Something New: Google Glass and how it (might) kill the phone

Oh how we all marvelled at Apple’s first iPhone. We scrolled by touching the page and moving it up and down, it had a full keyboard like a computer, but without any physical buttons, and it had a way of looking at the REAL internet instead of WAP – a mobile webpage abomination which has thankfully been vanquished.

We were right to marvel. It was brilliant. It was an enormous evolutionary step: packing the functionality of a computer into a device you already had in your pocket. The only thing you had to do to get all that functionality was swap your battered Motorola for the new super phone. It was still just one device to carry.

We were finally living in a future where technology was easy, seamless, beautiful and always with us.

The simple phone was the future. Was the future.

Google just killed the mobile phone. Well. Maybe.

If the mobile phone’s death does happen, it won’t happen overnight. It’ll take time. The reason the mobile may die is that Google has created a product called ‘Glass’. A pair of eye glasses, Glass projects onto its lens messages, directions and information. It can record video and take pictures, it can look at your calendar and make calls. It can basically do everything your phone can. There aren’t even any buttons – it’s controlled with your own voice.

Rumoured to retail for over $1,000 and be available within the next 12 months, Google Glass is important for two things; firstly, it marks the first big leap into ‘wearable computing’. Secondly, the potential for a product like Google Glass is enormous.

Imagine walking down a street and asking for directions to a chocolate shop. Imagine wearing the glasses and seeing the route laid out in the pavement in front of you. Now imagine that, on your way, you look up at a billboard for Coca-Cola. The glasses know it’s a Coca-Cola ad and animate the poster, immediately giving you the chance to order for delivery some Coke or Coke merchandise. You can even interact with the living poster with gestures or speech.

Now imagine you’re in a clothes shop and hold a shirt up to your chest. In front of you, the glasses display your image wearing the shirt. You get the option to order it for home delivery and buy it through your glasses. You leave for the next shop – an item bought, but no carrier bag.

This is the potential for Google Glass. In fact, that’s just a small part of the potential for glass. Goodness knows where else that technology could go. Computer games could be amazing.

While the current Google Glass looks to be just a small chip of a lens over the top right corner of your right eye, the direction of this technology is capable of incredible things. It may look a little sci-fi, but the technology for everything I’ve described exists today and with mobile internet getting ever faster, edges closer to becoming reality.

Like the iPhone, Google Glass takes existing functionality of a device and adds a huge amount to it while also taking something we may have with us anyway – glasses – and imbuing them with all that functionality.

So far, it looks as though this iteration of Google Glass may need to be linked to a mobile phone. The future, however, seems clear.

Apple is rumoured to be working on a special type of watch and Microsoft to have some form of glasses for its next Xbox, but his would be taking wearable computing and putting a whole lot of practical, everyday use into it.

While Microsoft has long dazzled us with magical visions of a future where every table top and wall, every jumper and window can be a fully functioning touch screen, the sheer cost of that world is mind boggling.

Instead, Google has found a way to give us all that, not by redecorating the whole physical world, but by adding to our visual perception of it through a pair of glasses. A bit more realistic, a bit cheaper and, most importantly, coming soon.


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