July 28, 2012, 7:55 AM — Call me paranoid, but I think Google Glass is scary.
Sergey Brin's live demonstration of Google Glass at the Google I/O Conference last month clearly showed that wearable, always-on, Web-connected computing technology is here now, and that it works. It's coming from one of the wealthiest companies in the world, a company that might become a lot wealthier if Google Glass accomplishes in the physical realm what the Web browser has done for Google in the digital realm.
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Let me explain. Google has amassed immense power by cataloging and analyzing the Internet, as well as selling ads there. They are masters of that universe. Like many other tech companies, however, Google isn't satisfied with such a confined sphere of influence. Google has been searching for ways to treat things in the real world the way it treats things in the digital domain, by numbering, locating, mapping, cataloging, and analyzing them. Google became the giant it is today by making stuff on the Web searchable. Does the company see its second golden age in making things in the real world searchable?
Some companies have tried to affix QR codes to objects, placing a digital marker on real-world things and thereby giving those objects representation in cyberspace. QR codes have seen limited success, but that technology is just a cheap parlor trick next to the powerful Web-enabling technology that is Google Glass.
Always-On Augmented Reality
Google Glass resembles a sleek pair of reading glasses, except the narrow lens sits slightly above one eye. Basically a tiny see-through computer monitor, the lens can overlay data and images atop the user's field of vision, delivering incoming messages, video, maps, or anything else that can transmit wirelessly from a Web server. Google Glass also incorporates a miniaturized smartphone equipped with cameras, a microphone, a Web browser, and speech-recognition capabilities.