet.