Op-ed developed for the Master in Public Relations / Corporate Communications program at Georgetown University.
Last week the world witnessed the flashy introduction of yet another great smartphone, the Samsung’s Galaxy S4, which promises to be the next big thing in technology. Mobile gadgets have been driving technology sales for some time, and companies strive to create state of the art devices, with multiple functions to become the object of desire of customers. However, breakthroughs in the technology industry many times come from where no one is looking, and it might just be that the next big thing will not be a new cool gadget at all, but the absence of it.
Humans have been playing for a long time with the concept of ubiquitous computing and wearable technology, but so far it is not yet a part of our daily lives. Someone using ubiquitous computing is supposed to engage with computational devices and systems simultaneously, without necessarily being aware that they are doing so. Wearable technology is about turning devices into an extension of the user’s body or mind, and it shares with ubiquitous computing the vision of interweaving technology into the everyday life, making technology pervasive and interaction frictionless.
Google promises to launch by the end of this year a new product that could make ubiquitous technology a thing of the present. The company is launching a wearable computer with a head-mounted display linked to a normal pair of glasses. The device is named Glass and has a minimalist design with the intention of taking technology out of the way; that is, making it more invisible. As informed by the company the device will augment the user’s reality through the Internet, allowing them to access tools such as Google Maps and video chat as well as share photos and videos with friends using voice commands.
So far we can only speculate all the uses of this new device, but it could not only change the way we interact with technology, but also change the way we live our lives. Prospective customers engaged in a contest promoted by Google to have the chance to buy the Glass product before it gets to the stores, and suggested smart use cases for it. Surgeons, for example, could use Glass as a virtual assistant in the operating room, showing vitals, CT scan, and other pertinent medical information. In education Glass could allow teachers to pull out pertinent data, and students would be able to record, broadcast and supplement lectures with related information. Glass could also be used to overcome some disabilities. For the visually impaired, for example, it would be much easier to navigate anywhere with augmented reality maps, audio directions, and voice control.
Breakthroughs in technology many times come from where no one seams to be looking. Google Glass may not only be a new cool gadget. It could represent a new way of thinking and designing technology so that it becomes more and more invisible but yet present.