Google released another video last week showing all the cool things you'll be able to do with a pair of Google Glass glasses and their built-in transparent screens, onboard microphones and a camera that you can use to communicate with your smart phone, take photos and videos, send and receive texts and emails, provide GPS map readouts, and more. The movie itself has everything in it from making ice sculptures to skydiving (you know, the stuff you do every day), but somehow failed to impress all that much.
Maybe that's because the transparent display in the top right corner of your field of view is usually stuck showing you the time and date, and other times seems a lot more distracting than cool. It's like having picture-in-picture turned on while watching your favourite show on TV — and there's a reason that's not such a hot feature anymore.
For people who are concerned by how much technology is intruding on real life and alienating people from the real world, Google Glass may be the ultimate intruder, a thin layer of not quite transparent technology that stands between you, the people in your life and this comfortingly analog planet of ours.
That's not to say there aren't real-world applications for this technology. Every surgeon could use a pair and police could probably use these to replace notepads. If I were a student again, I'd consider wearing these glasses to class to snap pictures of chalkboards or record important lectures.
But I would never, ever wear these things while driving a car, as shown in the video, and I really hope that legislators will take note and ban the use of these glasses while driving before somebody gets killed. They're that distracting.
There's no doubt that Google has created something amazing, but at the same time I feel that they've failed to provide a compelling reason why the average person would actually use this thing, and pay through the teeth for the privilege. You could argue that a smart phone is a necessity these days, but I really don't think people will ever feel the same about Google Glass.
I hate to compare them to that other groundbreaking technology that is the Segway Scooter, but, hey, I just did. Sure, Segways are great for mall cops and mailmen, but most people wouldn't be caught dead on one in public.
Plus, if somebody walked up to you on the street wearing Google Glass, how would you really feel about it? Would you wonder if they were secretly recording you or taking pictures, or maybe checking out hockey scores while nodding their heads and pretending to listen to your story? How distracting would it be to see their eyes continually darting over to check the screen, their attention eternally divided?
And while Google Glass is somewhat convenient when it comes to taking pictures or sending messages, how convenient are glasses in general? Glasses scratch, glasses crumple, glasses fog, glasses get dirty, glasses weigh on your nose and glasses slip off your head while you're doing stuff, which is why so many people who actually need glasses opt to wear contact lenses instead — they'd rather stick a finger into their own eyes twice a day than wear frames.
The ability to take first person video of yourself doing things is pretty great, but head and chest-mounted cameras like the GoPro already do that well and there's no way that Google Glass is going to be able to offer the same quality images or wide angle view.
The rumour is that Google Glass will be released in 2014, and they've already started offering developer versions with software for about $1,500. There's a limit to how much anybody would pay for these things so it's safe to assume that retail will be between $200 and $500 — and you're probably going to need to carry an Android smart phone around as well to get the full benefits of the technology .
PS4 launch refocuses on games
Sony is not a healthy company and has made a lot of critical mistakes recently. The Playstation Vita is a bit of a disaster, to name one, and they've lost dominance in televisions and audio while missing the smart phone revolution almost completely. They bet heavily on the high definition Blu-ray format, just in time to see the entire video rental industry go belly up.
They also squandered a huge lead in the gaming world with the launch of the PS3, focusing far more on the technology and a new type of multicore processor (that game studios had no idea how to develop for) than they did on games.
At the unveiling of the PS4 last week, however, they've refocused back on core technologies that developers like and on games, announcing dozens of studio exclusives that are going to make gamers sit up and take notice — including a port to best-selling PC game Diabolo III, and sequels to all of their core games.
The most interesting new feature is the controller, which will have a small touch-screen built into it — great for controlling the PS4 when using it for music and movies, but probably really expensive when it comes to buying replacements.
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