As you get hungry, you look around for a place to eat. You visually pause as you scan the street, and menus pop up with prices, along with the current estimated wait time for a table at the better establishments. "Not bad at all," you think.
You decide to wear these little gadgets on the camping trip with your son's scout troop. You are not much of an outdoorsman, but that's no problem at all. Along the trail you spot an interesting-looking plant, and the "smart bubble" pops up over a leaf, after which you proudly spout off that it is a Toxicodendron rydbergii, better known by its common name -- poison ivy. And just to earn extra points with your son's friends, you casually add, "It was, of course, first described by Captain John Smith in 1609."
This view of the future is not some hypothetical sci-fi cartoon. It (or some beta version) is just around the corner. Complaints have emerged from privacy advocates and others concerned with the intrusion of technology into our lives. These issues will have to be sorted through by tech philosophers and the legal system, but we will get there very shortly, one way or another.
Now, where do I find the X-ray mode on these things? Wow… cool!
@Dean Orsak, I share and appreciate your fascination and enthusiasm for the opportunities of innovation, development, and employment in this relatively new field of augmented reality. What I am surprised by are the comments from some of the very vocal pundits which have taken to demonizing this new technology announcement before it is a released product. Privacy concerns and location tracking aside (that is an ongoing debate), I've seen a very forceful push-back from the punditry over the fact that this technology is being launched by Google. We already have the Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Banks, and Big Insurance demons, but there has been an ever increasing din of "Big Data", with Google at the forefront.
For example, I received the following media request from a prominent media outlet: "As Google touts its latest grab for "world domination," we have to ask the questions: Do we want or need to have Google literally in and on our faces all the time? Do we want a world run around the market forces underlying the project -- as in ad pitches, coupon pitches, etc. -- streaming in front of our eyes all the time? Has Google gone tone deaf? What is the upside here? What are the downsides? Why does this matter? Why should we care?"
I know I continue to harp on the importance of public perception and culture to the future of STEM, but what we in the disciplines consider as wonderful new tools to improve lives and provide opportunity, others view as a power-grab to increase control and domination. The debate is always healthy. But "our side" needs to be mindful of the importance of Public Relations.
William, your comments flag some really legitimate concerns about the evolution of the role technology plays in our lives. While I admit the smart phone has forever changed and enhanced how we go about our daily business, I would also argue that it is often an interloper in our lives, serving as a crutch for kids, spouses, business colleagues, friends, etc. to check out of face-to-face interactions with the easy excuse that they have to check their messages or quickly deal with a problem.
I just can't even imagine a world where everyone hits the streets with one of these camera-loaded data-processing eyeglasses perched on their head. Sure, the technology is cool and its potential, no doubt, life changing. To me, the fear is less about marketing forces penetrating everything or Google serving as Big Brother, but rather falling deeper into the clutches of innovative technology at the expense of forsaking real human interaction. That's what scares me.
I totally agree with you and Beth. Big Brother is already controlling us through TV and the rest of the media. We see our kids being raised withouot having thoughts of their own. Strapping on a pair of Google Goggles would then let Google or the highest bidder manage our minds and perceptions full time.
Interesting article but it's really difficult to envision Google goggles becoming anything more than a novelty. I'm sure that they would give new meaning to hands-free while driving if there is the ability to access these enhanced software tools. Even the debate about larger, more complex touchscreen interfaces might become an issue for some but Google goggles could take it over the to for some concerned with safety.
@apresher: I agree with you. Google has an interesting approach to business. They develop many technologies, it seems, to see what sticks. Android is a good example. I don't think this one will catch on, but something may come of it that could be useful. Google makes so much money off of search that they can afford to try lots of things. The device itself is not the real challenge. The real issue is the infrastructure behind it that maked all that cool stuff possible. It is the same with the cell phone. One other issue to consider is how will this be paid for. Will ads pop up as you walk along the street? How long would you put up with that?
I can quickly see use for this technology for two constituencies in the disabled community, for abilities most take for granted:
First off, even the basic heads-up display is a G-dsend: One of the things we depend on is CapTel (captioned telephone), which is conducting a regular voice phone call, and having the other party being monitored by a relay operator who also transcribes the call, with the text appearing on our phone like this: http://www.CaptionCall.com or appear on our mobile like this: http://sprint800.com/what-captel
Now, let's say you're hearing mpaired, and walking down the street while talking to someone on your mobile: Instead of holding the phone up to your hearing aids or cochlear implant (CI) -- And missing many words -- or looking down to read the captions, instead the words come into our ears, and then appear in front of our eyes a second or two later. Pretty cool, ehh?
For the cognitively impaired, overlaying information on landmarks while walking about (as a sort of "heads-up GPS") would be very helpful.
Lastly, for those who are cognitively impaired when it comes to recognizing faces -- Or more accurately, connecting a familiar face to a name (which is absolutely maddening, as that's me) -- this would be a huge help.
For much more, talk to the good people at the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center at Gallaudet in DC: http://www.hearingresearch.org/
Dan Schwartz Editor, The Hearing Blog http://www.TheHearingBlog.com
This sounds like a technology you would see in a futuristic movie, is hard to imagine it real but it will be truth in a very near future, I have learned about augmented reality being used in manufacturing companies to make processes and systems more efficient and safe, I think Google's googles can have tremendous potential in other environments other than marketting and publicity.
Honestly, the story made me appreciate reality more than a virtual reality. How obscene is it to take a walk on a beautiful Spring day and have my Google Goggles tell me what to look at and how to enjoy it? Yes, cell phones have forever changed how we communicate, but it seems that our culture has gained instant communication at the expense of literacy. I used to travel quite a bit, and I would leave a note for my wife as I made my early morning journey to the airport. It would be nearly a day before my wife would hear from me again. If my wife had car trouble or a child needed stitches, her story would have to wait until I called in from the hotel at then end of the day. My wife still has boxes of those notes in her hope chest (like I said, I traveled quite a bit), and you really can't do that with a smart phone.
Virtual reality may be fun, but it's not a substitute for its original inspiration.
These do seem to be something straight out of a sci fi movie. They would be cool to see in use. With the technology involved, these would probably come with a steep price tag or be supplied by a cellular carrier that would require a long term contract to cover the full cost of the device.
In regards to augmented reality in our lives, the first time that I played a hockey video game that had the actual play by play running while you played the game I was amazed. After that, there was no going back. Life had changed forever.
We might debate how this technology might be accepted but one of the greatest uses of Google goggles might be new kinds of interactive games. It certainly would provide a rich interface with lots of additional software possibilities.
If successful, it'll be worn by all TSA employee's (no fly list people's faces show up red). Then worn by police (in-car-cam's for officers, stolen car tags flagged, those with outstanding warrants show up red-faced, evidence for trial, etc.)
Then they'll pay people to wear them instead of welfare. Some crime will happen on the street (perhaps political) and no one will help, but everyone will stop what they are doing and just stare.
Seen it a dozen times in Sci-fi movies. Big brother's not just watching you, now he's watching what you are watching. Sci-fi is never creepier than when it starts becoming reality. Coming soon to a face near you.
Just picture the quantity of truly obnoxious advertising that you could be blasted with if you ever wore a set of these goggles. And is there any other possible reason that Google would push for such a creation? We are far better off when we can keep our minds a bit private, and this creation would completely open up a huge segment of our existance to the advertising folks at Google. So I would once again pose the question: Just because they can, should they? The advertising would probably be far more invasive than much of what"big brother" would do.
So society would be best served if this creation is a commercial failure.
Good point, William. But that's what you can expect from Google? The company has a great search engine and a ton of other technology, but at its core, Google is a company whose purpose is to serve up advertising. The search function is just a vehicle for advertising.
WilliamK - That's exactly what I was thinking as I was reading the article. Everywhere you look there will be ads embedded - and I'll be they've learned their lesson to lock down the technology so you can't block the pop-ups or other ads.
Google Goggles (neat name!) or their equivalent WILL happen. The gap between the Luddites and the technogeeks will continue to widen with some spill-over. Tablets are the wave of the future, or they have absolutely no use in a polite society. I imagine there is sufficient gee-whiz market for these to pay-off R&D and gearing up of manufacturing. The half-life of the 1st edition will probablly be measured in weeks rather than months. Introduction of hardware and software will determine interest and Google undoubtably has enough changes available for introduction if interest continues. It'll be intersting to watch as this develops.
Dan has offered a really good application idea for the system, and that could indeed be a positive benefit. "BIG boost for the disabled DanSchwartzBut I don't think that the google ads would be switched off to save a life, let alone relieve a handicap. So while I agree that there could be a great benefit I don't see the advertising community allowing it to happen. Money almost always gets it's way. But that is the one place that possibly the ads might be eliminated. Of course it is also possible that the units would also be sold by some company that specializes in helping the impaired.
I believe Dean Orsak is correct about tech philosophers having to sort through the privacy issues, and he's also correct that the technology will eventually get here, ready or not. Remember all the squawking about Caller ID and the associated privacy issues? The technology arrived, the debate grew and then waned. Now almost everyone has Caller ID.
Charles Murray; And that might be the first spin-off. In the early days of answering machines I knew someone who had a telephone answering machine, but refused to leave a message on one herself. Anonymous web surfing services are available now. There will be people who want the advantage of instant information on whoever or whatever pops into view. But they will want anonymity. For a price, they will be able to be 'unlisted' , or have 'restricted access' in the Google Goggle system.
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