My initial response to Google’s Project Glass – a mix of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and mobile technology – was two-fold:
- Wow, the technology in “The Matrix” movies is beginning to look dated
- When exactly was the date of Judgement Day in “The Terminator” movies?
Make no mistake – this project is what is next. Mobile technology is going to mesh into wearable hardware that integrates AI software with augmented reality and our own personal social and web-based technologies. Our mobile devices – that have our applications, our email, our photos and videos, our music, our books, and our gateways to Facebook, Yelp, Google, etc. – will be omnipresent.
Literally, a part of us.
As the Google video shows, we’ll be integrating technology into everything we do. Our “screen” will be the world around us. The real-world will come with the online world superimposed on it. Access to information will be everywhere we look:
- Pop-up reviews on restaurants, taverns and retail establishments from our social graph
- Coupons and deals sliding across our vision as we pass a store or an event
- The ability to share experiences – live video and photographs – as we are experiencing them (rather than having to fumble out our phones to snap a photo or film a video and then upload it to a social network)
- The ability to mash-up our technologies with other people’s technologies – in real-time
- Instant updates on news and friends activities
Think about the potential. Going to a historical building and suddenly you are zipping back in history. An augmented reality of the 17th century can come alive around you – with captions and additional information popping up.
Life as a video game.
Of course, these are amazing advances in the way we are currently using technology. I’m sure there are dozens of concepts or ideas that no one has even thought of yet. The potential is enormous. But with enterprises like Project Glass there is also a dark side:
- Privacy is evaporating in front of our eyes (pun intended). Everyone we meet will be recording and capturing the moment on film, video, text. The idea of being left alone or just trying to “stop the madness” will be extremely difficult
- The divide between those with technology and those without will grow even greater. You are already at a disadvantage in our modern world if you don’t have portable, mobile technology. In business, having a smart phone isn’t an advantage – it’s a requirement
- One word: Addiction
We don’t really know all of the dangers of wearable, always-on technology. What will it do to our brains? Our attention spans? Will we be pushed into a constant state of distraction? Will pedestrian deaths spike because everyone is walking into traffic while playing Angry Birds on their eyeglasses?
How will we even describe reality?
It’s only a matter of years (probably less than we think) when cyborg technology becomes not only a reality, but mainstream. We will be embedding micro-computers into our brains – directly.
There are lots of cultural, societal, economic, and philosophical hurdles ahead of us as technology advances. We haven’t even begun to grapple with them.
But for now we have a peek at the future with Project Glass.
What do you think of it? Will you be first in line to buy augmented reality glasses? Or are you at the point where enough is enough?
CNET post on Project Glass
Washington Post blog post on Project Glass