The Next Big Thing

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With social media buzzing about the new wearable computer, and technology enthusiasts awaiting the final retail version to be released later this year, Google Glass is expected to be the “next big thing” in computing.

Google Glass is the latest advance in augmented reality that allows people to interact in the real world while browsing the Internet and living life as if through the glasses of a computer. The user has an optical head-mounted display, which presents information in a small rectangle “glass” above the right eye’s field of vision. This display presents information in a smartphone format and can be controlled through voice commands by the wearer. This means that you can wear Google Glass and use it in your every day field of vision, film or take photos of what you are seeing, or search and translate while you’re walking down the street.

Google X, the corporation’s secret facility responsible for the Google driverless car and stratosphere Internet balloons, has developed the new headset computing system. Google Glass aims to become an ubiquitous computer – a computer that appears anywhere and everywhere. Google branded the invention as an interactive computer that can “be there when you need it and [get] out of your way when you don’t.”

Google Glass will one day replace the smartphone, becoming an extension of the body rather than a pocket-bound distraction. The wants of consumers are also being heard through the Glass Explorer program of 2013, which allowed some people to test the technology.  This particular initiative meant that things like the app store and media player were added to the final list of specs for Google Glass and will be fine-tuned for distribution to the public later this year.

However, integrating technologies like this into everyday life may be more than difficult because of the computer’s unusual equipment. A user was controversially given a fine because she was driving while wearing the frameless glasses (despite them not being activated) late last year. In January, another user was questioned by police after wearing the eyewear inside a AMC cinema film screening. This particular incident has brought up questions of film piracy and how new technology like this can be monitored.

With any new technology there is potential for misuse and privacy issues. When people are walking around with their Google Glass and recording everything in their sight some people may feel uneasy, prompting the belief that the computer could be used as a perving mechanism. Google even removed an app that allowed photos to be taken when blinking and facial recognition apps will be banned from Google Play for Glass.

Google Glass has already been released to some reviewers to evaluate how the computer works before hitting the markets and so far has achieved mixed results. The battery life seems to be a big issue for current users, saying the hardware only lasts about a day, if that. When sending a photo or video it is difficult to use a simple function like MMS or email attachment. But hands-free ability to message, navigate, search and take photos makes it a piece of computing that could potentially change the world and the way we live our lives.

Originally published in BULL Magazine, February 25, 2014.

  

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