Google co-founder Sergey Brin wearing an early version of Glass.
You may have recently seen some funny-looking headgear on the brows of top Google execs—and while it may look like a nerdy fashion statement, Google’s Project Glass very well may be the future of human-machine interaction.
“One thing that we’re really excited about and working hard on is transforming the way that people interact with Google,” said Scott Huffman, Google’s VP of engineering for Search. “From the stilted one-keyword-at-a-time conversation, to more of a natural conversation … like a human assistant.”
Huffman isn’t talking about something like Apple’s Siri, which responds to various questions and phrases. He’s talking about a way to interact with Google’s search engine, and all associated products, that involves gathering so much information about your life and habits that it will start anticipating your needs.
a “great assistant,” one who doesn’t interrupt him often, but knows when to give him a gentle reminder or a sharp kick.Huffman describes the product as being a “great assistant,” one who doesn’t interrupt him often, but knows when to give him a gentle reminder or a sharp kick.
Glass is under development in the Google X Lab—the same place where self-driving cars, neural networks, and other crazy ideas are being dreamed up.
A small display lives on a frame that resembles eyeglasses, connected to a camera, microphone, bone-conducting speaker, and more. With Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, the device can communicate with other gadgets, such as your smartphone, as well as the World Wide Web.
With simple verbal commands, you can prompt the device to take photos, record video, start video chats, provide directions, send messages, search, and more.
Cards resembling those seen in Google Now may occasionally appear on the display. These may remind you of a doctor appointment, provide updates on an upcoming flight, etc.
Google’s original concept video left some people under the impression that Glass provides an augmented reality experience, where information is laid over a field of vision. Instead, you have to glance up at the display, making Glass slightly less disruptive.
To better understand how to meet and exceed expectations with Search—according to Jon Wiley, Google’s lead user experience designer for Search—the company conducted a human-nature study.
Wiley’s team gathered a bunch of very different people and installed specialized software on their mobile devices. Throughout the day, the software asked the participants a very open-ended question: “What was the last bit of information you needed?” This helped the team to better understand what sort of information—simple or complicated—people were hunting for at any given moment.
The study also put this information in context. Where were people when they needed this type of information? What were they doing? What time was it? By gathering all of this data, the team could attempt to draw conclusions about the contexts of searches.
One day, Google could potentially provide users with the information they need without being asked.
One day, Google could potentially provide users with the information they need without being asked. Diligent users of Google Now already get flight information, traffic alerts, and other details automatically based on their itineraries, travel patterns, locations, etc. With Google Glass, that information could be front and center with zero delay.
Despite its amazing promises, Google’s new technology may be out of reach for a while—until late 2013, at the very earliest. Currently, Google is only allowing select individuals to test drive Google Glass, and those individuals must make it through the recently announced #IfIHadGlass application process. The first publicly available edition of Glass costs $1,500 and comes with an invite to a special pick-up event.
Some people view Glass as something that only the nerdiest of nerds will ever wear. Google is working hard to ditch this belief; in fact, The New York Times reports that Google may be in negotiations with eyewear seller Warby Parker “to help it design more fashionable frames” for the product.
What are your thoughts on Google Glass? Would you be willing to break a fashion rule or two to give them a try? Let us know in the comments section below.