Pioneers of the Future: Google Glass
April 3, 2013
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Google is bringing out a new experimental product called Google Glass.
They announced last week that I was one of the people chosen to pioneer them and experiment with them. This requires paying a pretty good fee and getting a day of training. Everyone at Gingrich Productions is excited about it.
The truth is we don’t yet know if Google Glass is the next great breakthrough or merely a detour in the way to bigger breakthroughs.
It would be easy to ignore it.
There are always people ready to reject new patterns and new technologies.
Thomas Watson, the chairman behind the rise of IBM, is supposed to have said in the early age of computers, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
Paul Krugman predicted in the early years of the Internet, “The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in ‘Metcalfe’s law’ becomes apparent — most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.” (Credit to Ben Domenech at the Transom for the quote.)
It is easy to forget now, but when the iPhone was released in 2007, there were no “Apps” and there was no “App Store”. Apple’s original vision was for everything to run in the phone’s mobile web browser.
But the amazing thing about technology is that it can often take on a life of its own, evolving and multiplying in ways its creators never imagined. The creativity people show in applying and adapting technology to their specific situations must confound even the most genius inventors.
That’s why all of us at Gingrich Productions are excited to have the opportunity to test “Google Glass.” No one knows if Glass will be the next big development in technology, changing our lives like internet-connected smartphones have. But judging from what we have seen of the technology so far, it might.
Google Glass looks like something out of Star Trek. It’s a heads up display attached to a set of wire-framed glasses, but that description doesn’t do the concept justice. The best way to explain Google Glass is to go to this video, which begins to show how you might use this tiny computer mounted in front of your eye.
Last week Google announced the winners of its Twitter contest to become one of the early testers of Glass, which the company has said it plans to make available to the general public at some point in the future.
The “If I had Glass” contest asked people to submit their ideas for using the device, and received thousands of interesting submissions. JetBlue produced a series of graphics imagining what travelling with Google Glass could be like. Many people said they’d use it to capture spontaneous pictures of their children as they grew, or to navigate roads or public transportation. Others said they would use it to learn about historic sites in their cities, or to get real time feedback while playing sports.
Like Apple’s iPhone or Google’s Android, Glass is a platform that people will use in thousands of ways we can’t imagine until they actually do it.
It’s also a communications platform — so people interested in communicating ideas should pay attention.
For one thing, the possibilities for education could be enormous (imagine using it as an instructional aid to hands-on activities).
If you have read Gavin Newsom’s book Citizenville as I recommended in my newsletter last month, you might already be imagining the possibilities for decentralizing government: “OK glass — report this pothole”.
Imagine every rescue vehicle and ambulance having Google Glass so the patient or injured person could be seen by the doctor in the emergency room right from the scene of the accident and while riding to the hospital.
Imagine students sharing what they see and experience on a family vacation with their classmates.
We will keep you updated on our experiments and eventually hold a short course on the glasses at Newt University. For our first experiment we will probably take them to a zoo. We may even do a live broadcast for Newt University from the Google Glasses, in a driverless car (for the full effect).
Google Glass is one more example of the pioneers of the future who are creating a more open, prosperous and powerful American future, despite the confusion and bickering in Washington.