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The Latest on Google Glass

A project in flux, though with great promise.
January 2, 2013

IEEE Spectrum landed a great interview with Babak Parviz, who’s heading up the Google Glass project we’ve written about before (not always favorably; see “Signing Up for Google’s Glasses Is Like Signing Up for a Mental Illness”).

Parviz helps refocus, so to speak, what Google Glass is all about. It’s not just that the thing is a heads-up display for the masses. Parviz actually calls this the second big goal of the project–“to have a technology that would allow people to access information very, very quickly.”

The first big goal of the project, he explains, has to do more with the fact that Google Glass lives in front of your eyes. Google Glass is about bringing the visual to social computing. It’s about “allow[ing] people to connect to others with images or video.” It’s about emphasizing that which we see, rather than hear or read. Put somewhat awkwardly, it’s about making the eye social.

The other main reveal about Google Glass is that the device really still seems to be in experimental stages. You get the impression the project could take a new tack at any moment. “It is still in flux,” says Parviz, with the device’s “feature set” (hardware and software) not yet etched in stone. As for input, Parviz’s team is experimenting with things as wide-ranging as voice commands and hand gestures.

If Google Glass emphasizes the visual, it will necessarily involve a lot of video. But video drains battery life quickly. Parviz acknowledges the problem, calling it a “valid concern,” and says that he’s hoping the battery life will last a whole day. But he doesn’t go into any details about how the team is going to make that happen.

Here are some more details on Glass, also courtesy of IEEE, which appears to have a big package on the project in the January issue. A developer edition should come out this year, but will cost $1,500. We probably won’t see the final version till 2014 or beyond. One IEEE writer decided to hack together a DIY Google-ish Glass of his own, using variously sourced components; you can read about that adventure here.

Writes Rod Furlan in that intriguing little piece, very much worth reading in full:

“the greatest value [of Glass] will be in second-generation applications that provide total recall and augmented cognition. Imagine being able to call up (and share) everything you have ever seen, or read the transcripts for every conversation you ever had, alongside the names and faces of everyone you ever met. Imagine having supplemental contextual information relayed to you automatically so you could win any argument or impress your date.”

Then again, if Google has its way, your date will be wearing those glasses too, and may not be so impressed.