Google Glass: Will It Change Your Life Or Break Your Heart?

With a new video full of promises and a contest underway to put it in the hands of a select few, is Google’s latest gizmo the next big thing in mobile computing or all hype?
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With a new video full of promises and a contest underway to put it in the hands of a select few, is Google’s latest gizmo the next big thing in mobile computing or all hype?

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Google has just released a video touting the wonders of Google Glass, the tech giant’s futuristic/risible specs that promise the ultramodern Blade Runner experience that you’ve always wanted. The new augmented reality facegear attempts to seamlessly integrate many of the functions of a handheld smartphone into a pair of eyeglasses. With Google Glass, searching the web, taking photos and videos, getting calendar updates and sending messages can all be done hands-free and easily through the use of voice commands, or so they say. Can Google’s new gadget can live up to its lofty promises or will it be the next Google Plus?

While your phone or tablet may rely on a keypad or touch screen to navigate the user interface, Google Glass is designed around the use of voice commands. Simply say the phrase “OK Glass” and you can command the gizmo to do any number of tasks and display the results on a small screen. Beyond the fun of pretending you’re a Replicant, this allows for a great deal of convince. No need to text while driving, you can now dictate your message and keep your hands on the wheel. Lost while cycling? Bring up a map and keep looking straight on. At a gig and want to make your friends jealous? Take a video without holding up your phone like a bellend, or better yet broadcast it live, because now your friend can see what you see. This coupled with diary reminders, translation and the ability to search the web makes for a pretty sweet package, if Google can pull it off that is.

One source of potential disaster is the fact that for Google Glass to work, the voice recognition software must be spot on. Anyone who has ever tried to use Siri or Google Now will know that this technology is far from perfect. The ever-fallible digital assistants get thrown off if you have more than even a hint of a regional accent. Without a keyboard to manually input data and commands, Google Glass hinges on a very imperfect technology and this could be very problematic.

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This speaks to the bigger issue of the robustness of Google’s programming. Again, while Google writes excellent code, this doesn’t mean what they put out is foolproof. As for the translation function, anyone who’s used Google Translate knows that you’re just as likely to end up with something that reads like a lost passage from The Wasteland as you are to get the proper Swedish translation for “which way to baggage claim?” Furthermore, Google searches, for information or images, don’t always deliver exactly what you want. While a mouse or a touch screen makes scrolling through the plethora of options easy, this could prove far more frustrating on Google Glass.

Perhaps this is too critical, but one question that Google hasn’t addressed is what role Google Glass is meant to play in our daily lives? Is doesn’t seem to be meant to replace a smartphone, tablet or netbook, so then where does it fit? One can assume it’s meant to work in tandem with these devices, but how well will they all sync up? Also if you already own a smartphone, why do you need a pair of robot glasses that make you look a fool? That’s the other problem: the glasses are just plain ugly.

Whether or not Google Glass becomes the next big thing in tech or a punch line remains to be seen.  With rumors of an iWatch brewing, it seems that wearable tech is on the horizon and that maybe closer than you think. Stateside, Google’s announced a contest for ‘bold, creative individuals’ to get their paws on a pair (as long as they can shell out $1,500). In fifty words or less, applicants must tell the Google what they’d do with the smart specs if they had a set. This is why you might see #ifihadglass tweets from your American friends. With a planned release date sometime in 2014, Google Glass could very well change your daily life soon, provided that the thing works as it should and serve a real purpose.