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Not Even Investors Know What Google Glass Is For 496

bdking writes "Google says it plans to ship its Google Glass Explorer Edition by the end of April to developers and consumers who paid $1,500 to test the computer-enabled eyewear, with vague plans for a general release (at a lower price) by year's end. But what will you really be able to do with Google Glass, beyond having information presented before your eyes? Even investors who are set to spend millions funding apps development for Google Glass have no clue. Is Google Glass being overhyped as a 'transformational' device?" I bet every real estate agent in the world would like one of these hooked up to a database of houses for sale, so they could instantly scan all the relevant information.
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Not Even Investors Know What Google Glass Is For

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  • by Gerafin ( 1408009 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:21PM (#43426275)
    One word: advertising. Right in front of your eyes is the most prime advertising space I can imaine.
  • by swanzilla ( 1458281 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:24PM (#43426309) Homepage

    If the thing had good enough heading and position information, it could overlay detailed information on the real world. But it's not that good. It's just a smartphone display.

    Too bad smartphones don't ship with GPS receivers, accelerometers, gyroscopes...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:26PM (#43426329)
    Google has made it clear that making Glass minimally distracting is a major design goal. Showing advertising on it doesn't mesh well with that. Obviously advertising is Google's main business and it's reasonable to assume Glass feeds into that somehow, but I suspect it's for data collection, not display of ads.
  • by DavidinAla ( 639952 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:28PM (#43426357)
    There will be a few real-world uses for Glass that are positive and cost-effective. For the vast majority, this device is a non-starter at any price, IMO. If you want to walk around pretending you're in a sci-fi movie, yeah, it's probably great if you're a 14-year-old, but most people aren't going to have a use for this AND they're not going to want to be seen wearing it AND it's not going to be socially acceptable. Once again, this is technology desperately in search of a problem to solve to justify its existence.
  • Golf (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HoboCop ( 987492 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:29PM (#43426371)

    I could see that thing being awesome for golf... they already do GPS through smart phones.. if it can tell you how far away an object is in your field of vision, pretty darn spiffy.. show you a trail where your ball went, display your swing trajectory in your field of view for analysis... lots of cool things. Plus golfers will spend that kind of money.

  • Re:Like the iPad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mtb_ogre ( 698802 ) <theogre.ogrehut@net> on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:33PM (#43426411) Homepage

    Apple was able to tell people all the cool things they could do with an iPad.

    Google: "You tell us what it's good for!"

    When the inventor can't easily explain what the best uses for their invention are, it's a safe bet there really aren't any.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:37PM (#43426459) Journal

    Given the...how to put this politely... 'strongly habituated'... cellphone-checking among a large number of people, I'd say that the closest analogy would probably be selling infusion pumps to heroin junkies.

    By making 'pulling out your phone and compulsively checking it all the goddamn time, even when in company' entirely seamless and automatic, Glass allows you to indulge your vices even further, while exhibiting the formerly required movements much less often...

    I thought Sergei's(deeply weird) comments about being 'emasculated' by his phone were actually sort of telling with regards to the strange contradiction underlying the 'Glass' concept.

    So, Sergei comes to the realization that damn do I spend a lot of my life, even when I'm ostensibly doing other things, basically poking at the little colored lights that live inside my cellphone, what am I doing? However, instead of adopting the "Hmm, maybe I should try doing less of that" approach, he goes for the "I know, I'll build a system where I no longer find myself clutching my cellphone alarmingly frequently; because it's hovering in front of my eye all the time!".

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:43PM (#43426555)

    Driving is when I want augmented reality the most. Give me a GPS overlay with directions and when it gets dark/foggy/rainy give me vision in other spectrum. Display my current speed and the legal limit where I am, basically I want a damn HUD.

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:53PM (#43426723)
    >>>One word: advertising. Right in front of your eyes.

    I really don't think masses will tolerate always-on advertising in a classical banner-video format in the visual field space. Plus liability that would come when people start claiming accidents on distraction.

    Advertising will have to be done via shaping your information feed and not by distracting or grabbing your attention.
  • by greenfruitsalad ( 2008354 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:53PM (#43426729)

    one needs to wait for the second or third generation to have those fancy bits in. how are they meant to make money off the same people again if the 1st device is good enough?

  • by FrankSchwab ( 675585 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:54PM (#43426749) Journal

    In a previous life, I spent a lot of time hang gliding. Competition and Cross-Country pilots have to hang multiple instruments on their control bars - variometers, GPS's, radios - to maximize their performance. This is a problem area, as the $1000 worth of instruments are in an easily damaged location which also reduces performance due to air drag.

    Google Glass would be a huge advancement here - stick your $200 cell phone where it gets good reception and is protected, use it for GPS, mapping, and communications functions, add a small cheap variometer interfaced to your phone. You'll have far better information, your instruments will be cheaper and your software will be vastly better, and your physical performance will improve by taking all that stuff out of the airstream.

    This, I think, is an example of the niche markets that no marketer in his right mind would build a product to meet, but combined with 1000 other niches could start to make the product ubiquitous. /frank

  • Healthcare! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZaphDingbat ( 451843 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:55PM (#43426761)

    Good grief, people! Healthcare!

    "Glass, call the RT." "This is the RT. Can I help you?" "Can you have a look at this man's breathing? We're not sure what's going on..."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:06PM (#43426959)

    Leave it on continuously and tell me how long your phone's battery lasts. Constantly polling the camera and other sensors and overlaying that data correctly enough to be useful (and for something like driving it has to be damn near perfect to be safe) will drain a battery of that size in a few minutes.

    This tech is being held back by the same limiting factor by which all mobile tech is being held back: batteries. Batteries are terrible. They've been terrible for a long time and barely gotten better. It takes all the improvements in chemistry we can muster just to keep up with the increased power draw. That's why phones today actually have shorter battery life than the phones of five years ago, and those phones had shorter battery lives than the ones made five years before them.

    Until we see a revolution in battery technology there won't be a truly phenomenal Google Glass-like product that lives up to our expectations of what augmented reality should be. Glass is just going to be a persistent external display for your phone with a forward looking camera and mic. It's a smartphone resting on your ears and nose instead of carried in your pocket. This new form factor will allow some clever new tricks, probably even compelling enough to enjoy moderate success, but it's going to be disappointing compared to what could be possible if battery life was no issue.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:09PM (#43426993)

    When I am in the car, my battery should never deplete. My car surely makes enough electrical power for this task.

    Phones today could have much longer battery lives if we did not sacrifice all the alter of thin. My galaxy nexus is more comfortable to hold with the extended battery pack. The entire device could be that thick and it would allow even more battery life.

    Yeah, they suck, but we also make them way too small.

  • Re:Like the iPad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:17PM (#43427095) Homepage Journal

    "When the inventor can't easily explain what the best uses for their invention are, "
    how naive.

    In the hardware industry, the best application seldom come from the company that developed it. Best game seldom come the the console makers, then best application for the iPad didn't come from Apple, and so on.

  • Re:Like the iPad? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:31PM (#43427289) Homepage Journal

    Honestly, I didn't feel after the Stevenote like I knew what the iPad was for any more than I felt I knew what Google Glasses was for after watching the video they produced. In fact, in many ways they're similar: devices that duplicate the functionality of an existing object (a laptop/netbook vs a smartphone) using a radically different user interface.

    And just as I felt "Yeah, but the iPad's going to feel like crap the moment someone actually tries to do any serious writing or whatever on it", I felt "Yeah, Google Glasses is going to be a hell of a lot less interesting when it's being used in a cubicle at work for seven and a half hours a day, rather than when I skydive out of a plane and quickly take a picture and share it with seven friends using Google+"

    The iPad comparison does seem apt. It appears, at any rate, to be a crappy way of doing the things it's advertised as being for compared to the existing tools for the job, but it may be slick enough, and its UI friendly enough, that it doesn't matter what it appears to be.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:46PM (#43427461) Homepage Journal

    Who's gonna buy the 1st-generation device if it doesn't have those things?

    The crapload of developers who already dropped $1,500 on one, for starters.

  • by thereitis ( 2355426 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @06:10PM (#43427711) Journal
    I'm interested in knowing more about the long term health effects of wearing Google Glass. Apparently binocular rivalry [wikipedia.org] may be of concern.
  • by Joe Tie. ( 567096 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @07:53PM (#43428501)
    I think there's going to be a large chunk of people impulse buying it based on what they simply think it can do. The public perception of glass was in large part created way before the actual reality of it was demonstrated. A lot of those people will have enough money that they'll have no problem buying it without doing any real research first. That said, I'm sure there's a fair amount of people who'll buy it because they actually do want some of the features it offers. God knows I've seen enough facebook feeds with people snapping pictures of mundane things to know there's a market for making that easier for them.
  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @10:44PM (#43429379)
    That's about how to code, not what to code. There is a difference.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle