1) Google is obviously terrified that being seen wearing Glasses will brand you as terribly nerdy. (Compare the 'gargoyle' stigma in /Snow Crash/.) So to control the early perceptions they're doing a heavily-publicised early release to some carefully-selected mobile-phone-company-commercial beautiful people. The ideal candidate will be taking photos for /National Geographic/ while cave-diving for her Rhodes Scholarship. She will also be rather attractive, and not a wearer of prescription glasses. (Compare http://www.stevenlevy.com/index.php/05/08/the-sophie-choice . Courting Steven Levy seems to have turned out pretty poorly for Google, eh?)
2) Glasses looks very promising, but isn't it a bit of a stretch to call what it does Augmented Reality? AR more or less implies a HUD, or some other means of superimposing CGI on what you see of the real world. But the http://www.google.com/glass/start/how-it-feels/ video seems to suggest that instead Glasses takes a "picture-in-picture" approach, and the screen's transparency seems to serve mainly to make it feel less oppressive, and to minimise the amount it obstructs your vision when the whole screen is not in use. Goggles http://www.google.ie/mobile/goggles/ is more of a true AR system. (I'm not suggesting this is a bad decision: in light of the current problems with head-tracking http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/abrash/raster-scan-displays-m... and precise geolocation it seems like a good one.)
I'm convinced that perceived nerdiness is a hazard for Google. I will accept that perceived douchiness is another one. I'm sure that the marketers are standing by to reject any application that even faintly suggests that you might use the Glasses to photoblog your dinner.
I think I disagree.. The rise of the "brogrammer" is proof that nerd culture is not only on the rise, but actually revered as the new "cool".
Look at television for example.. Asthon Kutcher is the highest paid actor on TV, and he basically stars as himself on Two and a Half men. Ashton is a product evangelist + angel investor. He makes nerds look awesome
Another example from (popular culture/TV) is Big Bang Theory. "Toward the end of its run, Friends was topping out around 20 million viewers, meaning Big Bang is now standing shoulder-to-shoulder with one of network TV's biggest and longest comedy successes."
Movies like The Social Network + jOBS will further push the perceived nerdiness for Google into a good thing, not a negative thing. Our culture is shifting.
It hasn't shifted that far. Geek culture itself is still considered "uncool", even in silicon valley. When popular culture uses the term "Geek" they really mean "Hipster." It's the aesthetics that are considered cool, not the substance.
The shift you're perceiving is this: people with geeky hobbies and professions are now allowed the opportunity to be cool. That wasn't an option before the dot com boom. Thanks to the mass amounts of wealth and resources geeks have generated, we've been allowed a seat at the table, provided we behave ourselves. IE: no segways, no VR goggles, no LARP.
That distinction is exactly why Google is taking the tactic they are - they want the glass associated more with Apple and less with Segway.
The new "nerd chic" is real enough, but there's still a line most people are not comfortable crossing, and not respectful of others crossing, and I think Google is in danger of finding Glasses to be on the other side of that line. Even if that isn't actually the case, I think it's fairly clear that Google fears it could be, and the company is trying its best to prevent that.
So the first thought which came to your mind after going through the Glass site is how Google is terrified about the appearance of people in those glasses!
You said nothing about the tremendous opportunity this brings in terms of making your lives easier by providing you with the right information at the right time, by recording the key moments of your life easily, by augmenting your vision/view of the world with tons of fact based data etc.
And what you saw was how bad this looks. Some people are hard to satisfy..
UPDATE: Actually, I've just come across this Steven Levy article in Wired that illustrates the perception challenge nicely. http://www.wired.com/business/2012/04/epicenter-google-glass... On the LEFT: how Google wants you to think of Glasses. On the RIGHT: how you think of Glasses. And again: this was a Wired article, by Steven Levy.
In Korea and Japan, people wear glasses to look cool, and they are cheap. People who don't need glasses either just wear glasses with either no-prescription or no lenses. It's not nerdy. It's cool. Think jewelry. Not utility.
> AR more or less implies a HUD, or some other means of superimposing CGI on what you see of the real world.
I realize that not having grown up on Snow Crash makes me a bit of an outsider to this, but... yeah, I have no idea what makes you think this is a requirement. My conception of AR actually looks more like Tony Stark's holographic interactable blueprints in Avengers, rather than his inside-the-suit HUD which I just consider... a HUD, and not very interesting.
Every time I see Google Glass I think "Oh, cool" and then I realize that what I want/need in everyday life is de-augmented reality (i.e. just vanilla reality). I've already got devices buzzing etc. to get my attention for "important thing".
The argument for things like Glass is that they will make the merging of reality and technology seamless which could have great advantages. I fear, however, that it just means I'll have a thing right in front of my face asking for my attention.
The $1B idea with Google Glass is not the technology of putting it in front of your eyes etc., it's figuring out the software that filters down what's shown to the stuff you actually want/need. I don't think we've done that successfully in other domains yet.
I see these things as a natural progression. The Internet is so important that we are becoming connected tighter with each revolultion.
When I first started using the Internet, it was using an unreliable 56k on a large desktop. I had to visit one spot in my house to connect.
After this, I got my first laptop. This was great because now I can connect any where in my house. By that time, I had broadband do always on, faster and way more reliable.
Fast forward again and I got my first smart phone. Now I can connect pretty much anywhere (given a decent signal) just by pulling my phone out of my pocket.
Google Glass means I won't have to pull it out of my pocket anymore. Now my life will be constantly enhanced at every moment by great hackers, just like it has been enhanced in increasing amounts since I first touched the Internet.
No, I cannot say my life has been enhanced by those types of applications.
I'm talking stuff we take for granted like email, the web, word processing. These things have enhanced my life. The web alone opens a whole library of information and I am actually thankful because without it I'd know only a fraction of what I currently know.
Similar revolutions will happen and I fully believe something like Google Glass will be the medium.
Just as a thought, look at everything you use computers for now and think what it'd be like if they wasn't there? Even the most basic tasks should be considered.
Google Glass means I won't have to pull it out of my pocket anymore. Now my life will be constantly enhanced at every moment by great hackers, just like it has been enhanced in increasing amounts since I first touched the Internet.
Try this for enhancement: shut everything off and talk to a human being, be it the local bagel shop owner or a homeless person. If I had to bet your life isn't being enhanced, it's being drained away, app by app. How many coffee cup pics must one post online? It gets boring after a while, and, imo, it's a sign of depression and a feeling of inferiority.
I've lived my entire sentient life with a cable or faster Internet connection. I spend virtually all of my time that is not spent going out with friends, eating lunch with colleagues, or having alone time with my partner on my laptop, Xbox, or Nexus S. I am, seemingly, what you fear.
I cannot think of a single reason why it would be more productive for me to talk to a homeless person instead of doing any of the things I do on computing devices on a daily basis. I don't think you can name any, beyond straw men like "you're wasting your time looking at pictures of coffee cups on the Internet." Because my life is constantly mediated by technology, I can tell you with very good precision that of the 8,760 hours in 2011, I only wasted 939 of them (and most of that was playing video games over the summer -- it's arguable that I'm not wasting time by experiencing the story of Mass Effect the same way I wouldn't be wasting my time experiencing the story of The Hunger Games, but books are more high status, so I'll give myself incentive to prefer them over video games).
If uploading pictures of coffee cups to the Internet is what you do with most of your time on computers, I feel genuinely sorry for you, and I hope that you can find a better hobby. I don't think that talking to random people you run into during your day is that hobby, though. Have you tried this app ShuffleMyLife? It might give you better things to do outdoors than try to start conversations with shopkeepers.
The intuitive response to this is an angry rant about the definition of normality and your mandate to define it. Despite your derogatory, I empathise with your sentiment. I don't believe that recording every aspect of your life, or being integrated with the Internet will make me a happier person.
What I am really looking forwards to, is being able to lean back and read or watch video's without having to hold anything, or sit in a big room designed for the purpose.
Is the sense of superiority you feel towards tedks worth more than that?
Most CCTV cameras are private and not monitored. You install them and have them record on a loop - old data is automatically erased to make room for new data. When something bad happens (an accident, a robbery, etc) recording is stopped and the existing data is handed over to relevant parties.
This is far less problematic than an omnipresent, monitored, shared, catalogued and indexed in perpetuity, video system.
It does seem to rely heavily on picking at low hanging fruit. Flight times are important if you are in an airport, but its hardly life changing. My hunch is that it will be made by a hundred thousand small niche uses rather than a single billion dollar idea. This could be completely transcendent, and maybe needs to be to cut through the sensible aversion to this kind of tech.
I think the biggest application for Glasses is hands-free, head-up, relatively inconspicuous outdoor on-foot turn-by-turn navigation. That is the nearest thing you can get on-foot to the pleasure of in-car turn-by-turn navigation, with no need to walk around holding a mobile phone screen in front of your face. (The same kind of navigation indoors would be almost as wonderfully useful - especially for finding your way to the bloody airport departure gate! - but I assume that neither airport interiors nor v1 Google Glasses are ready to provide that today.) Combine that with the secondary application of convenient, hands-free, heads-up, relatively inconspicuous first-person photo and video recording and I think you have two pretty attractive and non-niche uses for Glasses to add to the long tail of more specialised applications. I'd say that the things most likely to hold back Glasses are price, privacy concerns (the wearer's and others'), possible social stigma, and fear of being mugged.
(You could do a decent poor-man's approximation to Glasses' turn-by-turn navigation if you had a Bluetooth handset that did head tracking and the right software for your smartphone: you'd have the audio navigation directions in your ear, plus a turn-by-turn map display on the phone screen to glance at when you wanted to. I haven't heard of any such system though.)
Flight times at the airport are a great example. I don't need to know the time of my flight, but I do need to know if it's been delayed or if the gate changes. I don't need to know those things I already know them in some other way.
I was about to disagree with you, but I realized the real problem I wanted to address was the importance of context.
Text messages from an airline aren't great because by default they have the same "ding" as random jokes and "hey what's up." messages.
But Google Glasses could easily start having the exact same problem.
We need software to be trained with more intelligent context awareness — hey, Nathaniel put his phone on silent, but he is at the airport and here is a notification about a delayed flight, so the phone should vibrate a little bit to make sure he sees it.
We're getting better at this, as an industry: I walk into the Apple Store, it asks me to check into my genius appointment. If I walk into the movie theater, my phone pulls up my ticket as a QR code. But we still have a long way to go, and I think it's a far more interesting and important problem than whether the information shows up on my glasses or my phone.
Absolutely agree. Perhaps what is lacking is an effective feedback loop. When Google Display an incorrect search listing it is obvious based on user click patterns and can be factored into the algorithm. If Google don't tell you that your train is delayed there is no feedback loop.
> I've already got devices buzzing etc. to get my attention for "important thing".
Isn't that the point though? Glass should require far less of your attention than these devices because it eliminates the need to reach into your pocket, pull it out (your device that is), swiping/unlocking, having to look down, needing a free hand or two, etc. Even something as simple as being able to scroll through my email/G+/twitter/IM hands free would be revolutionary for me and make them well worth wearing, as long as there's a gesture or gyroscope or subvocalization input mode of some sort so I don't need to give it constant voice/touch commands. It'd be well worth looking like an idiot nodding every few seconds or whatever.
Humans can walk and talk at the same time. We cannot walk and read at the same time.
We can drive and talk at the same time. We cannot drive and read at the same time.
To me the conclusion is obvious: pervasive wearable computing must talk to us, not show us things, to be useful. More specifically it must talk with us--understand what we want, when we want it, and give it to us.
I agree with you that the hardware is nothing compared to the complexity of the decision-making software. I think it is probably a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity, but it's so hard that no one company will solve it suddenly enough to corner the market.
Uh. What about superimposed maps on roads for example? What about product information just being there when you look at that in the super market (and whether it's cheaper somewhere on the internet). Or its nutrition information/health hazards etc. ! There are thousands of applications of pervasive wearable devices which 'shows us things'.
Is the same thing as people trying to buy a Ferrari. Demand vastly exceeds supply so they will have no problem finding people that will think nothing of spending that amount of money. And frankly speaking $1,500 is not a lot of money. If you are poor or stingy I guess it is but at this point in time they are not targeting cheapskates.
Broke and programming everyday on a project I'm working on. And with no income for quite some time. I'm down to two sets of pants and some of my clothes have holes. My sneakers certainly have plenty of holes. My office is the local library. Life is great!
Are you implying that they should have priced it higher? I mean, if we're going to go by "what we paid to produce it" rather than "what people previously paid for it", it should probably start at $10k.
Couple that with the cost of getting yourself to one of the required meeting locations...which can easily run somebody as much as the cost of the device. Some of us do live in flyover country. Though that's probably our fault and not Google's ;-).
Oh man, I wish I was in the US, I've been raving about glass for a while. I really think it opens up new doors.
One way is combing augmented reality and social networking with Glass. There are a number of cool things that come of this.
One is being able to look at someone also using the Glass app and being presented with their profile, plus options to send messages or view more information. It may even be possible even if they don't have Glass using a combo of geolocation and facial recognition. The most exciting bit is sending a message between two glass users because it'd be pretty much like telepathy.
When the 'internet of thing' comes about, it may even be posdible to control all your various devices without lifting a finger. I could look at my kettle from across the room and flick it on!
There are tonnes of possibilities and I think, especially when it's on a contact lens, it will make what's currently considered magical (telepathy, psychokinesis, etc) a reality, just like the plane removed the magic from human flight.
I think wearable computing opens up many exciting doors and the two thoughts above only scratch the surface of the possibilities I imagine.
In fact, I feel so strongly about ot I'd emigrate to the US just to get my hands on this awesome tech. I need to get onto it ASAP.
You're not actually anonymous in crowds, because everyone can see your face. It's just that social conventions lead us to not bother one another. They work because we're not anonymous...if I bother you, you can immediately bother me to the same degree.
The ickiness with Google Glass is the asymmetry of information--one person basically stalking another, aided by a networked computer.
At least you'd know they were doing it by the ridiculous electronic glasses they're wearing.
Why do your find the idea of turning on your kettle from across the room by looking at it, exciting? It is because it makes you feel like you've gained a new, awesome, magical power? But all you did was turn a kettle on. I wouldn't exactly consider that a "new door".
This device has zero appeal to me. Actually, probably less than zero.
If Google could develop a technology that would clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- _that_ would impress me. I wouldn't even mind so much that it was covered in targeted ads.
> Why do your find the idea of turning on your kettle from across the room by looking at it, exciting?
That use case is exciting because it'd be a phenomenally useful device for the elderly or bedridden. Being able to see who is at the door without having to get up and look through the peephole, then letting them in if you know them; answering the phone without getting up; generally just operating your house's devices without undue movement really would be quite something.
That's true, there are good use cases for it, and similar technologies, in this domain. If the commenter to whom I was replying prefaced their excitement by explaining they were elderly or bedridden, I likely wouldn't have asked that (not-entirely-rhetorical) question -- it would have seemed reasonable to me. From the context I got the impression (possibly mistaken) that they were able-bodied, though.
That's fair enough. Let me put it another way: the thought of turning my kettle on by looking at it isn't that exciting to me. The extended idea of someone turning a kettle or other connected device on, is.
You're missing the fact that the only way to interface with it is by voice. If you want to send a message to another person, you need to speak it out loud. If that person is nearby, it's not really telepathy, it's just talking.
Google glass isn't going to get a bunch of apps or options, because nobody is going to go around saying things like 'ok glass scroll left', 'ok glass install/open instagram', 'ok glass show me his profile'.
Yes, the interface needs to be improved/replaced before what I'm talking about is practical, even if it's so you can whisper rather than speak at normal volume. Personally, I do not think using voice as an interface is the correct way forward with these devices at all.
I haven't many ideas for this, my best guess would be using the eye to control it but then that has many challenges - how would we click?
"Explorers will each need to pre-order a Glass Explorer Edition for $1500 plus tax and attend a special pick-up experience, in person, in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles." Interesting. Now we gladly apply for the chance to pay a company $1500 plus tax for a product.
There still has to be a barrier to entry, or everybody and their mother would apply, and just leave the glasses sitting around on the table when they got bored with them. The price tag will weed out all but those serious about developing for glass and few peeps with disposable incomes.
I'm guessing that they made a finite number of this version because they'll be making a lot of improvements and new versions in the future. In order to make those improvements they need lots of data about how people use the product. People are more likely to use a product a lot if they paid $1500 for it than if they got it for free.
It'll work just fine with "famous" people. All it takes is enough digital audio. I think newsreader/journalist types will have the worst of it, and unfortunately hype has to flow past them, so there are going to be PR issues.
I could imagine entire soundboards being created to spoof people into viewing internet shock sites, etc.
For example, lets pick on Leo Laporte, because I like him and he's famous in the tech journalism community. He must have thousands of hours, tens of thousands of hours, of digital audio free for use on the net. So all you need is a simple audio editor and an audio player to play the spliced commandline and you can spoof him. So at any time in his long recorded career has Leo ever said the words "girls" and "one" and "two" and "image" and "cup" and "google" and "search"? Well, I think he could be shock site'd pretty well with this technique. Not just shock sites, but rickrolls would be funny too.
If they're smart, they'll pick up the bone vibrations from the wearer. You know how your voice sounds different when you hear it back from a recording? They should be able to detect when the wearer is saying something in the same way you hear yourself when talking.
I saw someone in a store with those glasses and I had to say I felt a bit weirded out by the thought they could be recording things. Does it indicate to other people if it is recording? These things are going to run into some social issues I think.
You're sort of in public. You're just living your everyday life. The person recording doesn't know you; probably has no interest in you. Why is it a problem that they're recording? (Note that I'm not saying you're wrong! Or that you should change your mind!)
Candid photography has provided some fantastic photographs over the years. There's some amazing social commentary. With a bit of luck we'll get something similar (as well as petabytes of junk) from people recording everyday life.
It's a problem because while I don't expect privacy in public, I do expect my presence to be transitory and under my control. The two seconds I spend scratching my arse walking down the street are forgotten by all who saw it instantly, but not if that moment is immortalised in flash memory. When my wife's skirt blows up in an autumn breeze she gets embarrassed, I get amused and the van drivers get titillated. We've all forgotten it minutes later; now some passing pervert with terminator glasses can grab a freeze frame and share her misfortune with the world.
Henri Cartier-Bresson didn't have his camera up to his eye constantly. By the time he'd reacted to her skirt billowing up and readied his camera she'd have yanked it down again.
I feel like someone should invent a directed emp pulse weapon so I can disable these permanently whenever I see them. What a horrible future awaits us. I hope Google glass fails. I realize this is inevitable, but I'm not ready, and neither is my family.
This has already been happening for years, though in a more curated/artistic way.
Google up the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Elliott Erwitt, Bruce Gilden, Daido Moriyama, Garry Winogrand, Nan Goldin, etc.
As a street shooter myself, I've observed that most people's reactions to being photographed is somewhere between ambivalent and happy - the HN crowd's attitudes re: being photographed is decidedly non-mainstream.
Though I'll admit, there is a difference between being photographed with reason (some action, your clothes, your location, whatever), even by a stranger, than being photographed as part of a kitchen-sink recording activity.
> As a street shooter myself, I've observed that most people's reactions to being photographed is somewhere between ambivalent and happy
I never take photos on people on the streets, I'm only interested in taking photos of buildings in my city. Even so, I've been verbally assaulted because of that at least 3 times (apparently it's ok to threaten some skinny dude with beating him up and swearing on his mother if you see him taking photos of dilapidated buildings with his phone).
Yes, I do not live in Silicon Valley nor in any similar cocoon-like area as those advertised in Google's presentation videos, I live in an Eastern European capital city of 2.5 million people, but hey, we're not that big of a market anyway.
I don't live in the Valley either ;) AFAIK NYC is not particularly cocoon-like, nor SF or Toronto where I've also done a lot of shooting.
There are strategies to shooting on the street - you have a tremendous amount of control over how people react to your activities. How you project your presence can be the difference between being bullied and harassed vs. being left alone or even being assisted.
Without denying that it's "neat", I'd like to be on record as looking askance at the fact that a company that makes >90% of revenue from advertising wants to sell me a tiny screen to put an inch in front of my eye.
Though Google's a big company, they still have bottom lines to meet. I think the key word in your comment is "mostly", and how much that means to the average Glass user. What you think of as "mostly free" may be preciously expensive to someone else.
I wonder, when this becomes mainstream, what is going to start happening on the roads? It is already quite dangerous with some drivers texting/talking on their phones while driving. So now they will have yet another thing to look at (other than the road they're on)...
Not saying glass is a bad thing, I think it's really great. Just wonder how (or if) this is going to affect the road safety.
I think it could either enhance or diminish road safety. It all comes down to the person using the technology, though.
The sort of person who would use something like Glass to use GPS or a HUD (speedo, tach, clock?) without taking their eyes off of the road will likely be a more safe driver. HUDs have been credited with enhancing aviator safety; this could bring such innovations to the road.
The sort of person who looks for distractions anyway will now be distracted by Glass. I'm not sure if this will constitute new distractions or a new way to consume old ones, though.
Generally the more crooked the police department, the more violently they react to being filmed in action. Where I live they're fairly lawful so they kinda laugh and/or cooperate (pose for the camera, would your kids like some free baseball cards, etc). On the other hand, there are less civilized places on the coasts where you'll get pretty well beaten and jailed and your camera destroyed if you film corrupt cops, even if by some miracle they're not breaking the law at that moment.
Aside from corruption, this is going to be a pretty big issue for "drive by recording", both sides of every little drunk driving traffic stop and minor fender bender (oh and worse situations too) will probably want your recording data, even if its just a few seconds outta the corner of your eye. Even if its a complete waste of time, if its a high enough crime you'll have the criminal system going bonkers with you in the middle. I could see this affecting road safety in a self censorship manner. Oh no a crash, better not look that way or I'll get dragged into court as a witness for the zillionth time, whoops just crashed into the ambulance that pulled out while I was intentionally not watching the accident.
The best useful purpose for headmounted displays is lifelogging. A reasonably high definition stream with audio and video of everything you see during a waking day (call it 16 hours) is only about a hundred gigabytes.
There's no reason not to do it, at this point. Imagine if we could go back and look at the lifelogs of historical figures. In order to achieve that, you basically have to archive everyone, since you don't know in advance if an individual is going to be important later in life.
People complain about the panopticon, but I'm interested in the opposite.
must be a US resident... well thanks google, dont you think that foreigners may also be interested, you are a multi-national organisation that operates on a global scale providing a service to users in almost every country, yet only americans can test your product. It almost guarantees that your test base will be predominantly white, male, educated and middle class anyway.
I'm not sure how I would stop myself from rage smashing my Glass the first time an ad popped up at an inappropriate/dangerous time. Glass could be really cool, and it could be really, really stupid too.
There will be apps. Will there be free/ad supported apps? I hope not.
I think Google really should be running this as a free promotion. A pair of Google Glass (Glasses? Not sure how to pluralize) is worth less than two shares of GOOG, they can afford it. A contest to win a free pair (or two) would really drum up some buzz, I don't understand the strategy of charging for the winner. It's kind of like those contests where you "win" the chance to buy super bowl tickets.
After all that application process including collecting ideas from people, I was really thinking they'd give a pair of glasses to each of those 'selected candidates' for free. Turned out it's not the case. Would I do all that application process when I'll possibly be able to buy it after some time without that for the same money anyway?
Wow. Thanks! I wear glasses to and it's also my concern. But my problem now, my lens are too thick (my grade is high) to be held up by a half frame. I always need a full framed glass. And I think, that one in the picture is just half framed.
Check out the "what it does" page towards the bottom under the headline "evolutionary design" it shows a picture of a lens mounted on a pair I assume you could get a prescription lens if you wore glasses.
It looks like its designed to work with any type of lens, some of the pics at http://www.google.com/glass/start/what-it-does/ show it without any lenses at all. Its kind of like a projector that beams onto whatever lens is used, I think.