How Viable is Google's Glasses Project?

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Google Glasses Change Tech Industry's Perspective

A Google employee wears a pair of Glass during Google's Developers Conference in 2012
A Google employee wears a pair of Glass during Google's Developers Conference in 2012. Mathew Sumner/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Geordi La Forge. Vegeta. For the longest time, high-tech eyewear has been the domain of science fiction stalwarts and Saiyans. With Google’s unveiling of a super sleek set of eyeglasses, however, the future of geeky eyewear just got a little bit closer. Known officially as Google’s “Project Glass,” the portable device marries the capabilities of a smartphone to a set of, well, glasses — providing an interactive heads-up display for users.

Video released by Google of how the device may potentially work reveal a wide range of capabilities. These include answering messages, setting reminders, finding locations, taking photos and video chat. For input, the wearer can use either voice commands or hand motions. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?

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Like a Smartphone or Tablet on Your Face

While many of those aforementioned features sound just like what you can do with your phone now, the interface is what really sets this particular piece of tech apart. Instead of whipping out a phone or tablet and having everything confined within those device’s screens, the Google glasses literally put everything within your view. The applications for such an interface may seem strange at first, but the potential really starts to crystallize once you see the thing in action. Based on the potential uses demoed by Google’s video concept, the interactivity and utility that can be provided by the glasses is actually quite cool.

You can have a friend buzz you and ask if you want to meet, for example, and you can simply answer back by voicing out your response — maybe throw out a time and place — and it will be sent back to the person who just contacted you. The Google glasses’ software (a variant of Android perhaps?) can also transcribe what you say in the process.

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A New Sense of Direction

Building on the previous example, once you decide where to meet, the glasses can give you directions to where you want to go, providing notifications for things like construction or transportation alerts. Besides street-based location services, the software can also be fine-tuned to map out the interiors of buildings and businesses. Google’s concept video, for example, shows the glasses providing directions to a specific section of a bookstore. Meanwhile, you can also get updates on the location of a friend you’re meeting, provided they share it with you, of course.

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Taking Photos and Checking In

The Google glasses seem particularly useful when you’re out and about or traveling. Personally, this is when I tend to take more photos and use social media, so it comes as no surprise. Just like a smartphone, you can use the glasses to take pictures and immediately share them with friends. You can also check in at a specific location such as a restaurant and share that to your circle of friends as well. See something interesting like a poster for a concert you want to check out later? You can voice out a reminder for that if you want. In a sense, the glasses almost function like a secretary.

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Still a Work in Progress

While the concept is admittedly cool, it is just that — a concept. That means details for the final version are still sketchy, and this device could end up being something totally different or not even pan out at all.

Even if it does end up just like it is demoed, there still are issues that need to be addressed. What would the impact of the device be on vision, especially for people with certain health conditions? Can it be too distracting and potentially cause accidents? Is today’s voice recognition software accurate enough to capture all speech? And will people be willing to wear these kinds of glasses for an extended period of time?

As with any new tech, such kinks will have to be worked out. For all its potential issues, however, Google’s Project Glass sounds like something with plenty of potential.