Google is miles ahead when it comes to contextual computing, and a refresh of Google Glass would be amazing.
Apple Glass isn’t a thing you can buy just yet, but for a lot of people, it already looks like a winner. If all the rumors are true, it will sell out very quickly when released. But Apple didn’t just come up with the idea of smart glasses itself. Instead, the company looked at the past history of wearables and added the things it can do best to a pair of smart specs. Google needs to do the same thing.
The things that were good about Google Glass have gotten much better since 2012.
Google Glass version one was clearly labeled as an experiment, and on the consumer side, it turned out to be a failed one. Using Glass was a bit cumbersome, and because it housed a camera (a really bad camera), people had some privacy concerns whenever around someone who was wearing them. But it did some things really, really well.
The prism was a bit of an odd duck, but it worked well enough to show you rich notifications as if they were floating in front of your eyes. Basically, you had the same notifications as you would have directly on your phone and not just a scrolling bit of text with an icon as we see from some wearables. And you could tell Google Assistant to act on them, even though it wasn’t even called Google Assistant back then.
Forget the touchpad; the best way to use Glass was with your voice.
You also had a heads up display for things like Google Maps navigation, and being able to actually see your next turn was a lot better than hearing a voice say it was coming up in 100 feet. You had a touch panel and a button, but the right way to use Google Glass was with your voice, and Glass was able to use all the personal information that you’ve been feeding Google for years to show you the right information at just the right time.
We didn’t know it back then, but Google Glass was like putting Google Assistant in your eyes. And seeing what Google Assistant has become means that a refresh would make for a great product.
Google would have to be smart and remove the camera so people wouldn’t freak out, and the design needs a few tweaks, but the important parts — your personal data and Google Assistant — are already built.
A modern Google Glass could replace your smartwatch and your smart display.
Think of the things you use a smart display or a smartwatch for; Google Glass could easily do the same, and the years of work Google’s done with ARCore means it all could come to life in front of your eyes. Important things like calendar reminders are just the beginning, and integration with Google Tasks or Google Keep could tell you not to forget milk when you’re at the grocery store both visually and audibly.
Then there’s the fun stuff. How much cooler would Pokémon Go be if you were seeing it in front of you instead of looking down at your phone? 100% cooler, at least. Add in a Soli chip so your hands can be tracked, and AR turns into VR in the real world — stack Tetris blocks in the park or slash things with a virtual sword to the rhythm of your favorite songs.
A refresh of Glass would be part Tango phone, part smart display, and part smartwatch. And all awesome.
Google already knows how to do all this stuff, and while products like Tango phones and Daydream Headsets have been axed, Google Glass version three (there’s already a version two for the enterprise customers) could be the right way to deliver it.
I’m almost certain that the whole idea is just a pipe dream and Google is done trying to make smart glasses, but there’s nothing wrong with dreaming as long as you dream big.
Apple Glass is more Apple Watch than Google Glass, and that’s why it’ll succeed