By Mike Tomlinson
Google’s recent unveiling of Google Glasses (oh, how futuristically absurd they look) marks a distinct shift toward the mainstream consumer appeal of augmented reality. The product itself is amazing, but think about this: we now have a major tech player investing large amounts of money to manufacture and market a wearable augmented reality device—no more Sharper Image or Sky Mall gadgets that never live up to their hype. Sebastian Thrun, a Google Fellow and computer scientist, released a picture last week showing some of the capabilities the Project Glass eyewear will feature. Yet however many times Google wants to show us new ways to take snazzy photos, I’m surprised they don’t dive deeper into how this eyewear can revolutionize entire industries. Here’s where I see the biggest areas for disruption:
Police/Fire/EMS and Military applications: The raid against Osama bin Laden’s compound last year was broadcast live to the White House situation room where key decision-makers were paying close attention. Now imagine an entire military equipped with this technology. Everything a soldier sees or hears can be recorded and reviewed later for intelligence. Throw in some thermal overlay to reveal hidden dangers. Transpose a map of the battlefield onto the glasses to assist navigation and prevent troops from getting lost or confused during intense situations. Use avatars, just like in video games, to hover above fellow troops indicating their health, rank, mission, or destination. Enhancing these features for police, fire, and EMS emergency situations will undoubtedly follow.
Medical applications: Combine Google Glasses with IBM’s Watson and what do you get? A doctor who not only has the compendium of human knowledge available to answer any of his or her questions, but also a visual element enabling Watson (in the future) to make judgments on what it is seeing, not just what it is being asked with words. If a patient is on the verge of dying, AR specs will keep the doctor focused. Watson will give the recommended action and the doctor will perform it. If anything goes wrong during surgery, the recorded video from the specs will be reviewed by the hospital and insurance companies to determine whether there was malpractice or the patient couldn’t be saved.
Automotive applications: Take the Google Glasses concept and build them into a car. For commercial vehicles, the ability to record an automobile’s journey and document poor driving will result in fewer accidents, lower insurance costs, and better customer service. Perhaps once the technology improves, Google will integrate their glasses with their autonomous vehicles, offering self-driving and self-aware cars whose windshield will be running a variation of the Glasses software.
What industries do you think will be most disrupted by Google Glasses? Comment on the blog or on Twitter @EngagePR!