All of us have had moments when we think of a question we would like answered in a timely manner. We ask the people around us for help. However, being able to receive an answer that is both correct and trustworthy depends on the environment we are in at the time we need an answer to our question. In today’s rapidly evolving technological world, many people have smart devices that, when connected to a wireless internet signal, can provide a person with the answer to their question with a simple type-and-search command. Many “smart” devices even have applications on them that allow the owner to vocally ask a question to their device and receive an answer in a short matter of time. Beyond finding answers to your questions, these smart devices also allow instant access to video, images, social networks, and other content you find important to your life. The culture surrounding instantaneous information acquisition is already vast and is evolving at a rate that defies my ability to explain in this short column.
Of course, there are both positive and negative consequences to this reality. I have experienced both even though I do not own one of these smart devices. The positive nature of these devices lies in the acquiring of knowledge and the ability to share it more easily with others. It also allows people to express themselves, communicate with others, and build relationships with people not physically by their side. The negative nature lies in the power a device has to separate a person from the environment surrounding them. It can reduce awareness and break down important, real sociality even while virtual sociality is being built. I myself have experienced frustration when a person I am speaking with has attempted to reciprocate effective communication while also using their device for another purpose.
How should technology evolve to build effective communication and not break it down? There are purists who argue for reality or virtuality and view the other as wrong. I feel both sides have good points. The person who sends a message while driving is not paying attention to reality and therefore wrong, but that message may have been important in a real relationship existing in the virtual world. Both perspectives are going to shape technology in the future. The problem lies in bringing together both for the positive progress of a world that is evolving as quickly as it is. This is where Google feels they can contribute.
Google: the massive search engine many of you most likely use to receive instant answers to those important questions.
Google has begun to more seriously foray into creating their own hardware such as Chromebook laptops, and their Nexus tablets and smart phones. At a Google convention in April of 2012, a new product was introduced. It was given the name Google Glass because of its glasses design, but it was clear correcting vision was not its purpose at all. Glass is an ultra-lightweight augmented vision product that provides the wearer with information normally accessed on other smart devices, and projects it into the retina part of the eye. The wearer of Glass then physically sees a display in a certain part of their vision.
Each Glass contains various innovative technologies that would allow the wearer to take pictures and video from a first-person perspective and share them with others via the internet. That is not all. If you have a question, you can vocally ask it to your Glass and instantly receive an answer through the internet. In fact, all Glass functions can be controlled via voice command, including sending messages and video chatting with friends. Since its introduction, Google has allowed product developers to test Glass and contribute to its evolution. Just recently, Google opened that offer up to a limited number of non-developers.
With Glass have come the usual arguments over privacy. It seems to me the discussion is the same as that which surrounds other smart devices. Glass is being touted as unique in its ability to not distract the user from fully engaging in reality. Since it is worn like glasses, a person can interact with others face-to-face. The augmented vision display that allows a person to physically see what Glass function you are controlling is set slightly away from the main focal point, which reduces distraction. It allows you to live your life and have meaningful relationships, while also allowing a person to tap into the virtual world of instant information if you feel the need. Glass is still a ways away from being released to the public, but if you are interested in understanding more of what I shared, just Google it!