I was dismissive when I first heard about ‘smart glasses.’ It sounded like innovation for innovations sake. I wanted to know the reason why wearing a computer on my face would trump my current flow that involves carrying a supercomputer in my pocket.
The simple thought that converted me was this scenario: Imagine having a real-time, fluid conversation with someone who spoke a language that you didn’t understand at all. Imagine wearing a pair of glasses that had the processing power and ability to relay real-time translations of what the other person was saying. Imagine the person across from you having access to the same power.
This is revolutionary. This is the benefit of computers WITHOUT interfaces. It’s not about the form factor. It’s about second-nature computing. It’s not about automating tasks to justify processing power. It’s about delivering real-world, never possible before value.
That is how you change the world. By allowing people to do what has never been done, and making that power available to all. We will all win in that kind of scenario.
My car is my driver.
I’m just the DJ.
I’m riding shotgun.
In this sofa on wheels.
I wish it could fly.
But I guess that’s a few years out.
Wait, where is this thing taking me.
My iPod has wheels now.
I’m riding around.
I’m mindlessly tweeting while it drives me.
I miss being responsible.
That is a lie.
I look at the other passengers.
Texting, eating, drinking while their car drives.
My car is never drunk.
I texted that.
Red light, green light.
Red fish, blue fish.
Search engine on wheels.
Meta crawling the interstates.
Geo-tagging fast food joints.
Liking the malls.
Door to door service.
I never know where my car goes while I’m inside.
People are missing the true innovation behind Google’s Project Glass. The innovation is not the fact that technology will become wearable. It doesn’t matter that the form factor is a pair of glasses. The problem Google’s goggles is solving is one of smoothness. Right now, we need to proactively seek out information. When we get an email, we can be notified, but we still need to reach into our pockets to pull out our smart phones. By creating top of mind technology that is more integrated with how we behave, we will be able to get information more seamlessly than we do now. Not that it is an incredible hassle to pull a phone out of a pocket, but Google Glass and other wearable pieces of tech offer us an advancement of letting us know the information we want to know, exactly when we want to know it. It’s a delivery device. It is a fraction of a percentage more convenient. I think the strength of Google’s glasses will come from it’s ability to tether us between our other devices and become a seamless delivery system of the information we care about. Personally, I’m not a fan of the glasses form factor. I would find that too distracting. I’ll opt for the technology when Apple puts it out as a watch.
Technology has become a very organic field. The output of the technology industry used to be very clearly defined. Computers. Televisions. CD players. But if you cut into our current era and look at the cross-section of technology, you will find it very hard to come up with 3 or 4 single function buckets. In 2012, the questions is becoming ‘what doesn’t come with technology?’
We have super computers in our pockets that we mainly use to play Tetris and mass communicate what we had for breakfast. Our shoes have microchips in them. We have watches that get cable. Clothes are GPS enabled. There are no structures in place to keep technology from getting even more messy and indefinable.
So when people ask ‘what’s next?’ I’m inclined to say, better applications of multi-technology across a variety of forms. The iPhone proved that one device could be capable of doing EVERYTHING. It can handle every kind of media that man has ever invented. Both in playback and production: audio, video, text, and the Internet. The entertainment and business applications that can be harnessed with this kind of portable horsepower are infinite.
Where does ‘wearable technology’ come into play here?
Innovations like Google Glass, until proven otherwise, will simply exist as alternate forms of the iPhone. The iPhone is the widget that lets you do anything, from anywhere. Right now, Google Glass might theoretically be more practical in a handful of specific situations (jumping out of a plane and taking creepy stealth photos by simply blinking at your subjects) but the idea of ‘smart glasses’ has yet to include a layer of functionality that couldn’t be achieved by a smart phone.
Until there is a compelling reason why wearable technology is an evolution and not simply a geekier alternative to the smart phone, it will remain on the outside of the mainstream.