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Google Glass: what does the future hold?

By CJ Castillo / July 5, 2013

As the first reviews of Google Glass roll in, it’s left people wondering, who will really use this product? Glass, the augmented reality eyewear that seems to be an early-adopter’s wildest fantasy, has some tech commentators thinking back to Bluetooth headsets and the Segway — two “next big things” that didn’t quite pan out as expected. Will Google Glass be the next big thing in tech, or one big cautionary tale?

Apps on the horizon

Although Glass isn’t widely available to consumers, software developers are already tinkering with the Mirror API until the full Glass SDK is released. One of these apps is Winky, which allows users to take photos using Glass with just the wink of an eye. With wearable cameras like Memoto and Autographer gaining the attention of lifebloggers, an app like Winky may increase Glass’ appeal for people who love to document their day-to-day life.

One of Glass’ first games is an astronomy quiz called Starfinder. Developer dSky9 presented a demo of the game, which uses Google Sky to challenge players to identify constellations within a time limit. Starfinder’s official release date hasn’t been announced, but dSky9 has already started working on a couple new apps — an activity tracker called UltraRun and a high-tech compass called Pathfinder.

Future possibilities

The app possibilities for Glass are as endless as they are for smartphones and tablets, but how will developers truly capitalize on the utility of this hands-free device and make it more than an expensive toy?

Co-founder and CTO of seed-funded health start-up Hasty, Chris Hollindale, shared some interesting ideas about Glass’ future in physical fitness with VentureBeat. Hollindale claims, “Google Glass has the potential to fundamentally change the way we track and gamify health.” He believes Glass will be able to compete with current fitness tracking devices like Nike+ and the Jawbone Up, because users can constantly monitor their progress without ever picking up their phone.

Glass could also become a major player in sports broadcasting. Recently, a recreational hockey player wore Glass during one of his games and posted the action on YouTube. The video is clear and dramatic, putting the viewer in the thick of the action. With nearly 400,000 views to date, this amateur video received the same viewership as a regular season NHL game. Just imagine what would happen to TV ratings if our favorite professional athletes start wearing Glass during games.

Another highly physical profession that could benefit from Glass is the law enforcement sector. Google Glass could help these brave men and women stay safe in the line of duty. Glass would allow these heroic individuals to identify targets, get directions, gather evidence and call for back up, all while keeping their hands free in case they need to reach for their weapon or apprehend a suspect.

While there’s tons of potential, perhaps it’s too early to tell what the future holds for Google Glass. It could be a revolutionary innovation that changes the way we see the world, or just one more gadget that makes us all look like extras on Star Trek.