Through the Google looking Glass
What if we told you that Google Glass is just a precursor? That the impending arrival of Google’s super-futuristic wearable tech-specs signified our descent into the realms of a sci-fi cyborg augmented society? Minority Report come alive, and available in a not too far off high street in a not too far off future.
Augmented reality glasses allow users to read data displayed in their field of vision, record footage, take pictures, search and translate on the go. Walk into the airport, ask ‘Glass’ (yes you literally talk to your new bespectacled friend) and all your flight info will pop up before you. Got lost? Ask ‘Glass’ and a map will appear. Along with the full implementation of smart watches, wearable tech will radically change the way we work, manage information and communicate with one another.
The potential for integrating tech into our day-to-day activities is mind-boggling. Imagine going to the local market. Wearing them will let us load virtual store plans, receive additional promotional offers and scan for in-depth product information simply by looking at a product’s barcode. Househunting? When you drive into an area, available properties will reveal themselves on the spot.
Socially, wearable tech presents different challenges. Users wont be tapping on touch screens to interface with these devices. They’ll be speaking to them in public places, or gesticulating in thin air – which we think would look hilarious, until we all start doing it of course.
Google Glass, while revolutionising how we receive and transmit immediate data, isn’t yet it seems a direct rival to the tablet. The tablet already has a head start and can offer users a lot of features that may transfer badly (if at all) to the Glass’s user interface. The Tiger’s Google insider has worn and road-tested a pair. Her view? For now it negates the phone rather than the tablet. You won’t use your phone for instant bite-sized data anymore, ‘Glass’ will be your port of call. Will we read publications on Glass? Will we process powerpoint presentations in the blink of an eye? Even digital future-oligists are undecided.
Inevitably, you’re going to have developers experimenting and coming up with all different ways of interacting with an object, space or an environment. At this stage, there is no predicting how this form of tech will work out. Who knows, in a couple of years it may be socially acceptable to talk to inanimate objects!
The tipping point
With a host of other tech-trinkets like Samsung’s Galaxy watch it’s only a matter of time until these types of high-end gadgets will be available to the general public, at relatively affordable prices. The moment when wearable technology ceases to be niche concern and enters the mainstream isn’t far off. And when it happens it’s likely to change both how we consume and create our content.
With content top of many companies list of concerns in 2014, what could this mean for marketers – what must they do to ensure their ‘glanceable’ bite-size content reaches consumers?
One potential solution, if a brand wishes to establish itself on a wearable device, is to focus on providing utility and context. A useful location-aware or context aware application that aids the user, supplied by a brand is one way to market on these devices, but just how this can be achieved is a problem that will be on dev lists across the globe.
If wearable technology takes off in the way we expect it to, it will also lead to a massive increase in the amount of content created documenting our own lives. Digital glasses will be able to film continuously throughout the day, and users can effectively direct the movie of their own lives. They can edit and share the footage they’ve captured over weeks, months and maybe even years with whoever they want. Once again, the horizons of available content and content creation have been dramatically expanded.
Big brother is watching
How users feel about having such an intimate relationship with digital hardware remains to be seen.
Privacy issues are likely to become more complex, and google.co.uk/glass/start/what-it-does/ just for user data; how will wearers of smartspecs be received at private or ticketed events such as concerts or in public places like cafes? Will they be in breach of copyright laws? Will they be banned? For some, the technology heralds a glorious future. For others, it should be approached with caution.
The real question is, will the tablet or Glass emerge as the superior medium? Our money is on the tablet, but only time will tell. What’s certain is that a new frontier in technology is opening up and with it comes a raft of social, business, creative and ethical implications we may not be as prepared for as we think.