In the grand scheme of things, it won’t be long now before we start seeing people on the street proudly displaying their pair of Google AR glasses. Admittedly, it’ll likely be a few more years after that before we see a fully functioning, bug free version (new technologies are almost always buggy in their initial forms) but we can be fairly sure that they’ll exist one day in the not-so-distant future.
With that in mind, we can start to consider some of the ways in which an augmented reality society can change our lives – and not in the ways depicted in the promo videos.
The fact is that most of us don’t live a life like the man in the videos – we have jobs, we find ourselves in social situations we want to get out of and we can’t afford to spend all day learning to play the ukulele.
Primarily, it’s the second point I’m interested in here – if you’ve ever been trapped in a conversation you don’t want to be in (and we all have) then what’s the first thing you do? For a lot of us, the intuitive answer would be to pop your phone out of your pocket and answer a convenient mystery call or reply to a suspiciously well timed text. If you’re ever on the other side of that, then it tends to be a pretty clear signal to stop talking and enjoy your own company for a minute.
Imagine now that rather than receiving messages and emails to your phone it’s all being displayed right in front of your eyes – how much harder would it be to give off the same impression if you’re stuck staring seemingly right at the person you’re trying to get away from? It doesn’t even have to be so cynical; you could be enjoying the conversation of a lifetime only to give off the wrong impression because text keeps popping up and distracting you.
I don’t for a minute mean to suggest that all of these unintended uses will be for the worse. It doesn’t take too much explaining to see how the crime detection rate could be improved by a society in which there’s practically always someone videoing what’s going on – without the criminal necessarily realising they’re being recorded.
Imagine if all the staff in a diamond shop wore the glasses all day at work – would we see less theft for fear of them being directly hooked up to the police?
What started as a relatively minute portion of the internet is now a huge and growing business. Companies that offer daily deals on products and services such as Groupon and Living Social are booming, and it’s practically becoming instinct to have a look around online for money off vouchers before you go out somewhere.
Imagine then if these companies could be linked in with Google Glasses – rather than trawling through pages of voucher codes we could have the best deals in a shop displayed right above the door before we walk in. What’s more, Google would be able to monitor which deals work for us and tailor what it provides to give us the best value.
I have to admit, this one’s a bit extreme and perhaps I’m putting a little bit too much thought into it, but with technology able to see everything you see, hear everything you say and monitor who you’re with, the more cynical amongst us can’t help but think it all has a hint of George Orwell’s 1984 about it.
In the book, Orwell wrote of how individual privacy was continually invaded for the good of the totalitarian state. Of course, all this sounds a bit more sinister than what Google probably has planned, but it won’t stop certain minds from wondering exactly what is being done with all the data the glasses take from us.
I could go on for quite some time yet, but the fact is that you just can’t predict every aspect of our lives the glasses will (or won’t) find a place in. I’m keen to see exactly how much the technology can do, and I don’t think it’ll be long now before my curiosity is sated.