After a lot of rumours, and some imaginative concept art Google finally announced the latest idea from the Google-X labs yesterday: Google Glasses. Touted as ‘terminator glasses’ as a callback to the onscreen display seen in the Terminator films (why terminator? Robocop would be a much better example of this) these glasses are the first step down the road to google’s vision of a truly augmented reality. Here’s the video showcasing Google’s future palns for this technology:
Someone at google has obviously been reading Verner Vinge’s superlative ‘Rainbows end’ (yes, the missing apostrophe is intentional). In it he describes a future in which reality augmenting contact lenses are as ubiquitous as the mobile ‘phone is today and everyone is used to constantly swimming in a sea of information that overlays and enhances the everyday reality we’re used to living in. The glasses that Google are currently working on are obviously a long way away from something you’d want to wear all the time, however researchers are already working on contact lenses with displays built in, I’d be suprised if we don’t see a reasonable (say SVGA resolution) contact lens display reaching commercial availability in the next 5 to 10 years. That may seem optimistic, but if you look at where smartphone displays were 10 years ago and compare them to today I think 10 years is being conservative if anything.
The video from google showcasing what Google Glasses will be able to do is only a taster of this new way of looking at the world, but this is one of those rare concepts that really does offer us a glimpse of the future and I for one can’t wait to see where google goes with it.