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Last week, Google created a new Google+ page to unveil Project Glass, which has a team from Google X–a lab focused on long-term projects–working to incorporate artificial intelligence technology into a pair of augmented-reality glasses. The webpage includes a video of what the technology “might enable you to do” by demonstrating what the world would look like through a pair of Project Glass lenses. As a man goes about his daily life, the glasses overlay his vision with text messages, maps, calendar reminders, and weather alerts. Some of this information is displayed automatically, while other features are provided in response to voice commands. The ability to take photographs, upload content, and video-chat are also part of the demo.
So when will this innovative technology be consumer-ready? The prototype may be further along than many realized, as Google co-founder Sergey Brin was seen sporting a pair at a charity event on April 5. The Washington Post reported that consumers may very well have these glasses in hand by the end of 2012, with each pair running anywhere from $250-$600. Google, however, has announced no formal release date. In fact, the media giant explained that it was sharing information about Project Glass in order to “start a conversation” with the public and solicit feedback.
And that feedback has varied. While tech enthusiasts look on with anticipation, skeptics are expressing concern over the legal and practical implications of this latest Google gadget. A video created by Tom Scott, “Google Glasses: A New Way to Hurt Yourself,” shows a wearer of these advances specs as seeing little of the real world through a haze of distracting updates and digital requests. Likewise, the parody “ADmented Reality” demonstrates how a constant stream of unsolicited advertisements could easily crowd one’s vision.
As we have seen with texting and driving, the temptation to multitask is simply too much for some consumers. Imagine the damage that could be caused by a driver who has a YouTube video superimposed into his line of sight. There are also privacy concerns, as the AI functions require real-time access to information about a person’s surroundings. The amount of data the glasses could collect and process may be off-putting for some. But who knows, similar concerns were voiced when smartphones were introduced, and the masses seem to have decided the benefits outweighed the costs. According to Google, the purpose of the technology is to “work for you–to be there when you need it and get out of your way wen you don’t.” The problem may not be the technology, but rather consumers’ unwillingness to put down their smartphone or take off their Project Glass lenses.
- Katie Kuhn
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