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Through the Google looking Glass
AFP
April 10, 2013
First Published: 11:34 IST(10/4/2013)
Last Updated: 14:10 IST(10/4/2013)

Google has released a video of the Google Glass presentation it gave at SXSW revelaing what it's like to wear the headset, its uses and the motivation behind developing the product.



Staying in the moment

In the video, which runs for almost an hour, Google developer advocate Timothy Jordan explains that Google Glass's current uses include being able to shoot video and take photos, perform web searches, get directions and chat -- similar to what the average smartphone enables the average smartphone owner to do. However, unlike a smartphone, Google Glass keeps its wearer in the moment. "Project Glass is about our relationship to technology. It's about technology that's there when you want it but out of the way when you don't," Jordan saysin the video. "It feels like technology is getting in the way more than it needs to. And, that's what we are addressing with project Glass. It's so that you can still have access to the technology that you love but it doesn't take you out of the moment."

Technology in the background, benefits in the foreground

When experts, journalists and rights advocates discuss Google Glass, they tend to do so in terms of a wider trend of wearable technology and the largely negative impact such devices could have on society. And while Google's headset does indeed have the ability to constantly film everything its user sees and automatically publish that content to the web, Google Glass is also addressing a very pertinent technological issue about which the same experts are effusive and excited. The average consumer -- that is, not a self-confessed computer geek -- gets the most out of a technological device when the technology is in the background and its features and benefits are in the foreground. The concept of a smartphone was incredible but, until the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, the execution was less than refined and therefore the handsets only appealed to true technophiles. By replacing complex menus and keyboard navigation with a touch and swipe interface and a graphical display, Apple made a very complex and powerful device extremely user friendly. iPhone owners are not that concerned about how much RAM their device has or how many cores its processor contains, what they care about most is how well it works and how simple it is to use.

The same logic is the driving force not only behind Google Glass but also behind products like the Leap Motion Controller (which allows users to control their desktop and notebook computers via gestures and swipes rather than keystrokes) and Microsoft's own Kinect system, which was recently updated to work with Windows PCs as well as the Xbox gaming console. In fact it's a key, recurring theme of Microsoft's Bill Gates and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, both of whom continually stress the importance of moving the concept of a traditional computer out of the technological equation. At the moment, computers are a barrier between consumers and simply accessing the technological features and services they need; Google Glass could be a first step to knocking down these barriers, but with one caveat, that the privacy issues surrounding their use, doesn't erect new barriers.

In the video, Jordan mentions that the product is still in its early stages of development, however, Google is still expected to release the headsets to the general public before the end of the year. A pair of Google Glasses is expected to cost $1500 when they do finally find their way into stores around the world.


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