Google's new smart glasses could actually be the next significant computing platform... or gadget... or... Jetson's thingy. They display just about anything, intelligently, right in your retina's view. | Photo: Google
Have you seen Google's new Project Glass? By all appearances, this could be the coolest gadget since the iPad, and could potentially revolutionize how people interact through social networks, text messaging, and web searches.
The video released by Google is pretty cool, and if the glasses work as advertised, they'll likely be a huge hit. Problem is, there are a lot of questions out there about just how good Project Glass will be.
Do I really need Google Glasses?
Between my smartphone and my tablet, I'm about as connected as connected can get. And while I'm not getting emails, text messages, and video chats beamed directly into my eyeballs, I can keep up with my online social life and my work email anytime of the day or night. It's fairly easy to be extremely connected these days even without the slick interface beaming itself over everything you see. From a practical perspective, Google Glasses just don't seem to make much sense.
How about battery life?
I don't know about you, but if I don't charge my smartphone every night, I'm in trouble the next day, and chances are the battery in a smartphone is significantly larger than whatever battery Google can pack into their glasses - unless they have come up with some innovation they have yet to announce. If Google Glasses can't get more than a few hours' battery life, they won't be very useful as anything other than a novelty item.
How do they look?
As Gizmodo pointed out, Google's glasses aren't quite fashionable as the publicity photos released by Google, which could be a major hurdle for the product. In fact, as Gizmodo also pointed out, Nokia released a concept video in 2009 for a similar product with much better-looking hardware. Normally, the aesthetic value of a computing device wouldn't be a primary consideration, but when we delve into the realm of wearable computers, looks could very well make or break the device's future in the gadget market.
|Is the world ready for Google Glass?|
driving is already a significant issue across the US. About three-quarters of US states have laws on the books banning texting while driving and/or regulating cell phone usage. Something like Google Glasses could take distracted driving to a whole new level. Just imagine: you're driving home in rush-hour traffic when your significant other texts you to ask what you want for dinner. Now, instead of focusing on the car in front of you, you're reading a text message when traffic slows down suddenly. Not a pretty picture.
In addition to the distraction factor is the question of ads. Google's promotional video shows a clean, ad-free interface, but for a company that has shown few qualms about getting users hooked and then changing the rules after the fact, that is sure to change. Google has never been shy about changing its privacy standards for targeted searching and ad placement, so it makes me wonder how Google will be handling those kinds of features in the future, with what is almost sure to be a GPS-enabled device that includes a front-facing camera. If anything, Google Glass could be a better tool for Google to deliver targeted advertisements to users than it would be for users themselves: as you're walking down the street and see a Starbucks, suddenly a Starbucks ad pops into view...
All in all, Google Glass seems like a pretty solid concept, but the fact remains that there are some rather significant questions as to whether the technology is ready for Google Glass, and whether the world is ready to share their lives even more with a corporation that has shown it is not concerned about privacy.