April 12, 2012, 3:42 PM

Google brings Star Trek to the real world

Is Google Glasses the next step in mobile evolution?

Lead Photo

If you’re a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, you’ve seen Google Glasses. The villainous cyborgs knows as the Borg have tiny transparent screens in front of their eyes that constantly feed them information on their systems and the world around them. In fact, Enterprise chief engineer Geordi LaForge had some wild, computerized glasses, as well. As has been the case in the past, Star Trek predicted new technology decades ahead of time.

Google Glasses, dubbed Project Glass at Google HQ, look like silver, wraparound eyeglasses but with only one small lens. On that lens a person can see text messages and directions and video calls, you name it. It’s a form of augmented reality technology beyond anything yet seen.

Google employees are testing the glasses now out in the real world. So if you live in Mountain View, Calif., keep your eyes peeled for these staffers. They’ll be the ones stumbling into light poles. OK, maybe they won’t be walking into things, but one has to wonder just how disruptive this technology can be. I pray these Google employees don’t wear them while driving.

What do these glasses mean for the world of mobile technology? Probably that things are just going to continue to evolve at the frenzied pace they have been for years. We have little idea today what mobile technology will look like in five years. Though I’d wager these glasses will be part of that world. Put on these glasses and one of those earpiece phones and before you know it you’ll become a Borg.

Some experts agree that this is another step in mobile’s evolution, and that augmented reality will have a big part to play in the future.

“What this means for retailers is that location-based and augmented reality programs will become more important,” says Tom Nawara, vice president of digital strategy and design at web and mobile marketing firm Acquity Group LLC. “As we’ve begun to see with mobile devices in general, the geofencing of store, product and offer information will become more necessary, and the need to personalize that information based on the user and associated conditions—time of day, weather, etc.—will become not only more important, but more possible. Retailers also need to be cognizant of the fact that devices such as Google Glasses will change the way we interact with television and advertising.”

I don’t know if I’d like Google Glasses. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my smartphone. (Are smartphones already old-fashioned?) The glasses seem very intrusive, and I can get everything I need, and I’d bet more, on my smartphone. Once the glasses hit stores, it will be interesting to see if they take off. I’d say the 13-18-year-olds will love them. But if they gain any traction, they’ll be yet another mobile device that retailers have to contend with.

I’d also suggest that for your well being if you see someone with Google Glasses heading toward you, get out of the way.

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