Google Glass: Culture Shock Or Storage Bonanza?

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Chris Preimesberger preferred

Will Google Glass, capturing everything we say and do, make us more honest? Chris Preimesberger can only be sure it will use more storage

Do we want the ability to record any given moment of our lives using unobtrusive technology? Google is betting the answer to this is yes.

The storage part of this process is already possible, because it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to use. The actual video and data transmission to the cloud is now being tested, thanks to the Google research and development group.

The company’s Project Glass prototype was demonstrated before 6,000 attendees at last week’s Google I/O conference in San Francisco. Co-founder Sergey Brin came onstage to introduce Google Glass, which comprises an Android-powered display, a tiny webcam, a GPS locator and Internet connection node built into one side of a pair of glasses. The glasses are lightweight and may or may not have lenses — sunglass-type or otherwise.

Google Glass in free fall

Brin then introduced a live demonstration, in which two skydivers wearing Google Glasses hovered 1,500 feet above the Moscone West building in an old-fashioned (but increasingly popular for Bay Area air cruises) airship before jumping out and landing safely on the roof.

Every second of their brief downward journey at 120 mph was webcast live and recorded in Google’s cloud storage system; fortunately, it was a blue-sky day in San Francisco, and the view from up above was spectacular.

After they landed without injury, the skydivers — with their Glasses still running – handed off a package to two Glass-equipped stunt bikers, who did a couple of tricks before handing off to a pair of Glass-equipped climbers, who subsequently repelled down a glass-window side of the building. Eventually, the whole team jogged into the auditorium to the loud cheers of the crowd and handed Brin the package.

What was actually in the package? No one cared.

It was a stunt those guys – and the crowd, as well as a live webcast audience – probably will never forget.

What use are Google Glasses?

Use cases for Google Glass, and other wearable computing systems like it, could be epic. They would be unequaled for legal depositions, crime investigations, “he said/she said” disputes, auto accidents, sporting disputes, sightseeing, recording “how-to’s,” ghost explorations, simply visiting with friends and family — you name it.

In any case, a whole new IT market is already in the works right now. Google co-founder Larry Page (pictured) is promoting Glass heavily to the development community, and for good reason. Other companies already are beginning to jump on this, hoping to become standard providers of this future tech. Google says it’s probably a year away from a commercially ready system.

The king of IT secrecy, Apple, is said to have submitted a patent application and to be putting substantial time and effort into this. Japanese camera-maker Olympus on 5 July was one of the first to make an announcement about a similar device, revealing that it is working on a new wearable computer called MEG4.0.

Olympus posted a press release about this in Japanese on its Website. The translation into English by Google was a little rough: “”(Meg 4.0) MEG4.0″ ultra-compact wearable display prototype can be used in everyday life. Equipped with Bluetooth, such as smart phones and wireless connection can be. In addition, at the same time to achieve a compact, lightweight, low power consumption, was also enables continuous use for a long time. The company has a research and development of wearable display than ever before. MEG4.0, the newly developed prototype is that brings together the technology developed to date,” it read in part.

Cultural change?

The Olympus version uses Bluetooth to connect to smartphones and other devices, then displays data (such as email, mobile Websites and imagery) on its lenses. It’s not a real-time webcam like Google’s, but it is nonetheless wearable computing.

Devices like these stand a good chance of changing our cultures. What we say and how we say it can be recorded at any time and filed in some cloud service for future reference. With smartphone addiction already afflicting hundreds of millions of people, how will perpetual video of everyday life and the ability to check email simply by looking up and to the right affect us? Will we suddenly become a more truthful society?

Google’s demonstration on June 27 made some good points. While we are reaching for our cameras and smartphones to get a photo of a child giggling, for example, we often miss the best expressions while we’re busy and looking away, setting up the photo. With Google Glass, you miss nothing and save everything.

Of course all that video can be edited down, but that would be a tedious job, taking up hours of time each day. The repercussions of this are many, and we will revisit them in eWEEK as time goes along.

One thing we know for sure: The storage companies can’t wait for these to get into the markets and onto users’ heads.

Do you have 20-20 vision of Google’s secrets? Try our quiz!

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