Computers and technology are advancing at an ever-increasing pace. What was new a year ago is now outdated, and the futuristic innovations to come really don’t seem all that far off. Tablets and smartphones brought touch interactivity to the masses, but now wearable, voice-activated technology is pushing the limits of what we can do with a machine, both in terms of computing power and size. If you haven’t yet heard of Google Glass, prepare to reconsider what you think a computer is, and prepare to be amazed at what this latest innovation can do.
What is Google Glass?
Google Glass is a computer that you wear like eyeglasses. Like a smartphone or tablet, it can connect you to just about anything and anyone. However, unlike iOS or Android technology, Google Glass offers hands-free, voice-activated interactivity. If you’re bothered by people always looking down at their mobile devices, or if you’ve found yourself wanting to use your mobile device but needing to look elsewhere, Google Glass solves this problem by putting a computer display right where your eye is. It sounds incredibly futuristic and impossible, but it’s true: with Google Glass, your screen is wherever you look, allowing users to interact with their computer and the world around them at the same time.
What kinds of things can be done with this computer technology?
With the simple audio signal of, “OK Glass” followed by a basic command, you can essentially have Google Glass do anything you would have your smartphone or tablet do. You can send and receive messages, of course, but you can also ask Glass to take a photo or record a video, look up information, live video chat with anyone else who has a mobile device (and a Google account, naturally), translate your voice, get turn-by-turn directions, and much more. The technology is still fairly new, so it’s a safe bet to say that as more users and programmers get their hands on it, more features will be developed.
Is this the future of computers and technology?
It’s always hard to predict the future. However, it is probably safe to say that there will be a market for wearable computers like Google Glass in the coming years. For one thing, it solves the problem of everyone always looking down and interacting with a smartphone or tablet; eye contact has become scarce in recent years because of our dependence on our devices. Using a machine like Google Glass allows for natural interaction with other people. Also, wearable technology like Glass is small and light, which seems to be the trend in how our interactive devices are improving: thinner, more portable, less boxy. Another thing to consider is that throughout recent history, when people have imagined the future of computers, they have often imagined a voice-controlled machine responding to our commands. That’s exactly what Google Glass does: the user tells it to do something, and it responds accordingly. It’s not a robot companion, per se, but the voice activation feels like a natural evolution of technology like Apple’s Siri for iOS. For these reasons and more, it’s a good bet that more and more people will be using wearable computer devices like Google Glass in the coming years.
Is this technology available to the average person?
Well, yes and no. Currently, in order to get your hands on Google Glass, you have to justify to the company why you are worthy. Called the Glass Explorers program, Google’s intention is to get their product, which is still technically in a beta version, into the hands of people who will use it in transformative, creative, and influential way that many other people will see. So far, Glass has been offered to teachers, athletes, scientists, and others. Recently, Google has extended a wave of additional invitations to more people, but it’s not for a free device. The current price is $1500 – certainly reasonable for a powerful machine, but still expensive, and certainly more than the average smartphone or tablet. As with most technology, though, it is expected that within the next few years, Google Glass will become more affordable, allowing more people to own one of their own.
Technology like Google Glass is remarkable. It allows us to reflect on how far our computers have advanced in recent years and how it is becoming closer to our childhood dreams of a Jetsons-like future. In recent weeks, Google has upgraded their prototype, and now Glass has more options: it is available in several colors, and with a quick modification, it can work with sunglasses and prescription eyeglasses. The device’s durability has also been improved; unlike a pair of store-bought glasses, Google Glass does not break or warp easily. If you get the opportunity to try on Google Glass for yourself, take it. You’ll be amazed at how much you can do with a device that is almost entirely hands-free.