Thursday 28 June 2012

Glass to the Future

Having to wear glasses most of the time doesn't seem quite so irksome after the launch of Google Glass yesterday. Watch the promo skydiver video if you've not already seen it, or the concept video of day-to-day life with the glasses.

While the skydiving is a bit like a streaming helmet cam, the concept video is particularly important as it represents a different way of doing stuff that we actually do today by taking out our phones, unlocking them and then interacting. Not sure about muttering at your glasses to make them do things, but we've already seen a huge transformation in people's public interaction with technology.

I'm sure there will be a wave of lookalike social products for sharing, photos, location and the like, but frankly those are going to be covered by Google in the base product. That leaves a huge open space for some really exciting new stuff to happen, things we've not even thought of yet. 

In Neal Stephenson's highly entertaining book Snow Crash there are a group of people who are permanently wired up to stream information into the US Library of Congress. This is exactly what Glass can do - constantly stream all environmental data to the grid. This raises the interesting question of what you can do with it all. After all, I'm sure that it is possible to piece together people's lives from Instagram uploads but I suspect that the result is dull and useless.

Exciting as the Glass platform unquestionable is, the real excitement will come from the new apps that can make sense of the flood of data. Or stop the flood: even current camera phones cause infosec experts nightmares. It's one thing to ask people to leave their phones at the door of secure areas, but glasses are pretty fundamental. 

PS Snow Crash inspired me to write my own cyberpunk novel Network Sleeper.

PPS While it is annoying that Glass preorder is only available to US-Based developers, at least this was stated clearly up front. Far too many new products from Google and others have been launched to a global fanfare only to find out that they only work in the US, or in extreme cases, just the Bay Area.

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