Life in the real world can be so ordinary compared to the wonders and visions available through the modern miracle of cyberspace. But fear not, there's an app for that too, and its made by Google, rather than Apple.
According to a report in Thursday's New York Times, some of the company's top brains are working on a new type of glasses that will project content in the user's field of vision and which could be used to automatically offer facts about the places, people and experiences encountered in everyday life.
The gadget may sound like the alcohol-fuelled visions of a bored science-fiction fan, but according to the report, it is actually in an advanced state of development at Google X, the company's top secret lab facility at its Mountain View headquarters.
Powered by a version of Android that is currently the world's most popular mobile operating system, the goggles will be equipped with GPS and motion sensors, as well as a camera and audio ports. The glasses look similar to the Thump glasses made by Oakley, which double as an MP3 player with connected earbuds. The user interface is said to be driven by head gestures.
The glasses would be able to augment your experiences by connecting over the internet to Google's all-knowing servers. They would give you information about places, shopping deals or sports games, for instance.
They could use facial recognition technology to help you remember people, while advertisers will be able to pump you with ads wherever you go. They also could be used for augmented reality games "that use the real world as the playground," the report said.
The company already has most of the technology to make this happen. A program called Google Goggles, for instance, is able to recognize images snapped on a camera and provide relevant information about them. According to PC World, the glasses will cost between 250 and 600 dollars for a pair with one computerized lens.
You might expect the gadget-worshipping blogosphere to be going gaga over Google's latest invention. But some of the initial reactions are ones of creeped-out skepticism, that maybe this whole mobile internet thing has really gone too far this time.
"We all knew this augmented reality product was eventually coming, but it is now looking literally like a disaster (or more) waiting to happen," wrote Damon Brown in PCWorld. "Glasses are actually the final piece to Google's mission: To know what a user doing every single moment of the day," Brown writes.
Information Week pointed out potential problems of liability, radiation health risks and battery issues, and the device will have clear privacy challenges.
"Like so many of our 'living in the future' gadgets and connections, the possibilities are both amazingly exciting and a bit troubling all at once," wrote Kate Cox of the game site Kokatu. "Perhaps we'll all end up as brainless addicts, like they did in Star Trek."
Still, Cox was pretty excited about what the glasses would mean for games. "If you literally saw the Joker disappearing around the corner ahead of you, would you chase him?"
There are also the safety challenges of, say, driving while wearing the glasses. But maybe these can be overcome easily. We can all just switch to the self-driving cars that Google is also hoping to introduce in the not too distant future.
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