On Google’s Project Glass: Are Humans and Machines Merging?

On Google's Project Glass: Are Humans and Machines Merging?Guest blogger Zuhair of MrTechz writes:

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have the technology to browse the Facebook profile of the stranger walking next to you? As ludicrous as this may sound, that may well become reality in the very near future. When news emerged of Google working on Internet-connected glasses, the idea was widely written off as fictional and not realistically possible. However, Google recently confirmed that its Google glasses are in fact in testing and could be on the market as early as next year. This has understandably caused much hype around the world and speculation on what the glasses may offer is rife. So, let’s take a look at what we know about these ‘augmented-reality’ glasses at this stage.

The Google glasses will be connected to the Web via Android, most likely through an Android smartphone in your pocket. The digital glasses basically work by scanning your surroundings through a combination of eye movement and voice recognition and display relevant information directly in the lens. For example, if you are in a suburban area, the glasses will display information such as the nearest restaurants, train stations, bus stops, etc. In effect, the glasses work as a wireless smartphone, briskly displaying relevant information directly in your field of view. Social media notifications would most likely pop up in your vision, though one would think that Google+ would be the primary social network associated with the Google glasses. If these glasses do make it to the market, they could have a detrimental effect on other tech companies like Apple. Think about it: If tasks such as checking the weather, messaging friends, taking photos, or getting directions can be accomplished in the blink of an eye, does this not eliminate the need for smartphones? It may be a bit difficult to update your Facebook status through the glasses, but if you can communicate with your friends through other means via the glasses, why would anyone spend time on Facebook? The only way forward for these companies will be to compete with Google and this will result in a healthy competition that will further develop the Google glasses.

There is no doubt that the Google glasses will cause problems for other tech companies if they are accepted by the public. While the concept behind these digital glasses is solid and if the capabilities of these glasses are really what they are made out to be by Google, then there is no doubt that the glasses will be a success. However, there is a real possibility of these glasses being a flop as the initial designs of the glasses look anything but fashionable and, more than anything, seem quite fragile. If the design is not carefully thought out and made appealing enough to the masses, Google runs the risk of them being dismissed as another Bluetooth device. Also, once the Google glasses do hit the market, their retail price will be important — if they are too expensive for the average consumer, then Google will severely limit its target market. Additionally, the Google glasses will likely have issues associated with the brightness of the display; how will it adjust to varying brightness levels in different environments? If it can’t auto adjust, then the difference in the brightness levels on the screen will be noticeable and this will not work in favor of Google.

Although the possibilities of the Google glasses are endless, they certainly do raise privacy and safety concerns. The Google glasses can potentially be a huge distraction in everyday life; the very concept of having information displayed in your field of view invites danger as tasks such as crossing the road could be hazardous if you are immersed in the glasses. Driving would be even more dangerous as having directions appear directly in your vision would certainly cause distraction. One issue associated with the glasses that has been largely overlooked is the effect of the screen on the eyes; with the screen being so close to the eye, it would likely have a negative effect on your eyesight. What about people who already wear corrective glasses? How would they wear the Google glasses? One way this could be done is by modifying normal glasses or personalizing the Google glasses for specific prescription glasses. As always with Google products, privacy concerns are rife. The possibility of the glasses being used as a medium to browse through online profiles of strangers is worrying and opens up serious privacy issues. Google will likely come up with an answer or solution that temporarily patches up the concerns, but there is no doubt that the Google glasses can potentially breach the privacy of consumers. Either way, Google will have to come up with a satisfying solution to these privacy issues before the glasses hit the market.

The Google glasses have certainly caused a lot of hype and it remains to be seen how they will be taken aboard by the public once they are in the market. The glasses could be released as early as late this year or early next year, so it will not be long before we can see what these digital glasses are really capable of. It would be wise to not take the short promotional video released by Google too seriously as it seemingly over-exaggerates the capabilities of its product; this view is echoed by Blair MacIntyre, who recently said “In one simple fake video, Google has created a level of over-hype and over-expectation that [its] hardware cannot possibly live up to.” The most important question that is left to be answered is: Are we ready for the technology that the Google glasses can provide? This question will really only be answered when the Google glasses hit the market. On that note, I will leave you with a thought provoking question: Are we becoming overly reliant on technology?

Article Written by

Zuhair is a passionate freelance technology writer who specializes in social media, cloud computing and business management. He is currently studying Business Administration and aspires to be an online entrepreneur. In his spare time he enjoys working out and is an aviation enthusiastic.

  • RaterKey

    I honestly believe that it is, for lack of a better word, only “natural” that humans and machines will merge. We are firmly on that path already, let’s be honest I hold my phone in my hand more than any other object I have ever held… And that’s just so I can stay connected, because nowadays that connectivity is part of the human experience.  

    Evolution moves slowly, and there are some things evolution can never achieve. We will never evolve to be connected to the digital world, but we CAN choose to go that way. And in my humble opinion we SHOULD choose to go that way.

    It does bring up many interesting questions. As we know much of the world’s population are luddites. How much resistance will there be from these people? I suspect that it will be considerable. Very possibly to the point of some of these changes being challenged by law, or various religious leaders. We could end up in a situation where in some countries these “enhancements” are traded like illegal drugs are today.

    Another interesting aspect is how it will impact the digital divide, if things are bad now how much worse will the divide get when some people can afford to be more “cyborg” than others. There will be a large element of money, as well as risk taking ability involved. Not everyone will choose to have something as radical as brain implants for instance, and other couldn’t afford them. But these implants could make the people who choose to have them much more successful than others.

    It is an interesting world we live in, I suspect there are changes within our lifetime that will make the WWW look like… I don’t know, a very minor invention. Sorry Tim Berners-Lee :)

    • PacoBell

      With regards to cybernetic enhancements, I believe we’ve already gotten a taste of that with current medical implants and prostheses. They improve the quality of life for many patients, yet they also continue to drive up the cost of healthcare to the point that some simply cannot afford proper coverage due to pre-existing conditions. In the field of sports, one man was recently disqualified because his amputation prosthesis actually enabled him to run faster than a typical human being. In fact, there exist equipment one can readily purchase that give able-bodied individuals the same capability. The sport is called bocking and the the entry-level pricing is steadily coming down.

  • Guest

    There is an iPhone app that provides FB and other info for people around you. I think it may have been withdrawn from the market due to all the fuss about it, though. Basically seemed kind of stalkerish. Could see pics, likes/dislikes and such for a person based on FB, 4Square and some other sources.

    • PacoBell

      Those kinds of “stalker” apps are inevitable. If not in Apple’s walled garden, then everywhere else. Nobody can control the information people share with each other. It would be as feasible as controlling idle gossip today. I mean, sure, we have slander/libel laws now, but those are ill equipped to handle conversations on a mass scale. Even so-called “cyber bullying” will become more prevalent unless everyone is willing to do what China does and tie all your online identities to an indelible physical property.

  • Jwmort

    Privacy concerns could actually dissolve if the glasses were to be the primary screen for the user.  No more shoulder surfing snoops!  I can’t wait to see how they work, and if they will work for people who wear glasses (or contacts).  Bring it … this old man is willing to give it a go!

    • PacoBell

      I doubt shoulder surfing was the privacy issue most people thought of when considering this technology. More likely is the threat of increasingly intimate biographical information being collected and compiled into dossiers and sold to the highest bidder.

  • MrTechz

    On the issue of how the glasses would work for prescription glass wearers, Google has actually released a statement saying they are working on a designs that can be compatible on different types of frames. Will be interesting to see how the designs will actually look though.