Google Project Glass: can you really see people wearing digital goggles?

Posted on 16. Apr, 2012 by in Digital Marketing

This is a guest post by Martin Woods. Martin organises and speaks at IonSearch which is an SEO & digital marketing conference based in Leeds.

Will Google glasses be a threat to how we interact with the world or how we conduct business in the future?

Mobile augmented reality isn’t a new concept to technology savvy consumers. In fact the term ‘augmented reality’ was first coined way back in 1990 by Tom Caudell when he used the term to discuss the advantages of AR versus VR whilst working at Boeing. For many it’s been a question of when, rather than if Google was experimenting with the technology. There have been rumours of a Google augmented reality project for years and earlier this month Google co-founder Sergey Brin officially unveiled Project Glass.

It wouldn’t be the first time that this primarily software focused company has set its sights on vertical integration in an attempt to reaffirm its authority within the industry. Take the rack-mounted Google Search Appliance which was produced in collaboration with Dell back in 2008. More recently the Galaxy Nexus, a touchscreen slate Android smartphone developed in partnership with Samsung, which was release in December 2011. Google’s apparently insatiable appetite to develop integrated mobile devices now seems to be one step closer with the news about Project Glass. It certainly seems to be a very logical strategy to position itself in direct competition with Apples range of mobile devices.

Our Mobile future

Research by Cisco suggests that “By 2016, one-quarter of mobile users will have more than one mobile-connected device, and 9 percent will have three or more mobile-connected devices” (Source: Cisco whitepaper, February 2012)

Figure 1 – One-Quarter of Mobile Users Will Own Two or More Mobile-Connected Devices by 2016 (source Cisco VNI Mobile forecast 2012)

The rise in the popularity of mobile devices in recent years, such as smart phone and tablet PCs has led to a plethora of applications. Many of these apps feature some form of mobile augmented reality using a combination of data from the mobile device, used in conjunction with data from other mediums; potentially creating endless possibilities for users to engage with data in the real world.

I suppose from my point of view as a SEM professional it’s pretty clear that Google has been focusing increasingly on the platforms used to access its products, as many in the industry recognise that the battle of the mobile devices is key to how we use and access data in the future. Take for example Windows Phone 7 where setting your default search engine to Google simply isn’t an option, the only way to do it is to install an App. Fancy using Bing every day on your phone?

The following statement posted on the Project Glass Google+ page “We think technology should work for you—to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t”, seems to follow this theme of vertical integration from Google. After all, vertical integration isn’t a new concept in business.

One of the big questions I have about Project Glass is if it all takes off, how will we consumers interact with data? Jono Alderson recently wrote an excellent article “What’s the big deal about semantic HTML?” where he discusses how the web as we know it today needs to be optimised for the devices of the future.

“In fact, this is one of the key limitations of the modern Internet – that it’s generally designed exclusively for human consumption, but with no consideration for interoperability, future-proofing.”

How will this affect how we do business in the future? Next week we are organising the first IonSearch search marketing conference in Leeds, Yorkshire. But will there be a future in physical conferences in the future? Why travel all the way across the country or even in some cases across the world to attend a conference when all you have to do is wear a pair of AR glasses? As humans I think we enjoy the ‘personal’ approach more than we realise.

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