In the middle of the last decade I was interviewing video search engine Blinkx’s CEO Suranga Chandratillake about the state of video search techniques, when he made what seemed then a startling prediction. Miniaturized personal video cameras in our glasses would eventually be capable of recording every second of a person’s day, leaving a pile of content in need of video search algorithms like his to organize and filter. That bold prediction came to mind when watching the newly released “trailer” for Google Glass.
With more than 3 million YouTube views already, it is safe to say that Google has captured our imaginations with this one. While previous thinking and samples of Glass had emphasized the augmented reality aspects of the design, this video suggests a different emphasis. We get a glimpse, or listen, to the user interface, which responds to simple voice commands that tell the system to record, snap a shot, and share a view or any data with one’s social network.
The effort here seems to be positioning Glass as a communications and sharing platform, but also as a less intrusive and cluttered vision. While you can call in the usual search information, it is interesting that the interface is not presented to us as a full-bore Iron Man HUD. Kudos to Google in embracing simplicity here. This is a case where the interface is the meaning -- it renders the product as a life tool and annotation device rather than a dazzling gadget.
But more to the point, Glass suggests the next stage in what has arguably been the path of social networking all along -- your life becomes media. As we have been posting stray thoughts, images and ideas across first personal Web sites, blogs and later social networks, this has been the case for a number of years. Glass’s first-person, live and hyper-intimate point of view is a stark reminder of where this all has been going -- life is media. Glass removes one more filter between raw experience and what can be shared and self-published.
And just in case the cool pictures distracted anyone from the business implications lurking beneath all of this, the new trailer also makes clear that Google intends this to be a person-to-person communicator. Yeah, they may be dancing around it by featuring video sharing and video chat, Google+ hangouts and all. But let’s face it. This is going to be a phone.