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back to article Google's Project Glass headman answers most pressing question: 'Why?'

The creator of Google Glass sees his baby as being nothing less than the next step in human communications and humanity's "quest for knowledge." "There are two main drivers for why we wanted to make Google Glass," Babak Parviz, who founded and heads up Project Glass at Google, told his audience at the Hot Chips conference this …

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The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

Just like the Segway was meant to 'revolutionise transport' ... oh, wait ...

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JDX
Gold badge

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

Yeah, because one thing failed all things will fail. It may be a pivotal moment, it may be nothing much - these things are only easy to see in retrospect. Similar with self-driving cars.

Glass 1.0 isn't such a big deal, but the concept has maybe a 50:50 chance to truly change the world IMO.

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Terminator

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

I have a Glass (recently upgraded to XE8) charging here on my desk (color: slate). So far, I'd rate it "almost but not quite entirely useless" (don't ask why I have one).

Glass is purely a marketing gimmick, from what I can tell, trying to out-Apple Apple. The place where you pick it up in NYC is Apple-store-esque but on the top floor of a building in Chelsea with thumping club music and they want you to wear a VIP badge. They're handing them out mostly to important/beautiful/connected types and I think that's gross - it's the anti-Linux. It's purely a fashion luxury good as far as I can tell - it comes with a bag made of "Japanese microfiber" etc. and I'm sure they're keeping it exclusive just to make it seem... exclusive.

I think it's purely for people who want to look "cool" by having something the press keeps fawning over but is hard to get your hands on - it's a fashion accessory for those who go for the sci-fi look. The people I video called with it all wondered "why would I want to look at your living room wall instead of who I'm talking to?" It's faster to take a picture or do a google search than pulling out your phone, but despite what they claim, Glass is hilariously, *massively* intrusive - I mean, it *sits on your face*. It does an ok job reading emails, and a decent job taking dictation, but I'd rather use my phone.

As someone who truly loves tech for its own sake, I'm thoroughly disappointed. Glass is all style and no substance; the opposite of what cutting-edge tech should be. They're trying to compensate for this with image and marketing, but it doesn't change the reality - a friend of mine wouldn't even wear it out to lunch. I'm giving it away - you guys aren't missing anything.

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FAIL

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

Google Glass is the poster child for "Just because you can, does not mean you should."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

I think they're making them exclusive because the regular guy will not be impressed. It is only for the people who want to appear above regular crowd, more important. Say, a blogger, tech evangelist, humblebrag type of a guy.

Like this specimen who's drooling over his glasses for a while now, tweeting pics of them connected to Eclipse, etc...

https://twitter.com/tomkrcha

http://instagram.com/p/dVKtrqN_7U/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

Glass 1.0 isn't such a big deal, but the concept has maybe a 50:50 chance to truly change the world IMO.

You're 100% correct. Before Glass there was just darkness, now people who have a severe case of cranial invasion of the rectal cavity can actually share the experience. And bleed to death unless they make the edges a tad less sharp, but I digress, I wasn't planning to highlight fringe benefits.

There is a 100% chance someone's world will change when they try to enter my premises wearing this thing, and not in a positive fashion. No, no, and no again. Just because some Silicon Valley jerk says it's cool and gives us the "next part of human evolution" BS doesn't mean it IS actually so.

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FAIL

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

The people I video called with it all wondered "why would I want to look at your living room wall instead of who I'm talking to?"

That is pure genius. No really - I laughed so hard when I read that, I almost fell off my chair.

Which oompa-loompa in the chocolate factory honestly thought that would be a good idea? Maybe Google should start installing bathroom mirrors all over major cities so people can see who's calling them. It could usher in a whole new era of video selfies.

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Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

So far, I'd rate it "almost but not quite entirely useless" (don't ask why I have one).

I have to say that many would have said the same about the first mobile phones: They were big, clunky, only worked in certain areas etc. Same with cars: They didn't go very fast, were very limited, heck a horse or horse-and-cart/carriage (or even walking) was a much more convenient way to travel.

I'm not saying that Glass will become as big as the mobile phone, but remember it is a very early example of technology. I don't doubt it is pretty crap as things stand, and most people shouldn't be interested in owning/using it, but that doesn't mean it will never succeed.

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Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

I disagree, the mobile phone and car both offered more convenient (and better?) ways of doing things they were already doing.

Glass offers something that people aren't doing and it's by no means clear that people want to do it.

Ever been bored rigid looking at someone's holiday snaps or videos? Glass allows them to bore you in real time while they're filming! How great is that?!?

Don't get me wrong, parts of Glass look genuinely useful and probably will become significant parts of later products.

Personally, I can't wait for Samsung to bring out Galaxy Glass with NFC so you can pay for things by head-butting the sales terminal - or even better, you can share pictures and start a fight at the same time.

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Re: I mean, it *sits on your face*.

But does it tell you that it loves you?

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Stop

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

>>There is a 100% chance someone's world will change when they try to enter my premises wearing this thing, and not in a positive fashion

How is you politely saying "I'm sorry by you can't wear that in here" going to change someone's world?

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Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

I disagree, the mobile phone and car both offered more convenient (and better?) ways of doing things they were already doing.

Glass offers something that people aren't doing and it's by no means clear that people want to do it.

When the car was first produced, it certainly wasn't more convenient. It was loud, clunky and slow.

When the mobile phone was first invented, I partially agree that it presented a more convenient way of working for a select few. These were business people, the types who needed to be contactable and to be able to contact others at all times. Before mobiles, it was pagers, and the person would have to find a nearby phone (e.g. payphone) to contact the other person. But you certainly would not have had mass adoption, and many would have called it "nearly useless" even if they were given one for free.

As for Glass, I agree that the forward-looking camera is not a feature I would find useful. However, the concept of having a voice-controlled unit able to feed back info to me both visually and audibly, hands-free, and always available without having to dig it out of your pocket sounds useful. It could offer a more convenient way to do many things people already do, like receive emails/texts, look up information, navigate from A to B...

So, in summary I would suggest that Glass is at the same point as the earliest cars or mobiles, and it is far too early to call them a success or failure. In a few years or a few decades we could all be using the descendants of this infant technology every day.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

It has uses, but ultimately it isn't a mass market device. It will appeal to Youtubers who want to make videos showing themselves fixing something or performing.

But wearing something on your head is not comfortable and it's not like you can leave it there all the time. Battery life isn't going to be good.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

It's proof that geeks often have no idea what the real person will actually find useful.

I'm sure this will do well in South Korea, but the in the UK and US we're more reserved and constructively cynical.

Google is already the enemy of privacy and this is just the icing on the cake.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

They need a rear-view mirror on them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

Nobody ever invented a phone your wear on your head though. Until now.

Why? nobody wants that. You still need your phone too, doesn't glass need a mobile to talk to?

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Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

It has uses, but ultimately it isn't a mass market device. It will appeal to Youtubers who want to make videos showing themselves fixing something or performing.

But wearing something on your head is not comfortable and it's not like you can leave it there all the time. Battery life isn't going to be good.

Let's just roll back the clock:

It has uses, but ultimately it isn't a mass market device. It will appeal to Yuppies who want the office to be able to call them at any time of the day or night.

But carrying something that big and bulky around is not comfortable and it's not like you can keep it with you all the time. Battery life isn't going to be good.

By the way, I'm not a huge fan of Google or it's Glass. I'm just pointing out that certain nay-sayers are missing some pretty big parallels with other technology.

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Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

Yeah the segway was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the first few lines. That and an episode of Dr. Who with the Cybermen taking us over.

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Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

If you're giving it away I will happily take it off your hands (or, more accurately, your head) :-)

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Happy

Re: The computer that 'lives on your head' will change mankind

"Personally, I can't wait for Samsung to bring out Galaxy Glass with NFC so you can pay for things by head-butting the sales terminal"

Made me laugh out loud while on the phone to a customer (yes I probably shouldn't have been reading Reg articles while talking to customers). Kudos for that!

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I'm sorry, Google...

... I don't want you to live on my face.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm sorry, Google...

Everything seen, smelled or heard by a person is our property, as long as you're using free services. Oh yeah, and don't be evil.

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Honey someone's calling you

Oh sh***, wait till I put my glasses on.

> Can you see what's playing in the movies today?

Yeah, wait till I put my glasses on.

> Let me see the reviews

Here you go, put my glasses on.

> The ratings for XYZ movie are horrible, I'm not watching it

Let me see, give me my glasses back so I can put my glasses on

> Ok, let's watch it, how do we get there?

I'll print the map, it's not allowed to drive with my glasses on

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JDX
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Re: Honey someone's calling you

How short sighted (ha!) to assign today's limitations as fundamental road-blocks. You'd hope people on a tech forum would be a little more open-minded.

Pessimism generally is a self fulfilling prophecy, people need to be excited about new tech. If it doesn't work, move on, but don't be apathetic and kill it before it can have a chance.

"Yeah, but why would you WANT to fly to America in 3 hours?"

"You want to send someone to the moon just so they can come back?"

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Re: Honey someone's calling you

No, those questions you quoted are wrong. I didn't write those things. It can be summarised:

"Would you want to wear glasses although you have a perfectly good eyesight, just to be able to make a phone call or browse internet?"

Has nothing to do with travel or space exploration, which I admire. Give me ONE great use case for a healthy human to wear electronic glasses around. Special cases such as sunglasses, 3D virtual reality, HUD's, or military uses don't count.

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Re: Honey someone's calling you

I'd like a HUD for hands-free reading while still people-watching in the pub. Neal Stephenson did a good riff on the subject in Rainbow's End with contact-lens HUD and the computers built into clothes. His take was that it was all micro-gesture-based; but I can't see that taking off if there's a steep learning curve. I quite liked the idea of <SMING> which was an invisible text message that could be exchanged between two people without anyone else at the table noticing. There were also overlays for everything...entire cities as Discworld or Tolkien or whatever people had put together. Also being able to go for a walk in the country and call up an overlay of plant names. Museums would become a lot more interesting. You could use the extended visual range of the CCD to enhance your vision. "Eclipse-watching mode". Part number overlays and ordering info for those that like to tinker. Zoom. Composite views from the people around you. There's a million things you can do with a good HUD and some decent computing firepower behind it.

The biggest downside for me is Google's involvement. I don't want everything I see (and hear - presumably there's sound?) to be poisoned with advertising and I'm fucked if I'm going to broadcast my life back to the Chocolate Factory.

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Trollface

Re: Honey someone's calling you

"people need to be excited about new tech."

No I don't.

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Re: Honey someone's calling you

" Give me ONE great use case for a healthy human to wear electronic glasses around"

Information on the move (texts, e-mails, or web browsing). Replace the smart part of the smart phone, or link them up so you're not looking down at your mobile device and so oblivious to everything else around you. At least with electronic Glasses you can catch movement and react to someone about to bump into you, or you into that lamppost.

Satnav: Not for the car - use a HUD for that, but when walking around. Makes it easier to find the route rather than looking at a smart phone and trying to decipher the image into your surroundings (think Saints Row 3rd or 4th direction arrows if you know those games).

Work: Stock market for example, but how about Doctors? They see an overlay on a patient indicating where the patient is reporting pain or other problems, and a list of possible prognosis. Medics would benefit from that, too. Or how about surgeons so they can record where the sutures are, or the swaps, so they can be counted out more accurately. Overlaying circuit diagrams or engine plans, or instructions while assembling or fault finding. And this list can go on quite a bit longer if you stop to think about it.

Social: Art galleries, museums and other displays. This would allow for far more information being made available than a small plaque by the display.

My favorite: Running from Zombies. Okay, this is an exercise app with a Zombie theme, but at the moment all I get is an audio warning that a zombie is close and that I need to run. Would much rather get the warning and be able to see the Zombie :p Would also make games a lot more fun if I could see images superimposed around me.

These are things that electronic glasses could provide. However, what most people are focused on is the advertising. After all, that's where the money is.

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Re: Honey someone's calling you

If you put on Google Glass, you are going to look like a complete twat. That's the fundamental road-block. Like speech-controlled PCs or the kind of ridiculous Minority Report UI's that Microsoft are trying to encourage with Kinect, these are all geek-fantasies that are not actually of practical benefit to anyone and will ultimately always be rejected for being hopelessly intrusive by "normal" folk.

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Re: Honey someone's calling you

You can also wipe your arse with it, though there are better devices for that. Apart from art and maybe gaming AR, this thing is useless. Flying cars will be viable on the market before this is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Honey someone's calling you

Which all sound good until you realise you have to walk along the road shouting "Open Chrome" "Go to bankokchickboys.com", "Send an email to Gary Glitter".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Honey someone's calling you

Who remembers Knightmare and how annoying that was to watch?

"Left two paces", "Use spell", "pick up knife".

Using Google glass will be like that, you'll be glad to get back to a touchscreen or mouse.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Honey someone's calling you

How short sighted (ha!) to assign today's limitations as fundamental road-blocks. You'd hope people on a tech forum would be a little more open-minded.

Another take could be that people on a tech forum tend to be a tad more pragmatic and are used to filter out raw bullshit when it is spouted at them. And Glass is IMHO about 75% marketing, 5% tech and 25% BS, which doesn't add up because BS generally doesn't when confronted with reality.

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Stop

Re: Honey someone's calling you

"Would you want to wear glasses although you have a perfectly good eyesight, just to be able to make a phone call or browse internet?"

Glasses - Devices to aid eyesight

Glass - Technology that allows you to interact hands free, in a way you would with any other mobile computing device, that happens to live on your head NEAR your glasses.

Google Glass ISN'T a pair of glasses, so asking why someone would want to wear Glass when they don't need glasses is asinine and woefully misunderstanding the technology.

"Give me ONE great use case for a healthy human to wear electronic glasses around"

1. Navigation hands free.

2. Making phone calls hands free

3. Taking instant pictures hands free if something interesting happens during your normal working day and you don't have to bugger about getting your mobile out, unlocking it, invoking the camera and taking a pic, by which time whatever it is has gone.

4. Being able to recieve and read texts hands free.

5. There are lots and lots more little things that all combine to make it useful to have them actually closer than "at your fingertips" (quite literally having them at your command). This idea that because they are on your face it suddenly means that, unlike any other mobile technology curently available, they have to be doing something spectacularly useful 100% of the time is again a ridiculous expectation of a device when no other device in the market does that. All this is a pouting, deliberate attempt to not want to find a product useful/enjoyably/desirable. And it's ridiculous.

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Re: Honey someone's calling you

@PatientOne: I can't see how any of those are "great use cases". Personally, I don't find any of them even mildly tempting use cases; but even if I were wildly enthusiastic about them, I'd be hard-pressed to argue they were great. At best, they're toy uses for the privileged, with marginal incremental value over what we already have - and most of that for people who already indulge in poor practices like texting while walking.

Of course, claiming these are "great use cases" is less extravagantly absurd than Parviz's thesis that this sort of technology will "change the world". Some rather more general and established technologies - like, say, personal computers - have yet to "change the world" for the larger part of the human population. Some of the fetishes of the modern IT era, notably mobile phones, may get there yet, thanks to a low barrier to entry and immediate utility for people in subsistence conditions; but it's a mighty high bar to reach.

It's arguable how much modern IT has "changed the world" even for the wealthy. It's certainly had less of an effect on the lifestyle of the typical middle- or upper-class inhabitant of an industrialized country than, say, the Industrial Revolution, or electrification, or modern transportation did.

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Unhappy

Marketing Drivel

This guy sounds like one of the more lowbrow niches in advertising - a bad infomercial.

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WTF?

'a technology that has been engineered from the get-go for visual communication from person to person'

Ummmm text is visual.

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WTF?

email – essentialy a private, mobile telegraph

Private? Think PRISM and whatever else Google themselves do with Gmail, etc, etc

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JDX
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Re: email – essentialy a private, mobile telegraph

Thanks for pointing it out - all this toss about privacy being eroded is daft. In the past, every telegram you wrote HAD to read by someone else. Every phone call you made was listened in on.

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Re: email – essentialy a private, mobile telegraph

" In the past, every telegram you wrote HAD to read by someone else. Every phone call you made was listened in on. "

But, nobody stored copies of those that lasted forever and could be accessed at whim by anyone anywhere almost instantly at anytime for 'security', financial, or "Hey I'm bored, let's see what we can find" purposes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: email – essentialy a private, mobile telegraph

Thanks for pointing it out - all this toss about privacy being eroded is daft

Sigh. Here we go again. Please state full name, address, your monthly salary and who you have been calling last mont in your next post. Also include your mortgage details, credit card data and other information. Don't give me the "it's none of your business" answer because that is EXACTLY the argument why you have a right (Human Right) even to privacy. If you cannot get that through your thick skull and keep making statements like the above, you're quite welcome to the ID theft coming your way and other pretending they're you.

With ANY uncontrolled access to private information, there is an accompanying risk of uncontrolled disclosure. As we teach the kids about Internet posting: "assume the person you really don't like reads it too".

BTW, it's not just about information leakage: another risk is falsification of information.

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Anonymous Coward

Lord help us.

that's all.

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Anonymous Coward

Sigh...

>> "A few thousand years ago," he said, "basically you were out of luck" if you didn't know someone who could answer your question.

What is surprising to me is that so many really stupid people seem to be working at Google. I'm reminded of what Roy told Moss about being good at science, but completely rubbish at everything else.

It would seem these people have no idea what the societal effects of these kinds of devices will be, or they just don't care.

A few thousand years ago, if someone couldn't answer your question, you would have to go look for it. In fact. this was the state of the world just a few decades ago. They were called libraries.

It's this simplified view of the world that scares me, because I know a lot of people who work for Google or similar companies, and they all talk like that.

Thank god for the ecological apocalypse happening in a few years, at least we won't have to worry about shite like this...

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Re: Sigh...

one forgotten word: Mundaneum

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/health/17iht-17mund.13760031.html?_r=0

From 1865 to WWII, anyone anywhere with access to a telegraph could get any question about anything answered with a small fee per question, or use a yearly subscription.

That's right, a freakin' steampunk Google, started almost a hundred years before the internet was invented! And so mundane*, nobody thought it was particularly noteworthy, because, well, it's civilized times, of course we have access to the world's knowledge.

Google just revived an old idea, and monetized the hell out of it.

*Sorry...

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JDX
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An interesting view on this from Sci-Fi

The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke (sort of) covers the idea of ubiquitous, total communication in a fairly plausible way. One direction such things could take - which would appear utopian to some here and unacceptable to others.

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Re: An interesting view on this from Sci-Fi

"Accelerando" by Charles Stross.

I'm sure your Google Glasses will be able to tell you where to pick up a copy.

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Re: An interesting view on this from Sci-Fi

Halting State, also by Charles Stross.

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Devil

Re: An interesting view on this from Sci-Fi

The "Gargoyles" in "Snow Crash", who pimped content for sale, and tended to get dead when they got too nosy!

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Glass or something like it is here to stay.

Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view, once science and technology makes something possible it generally does not go away.

Whether or not it is going to be Google's Glass or an electronic tattoo printed on your head, some kind of 'Augmented Reality' (their words not mine) will be operating on a fair portion of humanity.

Like it or not the little privacy that is currently left to those living in the modern world is going to diminish and once our caring unsharing governments and the subscribers buying the demographics figure out how to manage the vast amounts of information. All the bits whizzing about with little snippets of our lives as Glassholes and their ilk go about their daily privacy invasion and recording of our every action will be used against us or to provide us with individually targeted advertising as we walk or drive down the street, sit on the bus or train etc.

Of course we will have the advantage of being able to ask our AR device 'Why am I constantly targeted with adverts for Head Lice Shampoos?' and the answer will be 'Because you have been observed by 17,324 AR devices while scratching your head.

I can't wait to get one!

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WTF?

"It sees the world and can eventually smell the world."

Considering how many people chatter on their phones while on the toilet ... EEEEEWWW!!!

When phones transmit smells, I am definitely going to turn that feature off.

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