What does ‘Augmented Reality‘ mean to you? It’s been a huge buzzword in certain tech circles this year, but what’s the big deal? If you’re like me, the negative associations are endless. You remember laser tag. You remember watching those awful 3D films with the red/blue lenses when you were little. Maybe you even remember Nintendo’s Virtual Boy console from back in the day. In any case, you’d be hard pressed to find an example of augmented reality that wasn’t a gimmick. Which leads us to Google’s latest project, the incredible Google Glass.
Project Glass is one of the company’s attempts to break into the world of personal computing. Yet, we’re not talking about netbooks here. Google is trying to make a mainstream, mobile, wearable computer. What better place to hide one than right in front of your eyes? You see, Google Glass is an innovative pair of glasses. They’re not prescription, and they don’t have standard lenses, but they do provide you with a wealth of useful information as you go about your daily life.
Let’s start with the technology. Google blogger Seth Weintraub has stated the devices will probably use transparent LCD or an AMOLED display in order to project content on the glass. The idea is that users will be able to access information by making hand gestures and tilting their heads. Ideally, they’ll never actually need to touch a screen or the device.
Additionally, the units will feature GPS tracking, a camera, and cell data connectivity. That being said, they’ll probably be running on Android, and may support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth elements. The term augmented reality is used loosely here, as the headset is essentially providing you with smartphone-type content, instead of dramatically altering the world around you. It’s better to think of the technology as an extension of your personal computer or phone.
Next time you’re looking for a good place to grab sushi, just let the glasses direct you to the nearest restaurant. You’d never need to bother fiddling around with the Yelp app, or trying to survive a trip using Apple’s Map application. Directions would appear in your field of view, and you’d be able to walk somewhere without staring at your tablet the whole time.
Obviously, this tech has a lot of potential. It’s been getting a ton of press lately, and Time Magazine even rated it as one of the best inventions of the year, 2012. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding its eventual release, but they’re also a few naysayers. Despite the fact that it hasn’t been released yet, pundits are already worried that the glasses may become distracting or even dangerous to users. After all, driving downtown with a giant arrow blocking your view might be an issue. There are also the usual dystopian worries about media oversaturation, privacy, etc. Considering the technology hasn’t been released yet, there isn’t much to comment here.
Again, Google has managed to push the limits of current gen technology. If you’re as excited as the press seems to be, I’ve got some bad news for you. The devices won’t ship until 2014, and that’s only the earliest prediction. Nevertheless, something this dynamic should be worth waiting for.