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Glass Heralds Life 2.0?

C4's Black Mirror: 'The Entire History of You' gave a glimpse
of what life could be like with glass.
It look like Google is on to something with its Glass concept, taking the GoPro camera concept - an all action device used by sportsmen and adrenaline junkies to capture the thrills and spills of their chosen activity - and brought it into the mainstream. It may not seem like it at the moment, with the Glass concept device looking quite geeky and many people asking, probably correctly, who on earth is going to walk around with one of those strapped to their head? The answer, of course, will be everybody. And here's why.

In its current iteration Google Glass is a useful adjunct to a smartphone, reducing the level of intrusion that devices have into our real world interactions. Microsoft's launch advertising for the Windows Phone 7 - the phone to save us from our phones - got a handle on this early on, even if they were selling exactly the product they were offering to release us from. How many times have you seen families, parents, even children disconnected from the environment around them, under the control of the piece of glass, plastic and metal in their hands?

For all the good that the smartphone has delivered, its impact on our social interaction - and more interestingly for the next generation's - has been questionable. All to often we ignore those close at hand to interact with those at a distance. Glass should change that. That's only a small part of what Glass - and competing products like it - will do for us though.

A typical Glass application will be to provide a constant stream of pertinent information to support our daily lives. How often have you met an acquaintance in the street and remembered nothing about them. Glass will recognise them (facial recognition, inter-device communication), figure out their context in your life (work colleague, customer, school friend) and display the things you need to know about them (name, latest social update, last order they placed with you, partner info, etc.) suddenly those awkward social interactions are gone from your life. How about reminding you that you need milk when you're passing the supermarket. Or that you need an anniversary card and there's a card shop across the road?

The price for this level of insight will be live streaming of adverts, with extreme targeting that will surpass anything you've yet seen. Thinking of a new car? Augmented reality will remind you that you're near a dealer for that car and tell you about current offers. How about an advert for a competitor's model when you're near those dealers too? Billboards and advertising hoardings will deliver specific messages to your eyes because Glass will allow them to morph to match products that suit your interests. Shops will be able to create virtual billboards and show them only to target customers. Tesco's clubcards on extreme steroids if you like.

If all this sounds very intrusive, there's likely to be a payoff - enormous storage. What price video of your child's first laugh or smile? Those other intimate, humorous or memorable moments that flash through our lives and are gone forever? Google will look to deliver a permanent first person record of your life through Glass - all streamed in near real time to the cloud. Mobile networks are reaching the point where the uplink speed can be fast enough to allow this, whilst local storage on Glass to act as a cache would mitigate insufficient bandwidth when required.

Sounds ridiculous? Everything I've described is achievable today with our smartphones. Augmented reality apps, facial recognition, converged information streams, friend location sharing, automatic upload of images and video, even the push capabilities of Google Now... Put together in an unobtrusive device that we're all used to wearing already.

So say goodbye to those rows about who said what and when; forgotten memos, missed moments in time, shopping lists, newspapers, awkward meetings with strangers. Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror Channel 4 mini-series offered a glimpse of what this could be like a couple of years ago. I wonder if he realised how soon that vision would become reality when he wrote it?

Its better than life, its Life 2.0 and Google is marching towards us. Are you ready?


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