A Distant Future, Arrived

by: Nick Cope

September 28, 2012

Many of us saw the Bladerunner-esque glasses that DVF wore on the runway just weeks ago at her Spring 2013 show and thought little of it. A stylistic decision? A way for the savvy designer to rub elbows with Sergey Brin and Larry Page, with the big-monied scions of Silicon Valley? The truth is that a massive change is about to occur regarding our relationship to technology via a concept called Augmented Reality. Watch this…

Try to extrapolate a bit beyond the nasally-voiced New Yorker, living a life of leisure, and consider the ramifications of the device. Project Glass is a Google R&D project that will essentially render smartphone technology as fully hands-free. The project was born in the Google X Lab, an experimental wing where such technologies as the Self-Driving Car were developed. Babak Parviz, the electrical engineer behind Project Glass has also worked on putting similar systems in contact lenses – hello, Minority Report! Some have drawn parallels to EyeTap, the project initiated by Canadian professor and scientist Steve Mann

What this will do to further separate the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is truly hard to know, but imagine where you would be if for the last 5 years you weren’t relying on your iPhone for constant connection to email, text, maps, social media, nearest nail salon reviews, etc, and were only plugged in with a Nokia paperweight. I know for myself that I would be two steps behind where I am today. When I think about this new device, I wonder if the same could be said in the next 5 years. Google Glass will essentially remove one more physical element in our interaction with technology – picture the hunched-over mass of people tapping the touch-screen of their respective smart phone – and imagine a voice commanded device that will place necessary information in your field of vision.

Despite the obvious benefits and efficiencies, many have criticized the project and applied a dystopian point of view, with intrusive advertisement and government sponsored imagery and surveillance a realistic fear, yet it marches on. Are we becoming too reliant on technology? It’s hard to imagine doing anything without it at this point. As I sit here writing critically about it, I realize that the very vehicle I use to convey this critique IS IT. Furthermore, it is a relativistic debate – How can I be critical of a smarter smart phone, when the telephone itself is nothing short of miraculous. Maybe carrier pigeon is the more sustainable alternative? We can only wait to see what the future brings.

 

Project Glass, available to developers early 2013.

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