Google: Project Glass

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Google software engineer "Stephen" wearing mock-up concept of "Google Glass" glasses

MOUNTAIN VIEW, 4 April — The long time dream of Augmented Reality “heads-up displays” (HUDs) took a step out of the concept lab and toward consumer space today when Google posted “Project Glass” on Google+. Although the post included photos and video of a simulated pair of glasses this was far from a project offering, rather it was an invitation to join in a dialog with the multinational corporation about how this technology should develop and what functionalities it might include.

This image is not from Google's post, it's one that's been floating in my photo folder, but it is a nice start at thinking about the kinds of information and display we may find increasingly permanently superimposed over our reality.

Of all the new realities: Virtual, Mixed, and Augmented, heading for our cultural shores, Augmented Reality will almost certainly have the most dramatic impact. From artworks, museum installations, and culture hacks, to the prosopagnosia patient’s dream of putting game-like names over everyone in the room, to the absolutists nightmare of seeing a world subtly or entirely different from the one the person standing next to them sees.

No doubt the early models will not be as sleek and Apple-like as this concept pair, and even it seems like a pretty dorky way to sit with friends, then again, if we can adapt to a world of Bluetooth earpieces and people who somehow don't get run over even though they only look down into phones when they walk, then no doubt our cultural norms will adapt to Project Glass as well. While fashion designers have been mostly peripheral in the phone industry, they may well take a far larger role in the ultimately myriad manifestations of Project Glass

The comments on the Project Glass post are in a way disheartening. Far from the invited discussion of the parameters of our coming reality, many commenters limited themselves to “when can I buy it?” or “is this a late April Fool’s joke?” With the sexiness of the app store comes a certain return from the early 21st century user back to the role of the 20th century viewer. If we can’t engage in the deeper aspects of this dialog, we will become but voiceless users of sexy, closed devices. While the time frame for Project Glass is unknown, clearly devices like this are coming. Computing has already moved from mainframe to desktop to laptop to mobile device. It seems unlikely that holding a phone in the air to see the Yelp ratings of the places on the street can be more than a transitory moment on the march to ubiquitous, HUD-based experience. Indeed, years ago Larry Page already said that Google would one day be a brain implant, that you’d think a question, and know the answer.

In a discussion today about mixed-reality WoW videos, Ironyca and I pondered the interfaces of the future: while Google’s video shows a sleek, minimal “Googly” interface, no doubt AR skin design will explode presently and you will be able to skin your corporate board meeting with WoW or Crysis 3 or Farmville graphics.

Google’s Project Glass Post

Discussion with Ironyca about mixed-reality WoW experiences and graphic overlays

More posts about Augmented Reality here on I Rez

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6 Responses to “Google: Project Glass”

  1. Ze Moo
    2012/04/05 at 15:28 #

    Oh, wait! Now I get it!
    This is not just a video, it is a machinima!
    It must have been recorded in a very high resolution, uber fast rezzing Google Lively+ 3.0 viewer on the NYC simulator!

    Impressive!

    😉

  2. Vaneeesa Blaylock
    2012/04/05 at 16:39 #

    hahaha, yes, it’s a machinima! Pretty impressive frame rate, eh! Amazing servers!

    Yes buying the book is pretty funny. And yes the paper posters… or for that matter… signs on buildings… signs on roads… how high a % of people will have to have Glasses before our bankrupt governments decide to stop all signage and just rely on AR?

    Today they say “if you’re not on Facebook, you don’t exist” But when you’re the 1% not-AR, not only will you not exist, you won’t even “see the signs on the road.”

    I imagine governments, if they aren’t too bankrupt, will try to wait a long time, but businesses might stop bothering with physical signs sooner.

    Interesting future! ….. I feel a “MINORITY REPORT” performance work bubbling up! 🙂

  3. Ze Moo
    2012/04/05 at 22:23 #

  4. Vaneeesa Blaylock
    2012/04/10 at 06:01 #

    And here’s NMA.TV’s take on Project Glass:
    http://youtu.be/DgnU91Mvb-s