I still remember the mid-1990s in which people in Europe found it rude when you would make a phone call on the street or in a public place. “Why could you not wait until you are home to make that call?” or “Why is that person trying to show that he/she is important?” were things you heard when people discussed it. Even I did not see the necessity of having a mobile phone until around 1998 – people could leave a message on my answer machine at home or on my voice mail in the office, that seemed good enough. Of course things changed when more people started to get mobile phones and everybody realized the convenience of using them. Within the time span of 2 years mobile phones became socially acceptable and suddenly everybody seemed to want one.
I think the same will happen with Google Glass, the glasses-like wearable computer that projects messages and can record or broadcast your life. In my opinion this is a huge game changer for the way we will live our lives, very similar to how mobile phones changed the world as we know it. At first people will probably make “you’re showing off” comments and don’t understand why such a device would be useful (“I have a smartphone, why would I need Google Glass?”), until more people start using it and everybody suddenly can’t imagine a world without these devices anymore.
I have not seen Google Glass in action yet, but the video that Google released yesterday gives a good overview of what the device does: you can receive messages, read important news, make video calls and basically do everything you would now do with your smartphone. The big difference is that Google Glass will be always on (if you wear it of course) and people won’t notice what you are doing, except when you give voice commands to the device. Because of video streaming capabilities this will really be the end of privacy and it will be another huge boost for online video and social media (don’t sell your Facebook shares yet!). I think eventually almost everything that happens will be recorded by someone and will be available instantly to the whole world.
Google Glass will be an additional brain and the people that will adopt to it first could have a huge advantage. I now already constantly Google things on my phone to get additional information on things I see or do, with Google Glass there will be a whole new dimension to this. It may seem like science fiction now, but I can imangine that if you are in a discussion your device can give you addtional information on the topic while you are talking. Or imagine sitting in a restaurant where you can see the names and other information of everybody guest through a combination of face recognition and augmented reality. Literally world changing!
However, the massive amount of data that the average Internet user has available will become even more of a burden than it currently is. Online curation will become much more important. Not manual curation (that would be too slow) but automatic tools to sift through data and to only show what is most relevant to you at that moment based on where you are and what you are doing. Companies that can deliver this kind of real-time algorithms and execute well can become huge. Facebook is doing a decent job there with its timeline, but it can still be improved a lot.
The way we will consume news will change as well. Hamish McKenzie at the PandoDaily published an excellent piece on this just now. Among others he writes that more than before news will come to you instead of that you are looking for news, a bit like a feed of important messages that occasionally pop up. The packaging of news will be more important, a good picture with a short but clear headline is likely all that can be projected (Twitter’s 140 characters!). The news you get will be contextually relevant, but for longer pieces you will still use other devices.
It’s fascinating what will happen. Even though the current design is still super nerdy I can’t wait to get my hands on my first Google Glass device. Too bad we’ll probably still have to wait another year before this product will hit the market for everyone.