Goggles of the future

The future sure sneaks up fast. A decade ago, cell phones were uncommon, but now just about everyone holds more computing power in the palm of their hand then all of NASA had in 1969. So where is it all heading? flying cars? jetpacks? microchips in our heads? Well as far as that last one goes, Google is already on it.

Well, maybe not microchips in our heads (though to be honest who really knows what goes on in the Google[x] labs?), but microchips on our heads? They can do that.

It’s called Project Glass, and it’s Google’s vision for a future where we no longer need clunky devices that jostle around in our pockets. Project Glass is a concept for eyewear that can perform all the functions of a smartphone and more.

The design looks like a pair of lens-less glasses with a small extension over the right eye. It’s this small device that is the fancy part; a miniature screen that projects all the information right in front of your eye. And when I say all of it, I mean all of it; a promotional video shows Project Glass handling calls, messages, social networking, and even pictures and video – a small but powerful camera sees what you see.

On top of all that, the computing power driving all of this is supposed to be a form of artificial intelligence, so the maps can direct you around obstacles like construction or traffic in real time, as well as take voice commands, which would be the primary method of operating the device.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin sported a prototype pair recently, but Project Glass is still in the development phase, and it will be quite a while before we see the kind of product shown in the video released by Google.

While the world waits for this fancy technology to come out, many people are left wondering what impact this will have. Some raised questions involve concerns about privacy. Google already tailors ads to users based on information gathered from their searches, and with Project Glass, which automatically displays information based on what the wearer sees, there is no telling how far the “personalization” will go.

Others wonder what will happen when the human element is almost completely eliminated from our actions; the glasses keep you headed the right direction by tracking your position as you walk around, flash schedule alerts before your eyes, and even tell you how far away your friends are when you go to meet them somewhere. Is this the end of chance encounters? the end of pleasant surprises?

Of course, concerns like this come up with every new technological advance. Anyone who has seen The Matrix or Terminator secretly wonders when the day will come when the machines finally take over. We even thought the year 2000 would destroy our computers. So it is very likely that we will adjust to this new level of human-computer interaction just fine. But the question remains: What’s next?