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Maybe you’ve heard about Google Glass, interactive, voice-controlled  “augmented reality smart glasses.” We covered it here and here. It sounds far out, but in a blog post written for GigaOM, Mindshare’s Paul Armstrong says that, at least for media companies, Google Glass is going to “change everything.” That’s surely an overstatement, but it’s easy to imagine where this wearable technology might take us.

Plainly speaking, this is the first piece of tech I have seen in a long time that has the potential to truly change everything. Forget tablets, forget smartphones, the technology behind Glass is not an extension of you, it literally becomes part of you.

He goes on:

This is the ultimate device that can not only benefit from contextual information but also demonstrated behavior, such as time of reading, likes, dislikes and so on. The system will quickly pick up on those variables (among many others) and soon enough take care of it automatically: no need anymore for RSS feeds, no circling, no preferences. Just read as you normally would, and it will get smarter and more precise and better at predicting your needs and wants. This fixes my main issues with the way we get news today, which still requires too much input from the user; instead Glass just gets out of the way.

Will this be wearable technology’s long sought-after killer app?

Stett Holbrook

Stett is a senior editor at MAKE with abiding interest in food and drink, bicycles, woodworking, and environmentally sound human enterprises. He is the father of two young makers.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

Contact Stett with tips and story ideas on:

*Food
*Sustainable/green design
*Science
*Young Makers
*Action sports


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Comments

  1. rocketguy1701 says:

    Nope, sorry. Until they can get past the “total dork” factor, this is going to be another Segway. A fantastic piece of technology that will see very limited adoption due to a lack of engineer comprehension of social issues surrounding said technology.

    I consider myself fairly geeky/techie, and I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing this thing. I’m not even particularly vain, I just don’t want to have to continually defend what is an even worse fashion choice than a bluetooth earwig. And frankly, it looks even dumber than some of the older rigs. This is frustrating, since I’m actually interested in a personal HUD.

    If it can be integrated into sunglasses more covertly, then it has an excellent chance, but sunglasses are like clothes these days. Better have a variety of options.

    1. Doesn’t seem any dorkier than a Bluetooth to me…

      1. rocketguy1701 says:

        Well, a bluetooth earpiece can at least be on the side of your head instead of across your face. As it is, well, if the models above look like idiots (and they do), what chance do regular folk have? (Yes, shameless steal off the brad pitt wired magazine cover, but the point still stands).

      2. adcurtin says:

        A “bluetooth” is not a thing. Calling it that is _wrong_. Bluetooth is a wireless standard. The device you’re referring to is a bluetooth headset. Just like an MP3 player is not an MP3 (which is a music file) and a USB thumbdrive is not a USB (which is a wired communication standard).

        1. Laura says:

          Given the context from his comment, it’s apparent that he was talking about the Bluetooth headsets. Annnyway, I agree with rocketguy for the most part on this one. It seems that this won’t be adapted in a casual setting until it actually becomes aesthetically pleasing.

          1. adcurtin says:

            it is pretty much always obvious that people referring to “a bluetooth” mean a headset. That doesn’t make it OK, nor does it make it correct. It is flat out wrong. Don’t call it that.

    2. Anon, a mouse says:

      Cheers on your summation. The Segway could have been successful IF and ONLY IF it had been properly marketed. Same for the bluetooth (et. al.) earwig. Introducing a brand new technology product into the consumer market is a tricky thing and should be left to the professional marketers, not the developers. Case in point is the introduction and success of bottled water…

      1. madluthier says:

        There is no reason, looking at the device, that it could not be made as an unobtrusive module that can be made to universally attach to nearly any pair of specs, be they shades, prescription or reading. Make them with different covers, much like cell covers, that appeal to the individual. Black, white, gold, silver and tortoise of different shades to compliment the specs or the personality of the individual.

  2. Charles says:

    I totally expected this to become the next Segway, if it even hit the market, until the other day…
    I got hired to play a set of Christmas songs and I didn’t know the music, so I had to work from sheet music on a stand. But that kept me from interacting with the people. And I thought, “if only I had some glasses that displayed my music, that would be pretty cool.” It would be especially cool if it listened to my playing and scrolled at my tempo.
    It all comes down to software, your standard laptop is no more fuctional than a rock without software.
    Google Glass won’t be Wearable Tech’s Killer App, what people do with it will be, that is of course if it ever sees the light of day. But, if it doesn’t I’m sure something like it will.

  3. Jim says:

    I am fairly geeky/techie and I would not mind wearing something like this – provided it comes with prescription lenses. I have no shame and am willing to jump on trends occasionally to explore a new technology. But I think I am in the minority.

    Most people aren’t willing to make that jump unless they have a really good reason.I have to agree with the previous sentiment – it’ll only go somewhere if it’s useful. I’d also argue it would have to easier to use or more intuitive than anything we’ve seen so far.

    I do agree there’d be “dork” stigma for many, though. Usefulness would break that.

  4. TiredJuan says:

    This will never be even remotely close to wearable technologies “killer app”. Maybe if there were dual screens and could be integrated into a set of prescription glasses. It’s a novel idea, and will be the forerunner of the technology that we’re all looking for though.

  5. Tom says:

    Don’t forget the Opti-Grab!

  6. Craig says:

    If we want this to be successful, you have start by never calling it a “Killer X”. It wont be. The Segway was ruined by absurd expectations. If they launched it as fun toy (off road) and a business tool (for cops) I think we would have seen much stronger consumer adoption.

    If Glass is to succeed it needs to start in an area where it can be immensely useful and cool. Like Rally racing or Red Bull Air Races. Let doctors use it in surgery and keep it on during the rounds. Get Burt Rutan to make his pilots wear them on Virgin Galactic flights.

    If they dump it on the market it will just be “The dorky new way to check email”.

  7. Google Glass will be an ENABLER for the next ‘killer app’. That is whats missing from this conversation. I can imagine some type of augmented reality really causing this to take off, especially with some type of ‘siri’ assistant, and GPS tagging along with social networking apps. Most likely the killer app that uses Google Glass has not even been thought of yet.

    The problems with the Segway was that it was ‘neat’ but not compelling for most people as-is. Security firms, etc… are certainly using these to good advantage, but as a mobility platform for the average person, it is too expensive and not useful enough. I’m surprised that the Segway technologies are not seen more use with ‘mobility impaired’ individuals.

    1. swordfishBob says:

      There may be a “killer app” someone can invent, but there’s clearly opportunities for a plethora of niche apps. Already people have mentioned displaying music, instructions for mechanical maintenance, aeroplane flight data, surgeons. Add security systems, sports training, sports officials, RC vehicle / model dashboards. Integrate a barcode or RFID reader for more applications

  8. Like most tech, this will probably be adopted by the fringe first and the folks who actually have a strong need for it. However, I agree with Christopher above in that it will enable more focused inventions to be pushed to the market.

  9. tributeautomotive says:

    Especially for tech people doing maintenance / diagnostic work, I could see this as being very helpful. It would be really cool to be able to see the instructions for working on my car, along with hands-free document navigation while I am actually doing it!

  10. [...] MAKE | Google Glass: Wearable Tech’s Killer App?. [...]

  11. Anon, a mouse says:

    This is a tool, not a fashionable consumer trend. For manufacturing, logistics, wall street, the medical industry, law enforcement, the military, you name it, this is a brilliant hands-free information delivery system. I’d punch myself in the eye if I caught sight of myself wearing this in a social setting.

  12. [...] the article Google Glass: Wearable Tech’s Killer App?, user madluthier [...]

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