Back in early 2012, before the world had heard of Google Glass, the tech world was ablaze with rumours that the search giant was beavering away on augmented reality goggles.
As the days went by, it was clear that not only was this true, but that Google’s dream of wearable technology was far, far closer to release than anyone would have guessed.
Roll forward just over a year and the first versions are in the hands of developers who went into a lottery to fork out $1,500 for their own pair of spectacles.
But what exactly is Google Glass? Why is it attracting all this attention and what are the implications – both good and bad – of having a Google-eye view of the world?
What is Google Glass?
Google Glass is an attempt to free data from desktop computers and portable devices like phones and tablets, and place it right in front of your eyes.
Essentially, Google Glass is a camera, display, touchpad, battery and microphone built into spectacle frames so that you can perch a display in your field of vision, film, take pictures, search and translate on the go.
The principle is one that has been around for years in science fiction, and more recently it’s become a slightly clunky reality. In fact, the “heads-up display” putting data in your field of vision became a reality as early as 1900 when the reflector sight was invented.
Google Glass uses display technology instead to put data in front (or at least, to the upper right) of your vision courtesy of a prism screen. This is designed to be easily seen without obstructing your view. According to Google the display is “the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away”. There’s no official word on native resolution, but 640 x 360 has been widely mooted.
Overlaying data into your vision has obvious benefits; many of which are already functional in Google Glass. Directions become more intuitive (although it sounds like there is no GPS on board so you will have to pair it with your phone), you can view real-time translations or transcriptions of what is being said, and you can scroll through and reply to messages – all on the fly.