Why would I want Google Glasses - and what are they for?
Google has unveiled its Project Glass 'augmented reality glasses' – and the future is covered in ads
A VIDEO released this week by Google showcases their "augmented reality head-up display (HUD) glasses" - a voice-controlled computer in a headset that looks like a pair of wrap-around sunglasses. Information is 'layered' over the world in front of you as you go about your day. With a forward-facing camera, 4G connectivity and movement sensors, the product, officially named Glass, is likely to cost between £150 and £300 - the price of a bottom-of-the-range smartphone.
WHAT DOES GOOGLE GLASS ACTUALLY DO?
Glass pulls together Google's arsenal of real-time, mobile, location-aware services - search, navigation, music, and so on - into a pair of Android-based smart-spectacles and presents the information to the user via a small screen at the edge of their field of vision. The user interacts with the device via voice control.
WHY WOULD I WANT A GOOGLE GLASS?
The applications could be endless: putting on your glasses in the morning as you eat breakfast, your map tells you there is heavy traffic on the route to work. On the drive to the office you pass a Starbucks and a Special Offer on coffee pops up on your screen. In the office, you frame people in your screen and Google+ them to see their profiles. All the while the earphones pipe through your favourite music, only pausing to allow a steady stream of phone calls, targeted adverts and sponsored messages.
Well, there are privacy, security, and ethical concerns. People want to know when they are being filmed or photographed. And of course, as you are essentially wearing a mobile phone, Google will know where you are and what you are looking at. As Extreme Tech notes: "Google is ultimately an advertising company, where eyeballs directly translate into money - and it's hard to get any closer to your eyes than a pair of augmented reality glasses. When you read a newspaper or book, Google could overlay its own, interactive ads."
WHEN CAN I BUY A PAIR?
Not until the end of the year at the very, very earliest. In fact, Google's announcement is a bit of a tease to help develop the product: Google X, the clandestine laboratory in Mountain View California, where the glasses are being developed, has released the video to "spur conversation and elicit information on what people might want from the glasses".
SO ARE GOOGLE CONTACT LENSES NEXT?
That might not be such a ridiculous suggestion: Babaki Parviz, who is involved in Project Glass, specialises in bionanotechnology – the fusion of biology and micro technology – and has already developed a contact lens with embedded electronics to transmit pixels to a person's eye.