Privacy concerns will immediately fly to the top. Keep in mind that the fundamental privacy is only as good as the underlying databases. These glasses only enable the quickest identification of a person so as to match the person with publicly available data. Other than the tool -- the glasses -- the only new "glue" will be the matching of the faces with the data. Surely trying to fight this trend will be like trying to prevent water from running downhill.
Imagine if civilians and authorities alike were using these kinds of glasses with this information before 9/11. Could the horror have been averted?
So when will Google make these augmented-reality glasses available? I have no idea, but it seems possible that Google will provide some form of further public demonstration in conjunction with its annual i/o developer conference June 27-29.
That said, I hope Google doesn't actually make the product available until they have passed the "Steve Jobs perfection test" (i.e., that they don't release the product until it works flawlessly).Once these glasses have become available and assuming they don't suffer from the Google 1.0 syndrome, they should become a huge success. Who wouldn't want to know almost anything about people around them, simply by looking at them? Scary, nosy, disarming ... it has the potential to change everything in our social relations more than any other product in history. Price? Again, I have no idea, but it seems reasonable that at least in the earliest days this kind of product could easily command $500-$1,000. Competition? A lot of people could make the glasses. Cellular phone makers such as Apple (AAPL), Nokia (NOK), Samsung, perhaps Microsoft (MSFT). Most likely, some crude variant has been in production by military contractors for years. Compatibility? Google likely will make it available to connect with Android smartphones and tablets first. Why be in a hurry to become compatible with Apple, Microsoft and Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry? This has the greatest probability of driving sales of Android. Perhaps Google would say that it would be compatible with Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry "in the future." In the meantime, everyone would run out and buy Android. Bye-bye, smartphone and tablet competition. Google's advantage comes in the form of owning Picasa and its dominant position in cataloging and cross-referencing seemingly all information in society. That's why Google is the company most likely to succeed with marketing augmented-reality eyeglasses right now. Unless they hurry a product to market before it's perfected, that is. At the time of writing, Wahlman held shares of Apple and Google.
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