When I was studying Digital Media at University I came up with the idea of a pair of “smart glasses” that overlayed directions on your surroundings as you walked around an unfamiliar city. It was all done through triangulation from mobile phone towers and a microprocessor within the glasses frame. It was a fun project to conceptualise, but never made it off the page.
It’s no surprise therefore that I was really excited to hear about Google’s “Project Glass” – a prototype pair of glasses that can record still and moving images from the wearer’s perspective currently being tested by select users.
As Google define it, Project Glass is there to “share the world through your eyes. To get answers and updates, instantly. To be there when you need it, and out of your way when you don’t.”
It’s really cool.
In addition to the image recording capabilities the unit features a heads-up display (HUD) similar to that worn by military pilots, most recognisably those flying the Apache AH-64 Gunship helicopter.
Google have been testing the product in a rather flamboyant way including sky-divers streaming real time footage of their freefall to a Google Hangout and loaning units to fashion icon Diane Von Furstenburg to capture footage during New York fashion week.
It’s the HUD component of this product that particularly interests me though. A device like this with the backing of Google has the potential to make a huge impact. The possibilities for applications are endless. What about GPS based direction services that overlay maps via augmented reality, apps to provide guidance to people caught in emergency situations, real-time translations apps that give you live ‘subtitles’ when listening to foreign languages, ‘black box’ style real time recording for commercial drivers or apps to improve situational awareness for cyclists that overlay alerts when traffic is getting too close.
In the same way in which Apple & Samsung saturated the market with smartphones over a very short period of time, could we be seeing people wearing ‘Google Glasses’ on the high street within a year?
I hope so, because the potential for developing applications for this sort of device are incredibly exciting.