Otaqui.com Blog

A Google Glass, Darkly

Google’s “Project Glass,” the as-yet not very well explained augmented reality project, tends to incite quite a strong reaction from people.

If you read through comments on the Guardian’s piece, you’ll see comments ranging from desperation to have the technology and also “I would not want to live in such a world.”

I find the latter kind of comment particularly amusing – the author seems not to appreciate that engaging in a computer-mediated global discussion is exactly the kind of thing they seem to be against.

Augmented reality is something that has, in truth, been around a long time.  I happen to know a little bit about flying, and about the “instrument  rating” – the qualification that allows a pilot to fly at night or in bad weather.  When you are flying at night or in cloud, you can’t see the horizon and your senses can deceive you as to which way is up and what direction you are moving.  The reason that pilots don’t fly straight into the ground or mountains is that they use their instruments as an extra layer of understanding on the situation around them.  This is a fairly clear form “augmenting reality.” If you’re overly obsessed by the specifics of having such information planted right there in front of your face, rather than having to look at a dashboard, then picture the kind of HUDs (heads up displays) that have been in use in military aircraft for many years.

The expansion of these technologies both in scope and use, should hardly be surprising or even taken as some kind of revelatory experience.   Really an overlay on reality is a new and slick interface, and will have all sorts of uses, but the *real* revelation is having a smartphone in your pocket that (aside from the visual overlay) can more or less do everything the video demonstrates – contact people all round the world, video conference, set reminders, search localised information, and so on.

All that being said, I’d quite like one :)