There’s a phenomenon in Hollywood where a movie studio will announce an upcoming movie – say, a film about an unhinged mall security guard played by, of all people, Seth Rogen – and suddenly two or three other films with similar themes are announced – say, an incompetent mall security guard played by, of course, Kevin James. In one version of the theory, Hollywood only has one idea and passes it around every year. In another version of the theory, these lesser film projects are developed to deliberately poison the well and sabotage the more prestigious film, or simply to capitalize on its marketing profile. So what’s this got to do with Google Glasses, you ask?
Google Glasses: The Year of Wearable Computing!
Something similar happens in the tech world, too, where a company unveils a new product that gets a lot of heat and attention and immediately every other company in the world begins rushing similar products to market. This past year Google Glasses have dominated a lot of tech press, partly because it’s Google and partly because the idea of using Google glasses is such a startling step into the unknown.
And, right on schedule, other companies have announced their own wearable computer products. Most of these are insurance products, put out there just in case this whole wearable computer thing takes off and becomes the Next Big Thing. Microsoft has a patent filed for digital glasses, no doubt thinking back to 1995 when they released Windows 95 with zero Internet support at the exact moment the Internet became a Thing. Motorola has a “headset computer system” in the hopper as well, and companies as diverse as Oakley and Vuzix also have wearable systems in development. If you’re already sick of the idea of affluent hipsters being able to identify you just by glancing at you from across the room, it’s going to be a long year.
Google Glasses: No Earbuds Needed
Of course, Google is way ahead of everyone else, and has all the air in the publicity room to themselves. This is the Apple Rule: Because Google is first to everyone’s attention, Google Glasses has become the symbol of the entire product class. Even if the other companies get digital eyewear off the ground, their products will still be referred to as Google Glasses, the way our parents still call every MP3 player around an iPod.
Google is so far ahead of everyone else, in fact, that they’ve already filed with the FCC regarding the specs of Google Glasses. Most of it is unsurprising given Google glasses’ purpose and form factor (standard WiFi options, the ability to record and store video) but there’s one fascinating tidbit that’s been held back so far: Google Glasses will be able to generate audio, but won’t need earbuds of any kind. Google glasses will create sound by stimulating your eardrum with vibration. This isn’t a new idea, but it’s an idea we’ve never seen in a product before, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how well Google glasses work.
Anyone else thinking about that scene in Real Genius when they prank Kent by making him hear God’s voice in his head? We simply can’t wait until someone’s Google Glasses get hacked by teenagers for the first time. Can. Not. Wait.