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'Wearable Computing Will Be the Norm,' Says Google Glass Team 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the beam-the-internet-directly-into-my-skull dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In an interview with Wired, Google's Steve Lee and Babak Parviz spoke about how they've come to use Project Glass in their lives, and where they expect the mobile computing industry to go in the near future. 'We've long thought the camera's important, but since we've started using this in public and with our family and friends and in real situations, not just hidden in the Google lab, we've truly seen the power of being hands-free. ... It's my expectation that in three to five years it will actually look unusual and awkward when we view someone holding an object in their hand and looking down at it. Wearable computing will become the norm.'"
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'Wearable Computing Will Be the Norm,' Says Google Glass Team

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  • People with all the smart phones around, people with blue tooth headphones in their ears, it's already 'the norm', it's just it's not very convenient to have various electronic interfaces sticking out of your body, once the technology allows people to have all of this stuff on their bodies without the inconvenience of wires, weird gadgets that make you look like an Apocalypse Now character [wikipedia.org], then it will be part of daily life.

    • Re:already the norm (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @08:16AM (#40509911) Homepage

      I find it convenient. If you buy a non crappy BT headset you don't even notice you are wearing it. I also find it convieient that I dont need the headset in the car and the car is a large speakerphone so everyone can join in on the call. Finally, my BT helmet completes the trifecta while I am on the motorcycle.

      What is inconvenient, is that Car makers and helmet makers are too lazy to make a proper HUD system to show information in my line of sight.

      Having a camera/webcam strapped to my head is not highly important in any way. I already have that in my secondary BT headset, a LooxCie camera/BT headset. It's actually quite worthless having a camera on my head all day long, unless I want to live cast boring as hell things... Which is what people do with these.

      The biggest convenience is I can easily unplug by removing the headset and upgrades to newer tech at a whim. Silly people that want surgery to have their interface will always be using way out of date hardware.

      Anyone using implants will be using tech that is at least 5 years out of date, the FDA approval of devices for implant will take at least that long. Let alone that the $199 premium headset will cost $999 plus $12,500 for insertion by a surgeon.

      • by karnal (22275)

        I would LOVE to have an HUD in my motorcycle helmet! Some bike makers' styling prefers to put a speedo and other pertinent information down on the gas tank (mainly cruisers, which are more popular in the US) and I find that to be disconcerting in high traffic areas. Keeping track of your speed shouldn't take you away from your main job - staying alert and aware of what's happening around you in traffic. Can you tell my current bike is a cruiser? My next one will probably be an adventure-touring bike sim

        • Re:already the norm (Score:4, Informative)

          by stg (43177) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @01:24PM (#40511335) Homepage

          I am aware of 3 or 4 car models already with HUDs, including the Camaro. Honda Civic's in the last few years have a big digital speed display above the steering wheel. It is much easier to read and I am always bothered when driving another car with a regular speedometer...

          I have also seen speed HUDs for skiers before with special glasses, aren't there any already for bikes?

      • by oursland (1898514)
        I have a coworker who just picked up a 2012 BMW 328i, which has a HUD integrated into the line of sight. The technology is there, but it is only available for the early adopters that can afford it.
      • by holmedog (1130941)

        Anyone using implants will be using tech that is at least 5 years out of date, the FDA approval of devices for implant will take at least that long. Let alone that the $199 premium headset will cost $999 plus $12,500 for insertion by a surgeon.

        I believe you are sort-of correct. The (surgically implanted) interface will be ~5 years out of date, but the actual device connecting will be up to date. At least that is the way I envision it.

  • by houghi (78078) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @05:44AM (#40509553)

    Self adjusting clothing, self closing shoes and a hoverboard.

    • by antdude (79039)

      What about flying cars? That should be #1 especially for me when I can't drive. We know Google is working on automated drivings.

  • by bmo (77928) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @05:44AM (#40509555)

    ... when you saw someone standing alone and talking, sometimes even getting animated and agitated, you thought they were crazy.

    Now you look and hope they're wearing a bluetooth headset before making a judgement.

    Soon, with the further miniaturisation of wearable computing, you won't be able to tell the difference between a gesticulating drunken bum, and a drunken, gesticulating businessman.

    --
    BMO

    • by pitchpipe (708843)

      ...you won't be able to tell the difference between a gesticulating drunken bum, and a drunken, gesticulating businessman.

      One is a babbling idiot, the other is homeless.

    • by am 2k (217885)

      ... when you saw someone standing alone and talking, sometimes even getting animated and agitated, you thought they were crazy.

      Now you look and hope they're wearing a bluetooth headset before making a judgement.

      That's still not decisive... The headset might not be on.

    • by antdude (79039)

      What about when those things get very tiny or even invisible/cloaked? ;)

  • by xynopsis (224788) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @05:45AM (#40509561)

    I once saw this concept video [youtube.com]video at Nokia Research Centre in Helsinki more than 3 years ago. Too bad Nokia failed to capitalise it on time and now they are failing big time.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      the idea is much older than that.

      what nokia did there was that it had the budget for the video.

      3-5 years isn't going to cut for this stuff to breakthrough though.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by roman_mir (125474)

      In commercials they always show these happy people who have nice houses, often on a beach, they have nice loans and other property, they have time to do nothing but laugh for some reason, their teeth are perfectly white and their clothing looks fresh and it's sunny.

      Here is what they don't show [wikipedia.org].

      Seriously though, all these ear buds and other types of earphones that go inside the ear - I can't use them. None of them, they fall out, I would like to be able to use them, but I think my ears are too small or somet

      • by dargaud (518470)
        As for earbuds falling out, you can make your own custom earbuds [amazon.com]. As for the pain after freezing skin: it comes back to normal if you use it regularly. It took me 6 months for the pain to go away each time I froze my toes [gdargaud.net]. But for an ear, which you don't touch often, I don't know. You should try massaging it when your hands are not on the keyboard... C;-)
  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @05:54AM (#40509585) Homepage

    they patent the heck out of it, share it with their Android partners, and kick Apple to the curb for violating the unstated rules of the tech patent game.

    • by Swampash (1131503)

      they patent the heck out of it, share it with their Android partners

      You mean competitors, right?

      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        Cooptitioners.

        They're both competing and cooperating.

        They major reason for buying Motorola was for the patents; the reason for that being Apple's move.

    • by cmdrbuzz (681767)

      What are the unstated rules of the tech patent game? We can copy you, but if you try and stop us we will attempt to sue you with FRAND patents?

      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        The unstated rules were that the patents were merely defensive.

        You noticed the Motorola patents but not Apple trying to stop Google and Samsung sales?

        There was plenty of black, rounded corner, icon tech before Apple's iBlahs:
        Knight-Ridder Tablet
        Space Odyssey
        LG Prada
        Samsung picture frame
        Joojoo tablet
        Prizm software stack
        Bauhaus

        • by cmdrbuzz (681767)

          And the patents ARE being used defensively as in "We will defend ourselves using our patents from you copying our research and development efforts"

          And the vast majority of the patents are for things other than the physical look. For example the data detector patents are from old Mac OS and Newton tech, way before Google and Motorola even started work on Android. (Admittedly I think blocking import of a phone over a data detector patent is crazy, but thats the way its played out)

          To violate a "design patent

        • by Wovel (964431)

          Still sticking to the black-rounded-corner argument? I guess you don't get out much.

    • by Wovel (964431)

      It is cute how naive you are. They are not going to share it with their Android partners,

  • by tftp (111690) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @06:01AM (#40509603) Homepage

    Wearable computing will continue, since modern smartphones are pretty close to the desired ideal.

    However many proponents of wearable computing are explicitly associating it to wearing headsets, Borg-like heads-up displays, cameras, GPS, implanted compasses, and whatnot. These, IMO, will not be popular just because there is no need for them. Even the heads-up display is a distraction for most people. A cell phone form factor is with us since the days of ancient clay tablets. It is something that we are well equipped to operate - we can take it, give it, leave it, look at it, and work with it. I can imagine a communicator from ST:TNG as well. But even those communicators, as shown, are pretty limited. They had no video, for example - and many an away team would benefit from that. They would be better off with a modern smartphone, actually, as long as it can communicate with the orbit.

    At most I can imagine a heads-up display that is wirelessly linked to the smartphone in your pocket. That would have some use. Beyond that I don't see anything obvious; perhaps future developments give us other hardware that is worth wearing.

    Also in all these cases we must remember that the battery technology is still not good enough. Replacing batteries in all these wearable gizmos is a hassle - and a visible expense.

    • by wild_quinine (998562) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @07:10AM (#40509767) Homepage

      At most I can imagine a heads-up display that is wirelessly linked to the smartphone in your pocket. That would have some use. Beyond that I don't see anything obvious; perhaps future developments give us other hardware that is worth wearing.

      Every year or two somebody comes up with something that "could replace the mouse". It never does. I'm not saying never will, but I don't see anything coming. Why? Because the mouse is pretty close to perfect. It allows for fine manipulation from the wrist and/or fingertips without fatigue - in fact the arm is almost at rest. Only the nipple, trackball, and touchpad have ever really come close, and I'd argue that most people consider them to be acceptable compromises.

      Kinaesthetic peripherals such as the Kinect, the Wiimote, the Move, Gyroscopic mice, heck, even the Gloves of Love from Minority Report - none of them are never going to become ubiquitious input devices like the mouse, because none of them are better than the mouse for general purpose input, in these really fundamental ways. If you want fine motor movement, you generally don't want to get the whole arm involved.

      All novel ways to interact with the world are up against similar issues. They can't all be directly compared to the mouse, but for genuinely novel ways of interacting with the world, consider these three questions: 'is it a hassle to use?', 'can you forget it is there?*', and eventually, 'do you look for it, when it is not there?'.

      A lot of wearable computing devices won't even pass the first test - you're right about the batteries being a likely issue. Keeping five or six items charged is going to be a pain. But also consider fatigue, fineness of control, etc.

      * under 'can you forget it is there?', consider also 'are you always looking for the thing you know exists, which would be simpler to use'... such as a mouse, or sometimes a keyboard. :)

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Glass isn't designed to replace anything. It gives you a new heads up display and an always on camera.

      • by rdnetto (955205)

        No one expects wearable computing to replace desktops. No one expects tablets or smartphones to replace them either, but that hasn't stopped them from becoming popular.

        Wearable computing, like smartphones/tablets, is about providing seamless access to technology when you're away from the computer. It seeks to supplant the smartphone, not the desktop.

      • by Snaller (147050)

        "Why? Because the mouse is pretty close to perfect. It allows for fine manipulation from the wrist and/or fingertips without fatigue - in fact the arm is almost at rest."

        Yet hundreds of thousands of people get injuries from using the mouse.

        As for you refusing to accept other and future input devices is not insightful, thats just you being old enough to be a Luddite stuck in your ways.

        Lets hope you can live with the future others design for you.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @08:30AM (#40509963) Homepage

      Oddly, I wear a dead heads up display panel all day long every day, they are called GLASSES. it's just the projector display section is defective, but the image enhancement section still works.

    • by Lysol (11150)

      Yah, I totally agree. I think this will be a mostly Google thing and maybe extreme nerds. Sorta like how the Segway was gonna take over the world and it never did. I already wear glasses and I don't necessarily want some thick rimmed things with a hud messing w/any of my vision. My goal with wearing 'real' glasses is to have the frames as lightweight as possible and as little metal as possible - glass only almost. And, unfortunately, I have 2 prescriptions - 1 for close, 1 for distance. So I'd have to have

    • by LS (57954)

      what about a low profile heads up display that overlays something in the form factor of a tablet over ANY object in your view and allows you to interact with it the same as a tablet, using a kinect-style input device? Wearable computing could be considered a super-set of the tablet form factor, not mutually exclusive. You are still thinking in terms of usability and comfort issues of wearable computing, but when it becomes invisible and transparent, i.e. you don't even realize you are wearing it, and the

      • by tftp (111690)

        As I vaguely made it known, I worked (not too far back) in the area of mobile industrial computing. UPS and FedEx are just a small part of the crowd that runs around with tablets, barcode scanners, RFID readers, and transmits all that over the radio direct into the mainframe.

        Very few of those guys would want anything that is more sophisticated than a rugged UPS tablet. Why? Because it is rugged. You'd be amazed to learn what requirements - real, necessary requirements - shipping companies specify for thes

        • by LS (57954)

          You miss my point entirely. I'm not claiming these issues will be solved within 10 or even 20 years. I'm speaking theoretically. 50 years ago, someone would have said the same thing you are saying about handheld tablet devices. Sometime in the future, it will be clear that there will be shared UI that will be visible and interactive for everyone within range, without any obvious equipment usage. And over time it will be made reliable under severe conditions. The military already uses this type of equi

    • 4 business men were out playing golf, a Brit, an American, a German & a Japanese.

      While teeing up for a shot the Brit pauses and apologises, "Sorry, I have to take this." He raises his cuff to his ear and speaks into his lapel, conducting business. He explains afterwards that he has this new tech that allows him to have a wearable phone.

      A short while later the american is about to take a shot and he too pauses, holds his thumb to his ear and little finger to mouth and also conducts business, explaining a

  • by Lisias (447563) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @06:28AM (#40509653) Homepage Journal

    ... see the implications on the professional life.

    I want to see a manager blatantly lying to me when wearing one of those. :-)

  • Agree and Disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @06:38AM (#40509685)

    It's my expectation that in three to five years...

    I agree with their view and disagree with it. I agree that wearable computers are the future but I disagree with their timeline - I believe "three to five years" is an enormously, overly aggressive timeframe.

    First of all, project Glass is coming to market next year at a price of $1400 (iirc) and is only available for developers (currently - which I would imagine means the price is as low as possible to help get developers involved rather than to generate profits). This is already one year of their three-to-five timeframe eaten up. While I realize that price will come down as the tech gets better and once it's made available to the general public economies of scale will also help drive the price down, I believe there's still far too big a difference between "price the tech has to be sold at to make it a viable business" and "price most consumers are willing to pay". So, first of all, I believe the price is a significant barrier and it will take longer than three to five years to get the price into a realm where the average consumer feels comfortable paying for the tech.

    Second, and more importantly, people have zero experience with the interface. Smartphones were set to explode because people a) understood phones and b) understood computers so the marriage of the two as a technology as easy to understand and required minimal learning to use. It was easy for the mass market to pick up and go. For something like project Glass, I cannot see the average person easily figuring out how to use it. Now, understand, this is absolutely independent of how easy it actually is to use - it might be the easiest, most intuitive thing in the world to use but people won't feel that it's easy to use because they've never used anything like it which will serve as a barrier to adoption. People intuitively knew how to use a phone and knew how to use a computer so selling them a phone that was a computer was easy. Selling them a set of glasses that is also a computer will not be an easy sell. Thus, there needs to be a significant amount of effort spent making that usage scenario _feel_ easy and intuitive to the average consumer before they will actually pick up the device and that will only happen over time. It will happen, eventually, but it will take time.

    All in all, I agree that wearable computer devices will become the norm but I think that "three to five years" is an enormously optimistic timeframe. There will be early adopters and the like but it will take at least a decade, probably a bit longer, before it solidly penetrates the mass market and becomes "normal".

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Your information is way out of date.

      $1400 now for developers. $799 next year. they already released that next year they will be available for nearly have the price they released them at IO for.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        $1400 now for developers. $799 next year. they already released that next year they will be available for nearly have the price they released them at IO for.

        Until your average schmoe can go in and get them for free or at least deeply subsidized from their phone provider, they're not going to take over for anything. It's going to have to come down to about $400 for that at best.

    • by Snaller (147050)

      It's not "coming to market" - a TINY group of developers (Americans who were present at the IO when the offer was made) were allowed to pay for a prototype (1500$) - and the price was high to try and discourage riff raff.

      Brin hopes to bring it to market in 2014. The final retail price will be much different.

      As for getting people to understand it, they are focusing on just a camera to record precious moments from your life, because people understand cameras and many grouse over not getting a shot of their ki

    • A pair of prescription eyeglasses with designer frames can easily cost upwards of $1000 dollars or more. Project Glass is going disrupt the current eyeglass industry, as a whole new augmented eyeglasses market is going to open up. It's going to be very interesting times for LensCrafters, Cohen Fashion Optical, Pearle Vision... (and I'd be selling their stock right now if I owned any). Will they go the way of the recording industry and resist the change? Or will they be more like Barnes and Noble and tr
    • The first iPad was only 2 years ago. True, it wasn't $1400, but it also wasn't wearable. If this is out initially within the year, then in 3 years it is quite possible that anyone who wants one will have one.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @06:55AM (#40509737)

    We know that any piece of personal technology that CAN support advertising WILL be used for that purpose - whether we want it to, or not. Imagine how intrusive it would be to be using the Google Glass technology to look at something and suddenly an ad. pops up trying to sell us something that looks like what we're looking at.

    What's even worse will be the privacy issues. Not only will advertisers be able to track the users as they can now, with 3G, Wifi and BT triangulation, but they'll be able to infiltrate our state of mind by interpreting what or who we're looking at.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Not on any device I own. I have advertising blocked on everything. Heck I dont even watch LIVE TV. It's all recorded via MythTV and commercials stripped. I listen to podcasts and Sirius radio in the car, no ad's on my phones or PC.

      If you just sit there and let them have control, they will blast ad's at you. Dont let them.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Google don't do pop up ads.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @06:56AM (#40509741) Homepage Journal
    I was just thinking to myself the other day, you know Google doesn't have QUITE enough information about me in their databases, wouldn't it be wonderful if they could track my every motion and everything I see too? Then my life would be complete.
  • Funny, I see it as being handcuffed.

    And I'm sure the gubmint will joyfully go along with that.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @07:25AM (#40509799) Journal

    If you haven't seen the Leap motion (and no I'm not in any way shape or form connected to the company, although I wish I were!) you should check it out.

    It's a super-accurate (I think sub-millimeter), low latency 3D tracker with the ability to follow up to 10 fingers (or other objects like pencils) at once. All in a very small box (USB powered?) box that's expected to sell for $70 (this year). I don't know the volume in which it can track the objects but on the demos it appears to be pretty large, large enough that a belt mounted (or necklace version) would be sufficient.

    Voice recognition is good and getting better but there are many time when a point and click(?) interface is still much more efficient. Like when you want to access one link out of many on a web page. Or control a complex virtual device that has many degrees of freedom. Humans have evolved to have hands of extraordinary flexibility and control; just look at the amount of our brain dedicated to them. So let's use them! (The reasons why this Leap device is so good as opposed to say "finger detection" using the Google glasses video-camera is because the resolution is much higher, it tracks in 3D and there might not be a problem with occlusion.)

    Of course the Google glasses should be updated to have a stereo display (I think currently it's only in the right eye). That would allow truly interacting with items in 3D. (Of course, the above comments about people gesticulating in space would come to pass! I'm wondering if "I'm sorry your honor but I didn't mean to touch the young lady like that, I was turning the knobs on my virtual stereo receiver" would be a valid defense.)

    This is the way that Google should be fighting Apple. Not by making incremental changes to Apple's tech (or so it appears to most people* and, apparently some judges) but by revolutionizing the field. If they're right, then in three to five years Apple may only control the remains of a vast but dying industry. Sounds like Microsoft before or IBM before it.

    *look, prior to the iPhone, smartphones looked one way and then suddenly they (the successful ones that is) completely changed their basic appearance and interface (touchscreens using fingers not stylii, icons, slide to access, pinch zoom). Coincidence? Coming from companies with decades of experience in making hundreds of cellphone models? That's how most lay-persons (and at least some legal experts) might view it.

    • by oakgrove (845019)
      You can "view" it however you want but there is very little about the iPhone that is truly original. Did apple make the first phone? No. Did they make the first touchscreen in a phone firm factor? No. Did they invent multi touch? No. Did they invent the first appstore? No. Basically they didn't actually invent shit so what gives them the sole right to take other peoples inventions and monopolize their implementation? Because they do a good job? What if we extend that logic to other industries? Only BMW can
  • ...so it won't be at all unusual to not see people wearing these.

    Ever seen a woman wearing an in-ear phone?
    Ever seen a man wearing an in-ear phone and not thought it looked silly? Or that he likes his technology a wee bit too much?

    • > Ever seen a man wearing an in-ear phone and not thought
      > it looked silly?

      No one wearing an Apple product ever looks silly. When iGlasses hit the market they will be incredibly cool. Google will rush to imitate them.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      I always assumed that someone with an in-ear phone liked *themselves* a little too much, probably because they tended to be worn mainly by sales people. I thought we'd actually invented a way of tagging douche-bags.

  • http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm [marshallbrain.com]
    "At any given moment Manna had a list of things that it needed to do. There were orders coming in from the cash registers, so Manna directed employees to prepare those meals. There were also toilets to be scrubbed on a regular basis, floors to mop, tables to wipe, sidewalks to sweep, buns to defrost, inventory to rotate, windows to wash and so on. Manna kept track of the hundreds of tasks that needed to get done, and assigned each task to an employee one at a time.

    Manna told employees what to do simply by talking to them. Employees each put on a headset when they punched in. Manna had a voice synthesizer, and with its synthesized voice Manna told everyone exactly what to do through their headsets. Constantly. Manna micro-managed minimum wage employees to create perfect performance."

    • I like how that is put forward as a kind of Sci-Fi scenario, and not what's going on in cell centres around the world already.

  • by PPH (736903)

    it will actually look unusual and awkward when we view someone holding an object in their hand and looking down at it.

    You insensitive clod! I take pictures with a TLR Rolleiflex!

    That camera has actually started quite a few interesting conversations when people see me using it.

  • This technology has been around for a decade or more. Perhaps not as compact and high resolution, but something like a pair of those wrap-around sunglasses old geezers wear.

    There could be some uses for this. We did some R&D on superimposing assembly and test instructions on a technician's field of view. But one conclusion was that this was so distracting for tasks other than those performed sitting down that it could be hazardous or induce equilibrium or vertigo problems. On the shop floor, it is relat

  • ... so will there be "Glass" in the strength I need for my eyes? (I am still looking for sun glasses that are worth that name, preferably mirror sunglasses, in the strength I need. All they try to sell me are slightly darkened glasses and these are not even worth considering.)
  • " It's my expectation that in three to five years it will actually look unusual and awkward when we view someone holding an object in their hand and looking down at it. Wearable computing will become the norm."

    So Google really is coming out with an anal probe.

  • Project teams predicts their product will be the norm in the future.

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