Alternative user interfaces were all the rage in the recent months. Of course, we have the ever-familiar touchscreens, which were refined and popularized by iOS and Android (after having existed for decades in very expensive and clunky machines). But there were also other ones, such as gesture controls, motion sensors and speech control. Marry any of these with an attractive piece of wearable tech, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
This is perhaps one of Google’s main motivations for introducing the Google Glass project in the middle of 2012. The project essentially involves projecting augmented-reality images onto eyeglasses, so that users can interact with the Internet through real-world objects.
At least that’s the principle. A recent interview with Babek Parviz, who leads the Google Glass Project, indicates that the search giant itself may still not know what exactly to do with the device. Apart from the cool factor, and the fact that you can boast of being truly connected to the Internet even without tapping on a mobile device in your hand, it seems there is still no practical application for Google Glass.
Babek shared with IEEE that “the feature set for the device is “not yet set” and is “still in flux,” which is geek-speak that probably means they’re still not very sure as to what exactly to do with Google Glass. The Google engineer says his team has been able to incorporate speech controls and head gestures, but further development is still necessary.
As for the business model, Google’s Glass team is likewise baffled. A viable business model is “still being worked on.” The company may want to use an ad-driven model, though, but “at the moment, there are no plans for advertising on this device.”
As for applications, Babek is confident that developers will build software and apps for the Google Glass platform, which he shares is a totally different mobile platform from Android. Even the supposedly simple task of accepting phone calls is still being worked on.
At the very least, the Google Glass team has worked to ensure safety from visual strain, particularly with extended uses of the wearable device. “[W]e’ve made sure the device is safe, visually and otherwise,” Babek assures.
Google Glass is still most definitely in laboratory stage at this point, and is not likely to hit mainstream market soon. Google does give us an interesting peek at what the future can hold, in terms of mobile computing. Augmented reality glasses are likely to be attractive, compared to other pieces of wearable tech that involve strapping on additional equipment to your arms or body. The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets also augments the functionality of Glass, making it easier to use the device as an interface rather than as a computer in itself.
But it seems Google is still baffled as to how exactly to market the thing, and what exactly it should do once they get ready to produce and market it. Or is this just a tactic to shroud the project in secrecy before finally revealing what it can really do, and whether it can truly become game-changing?