Google Glasses

Source: MIT Tech Review, July/Aug 2012 issue

“One of the key points here,” Starner says, “is that we’re trying to make mobile systems that help the user pay more attention to the real world as opposed to retreating from it.”

wearable computers could end up being a fashion statement. They actually fit into a larger history of functional wearable objects—think of glasses, monocles, wristwatches, and whistles. “There’s a lot of things we wear today that are just decorative, just jewelry,” says Travis ­Bogard, vice president of product management and strategy at Jawbone, which makes a line of fashion-conscious Bluetooth headsets. “When we talk about this new stuff, we think about it as ‘functional jewelry.'” The trick for makers of wearable machines, Bogard explains, is to add utility to jewelry without negatively affecting aesthetics.

One criticism of Google’s demo video of Project Glass is that it paints a picture of a guy lost in his own digital cocoon. But Starner argues that a heads-up display will actually tether you more firmly to real-life social interactions. He says the video’s augmented-­reality visualizations—images that are tied to real-world sights, like direction bubbles that pop up on the sidewalk, showing you how to get to your friend’s house—are all meant to be relevant to what you’re doing at any given point and thus won’t seem like distracting interruptions.

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