Google Attempts Enhancing Environment

English: Augmented GeoTravel for iPhone 3GS us...
Imagine this overlay… without the smartphone. Image via Wikipedia

More than a year ago, TECHNOGORILLA ran a series of posts about the “enhanced environment”, often hypothesizing about the benefits and consequences of a future with always-on augmented reality.  That future may be closer than even we thought, the New York Times reports that the first attempt may be available to the public by the end of 2012.

According to several Google employees familiar with the project who asked not to be named, the glasses will go on sale to the public by the end of the year. These people said they are expected “to cost around the price of current smartphones,” or $250 to $600.
The people familiar with the Google glasses said they would be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye. They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS.
A Google spokesman declined to comment on the project.
– Nick Bilton, The New York Times, February 21, 2012

Obviously, the possibilities are nearly limitless — the potential of adding to (or writing over) our visual input is overwhelming.  The capability of our technology has apparently reached a point near convergence of human and computer, exactly what we can expect in this first generation of hardware will likely remain a secret until the powers-that-be in Mountain View, California are ready to share.  Speculation and unnamed sources can provide some ideas though…

The heads up display (HUD) is only for one eye and on the side. It is not transparent nor does it have dual 3D configurations, as previously speculated.
One really cool bit: The navigation system currently used is a head tilting-to scroll and click. We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.
– Seth Weintraub, 9to5Google.com, February 6, 2012

The information that lends itself to augmented reality are the obvious choices, such as public transit, public restrooms and locations of historical importance.  After that however, comes the inevitable move to monetize the platform including advertisements and competition.  Our most scrutinized possibility is the “Kookah Cola vs. Peapsee” concept:

For example: imagine if the fictional “Kookah Cola” was in competition with the fictional “Peapsee Co.” and an particularly zealous advertising agency was able to “hijack” every occurrence of “Kookah Cola” and replace their name and logo with that of “Peapsee Co.”. Or if the same scenario occurred with political candidates, or people of one particular race, the possibilities for abuse seem limited only by our imagination and our acceptance of the technology that makes it possible.

Quite honestly, there is no conclusion to this post — we just do not know enough yet about these windows into an enhanced environment.  I look forward to our first peek into this new experience… with excitement and great trepidation.

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