Apr 10 2012

Google’s Project Glass Showcases the Allure of Augmented Reality

The innovators at Google are dreaming big by imagining a world where technology syncs with the human senses.

Dreaming about future technologies is fun. It’s the stuff that Hanna-Barbera cartoons and Star Trek movies are made of. In science fiction, technology can be used in ways that reality hasn’t quite yet caught up to. After all, The Jetsons were driving a flying car all the way back in the 1960s, but in 2012, we’re just starting to go electric.

At the same time, dreaming of unconventional ways to use technology is also what has made Apple a leader in the industry. The iPhone and the iPad both bested expectations by making what once seemed impossible, possible. Touch interfaces were around long before both devices, but they weren’t nearly as user-friendly. But as a result of the successes of the iPhone and the iPad, now we can’t imagine a mobile device that doesn’t respond to touch.

Google, best known for revolutionizing online search, continues to be a big technology innovator. They’ve been hard at work building and perfecting the self-driven car since 2008. Recently, they reached a significant milestone by letting Steve Mahan, a blind man, “drive” the vehicle.

But that’s not the only trick Google has up its sleeve. Last week, the company unveiled what it calls Project Glass. The forward-looking project is essentially Google’s stab at augmented reality: The user wears a special device on his head and experiences the benefits of connected and mobile computing through gestures, voice control and other interactions.

Google has a concept video featuring a prototype that shows off what the technology could be capable of in the future:

It might be easy to dismiss this as merely a gimmick, but not so fast. Motorola Solutions (not to be confused with Motorola Mobility, which is actually under acquisition by Google) has been hard at work on wearable computers with its Golden-I product.

Tech you can wear is clearly the next frontier in computing. And if Google’s bet on wearable computers proves correct, we could be one step closer to realizing George Jetson’s version of the future.