As you know I am always on the lookout for interesting applications of technology to improve my quality of life, so my pulse quickened the other day when I saw the headline “Ten Essential Travel Gadgets.”
Unfortunately, for the most part, the article proved to be a big disappointment. Mostly it was newer, imperceptibly different iThings: a solar powered device charger and stuff like that.
But there was one thing that caught my eye. It embodied the concepts of “must have” and “essential.” (Incidentally, in the tech world, “must have” and “essential” do not mean the same thing).
It’s a jacket called the “Fleece 7.0.” (You know it’s high-tech because it has a version number). In fact, the advertising material says that the jacket, five years in the making, is so innovative that they skipped version 6.0 and went right to 7! Do they really think people believe that kind of hype?
Anyway, this jacket has 23 pockets of varying size to accommodate all your technology toys and the largest, unsurprisingly, can accommodate an iPad. They have patented the pocket design as the “PadPocket™.”
But wait, there’s more.
There is also something called the “Quick Draw Pocket,” patent pending. It allows you to “access your Smartphone through the Clear Touch fabric (i.e., plastic) so you don’t even need to take your hand out of your pocket to use your phone.” They believe “this will fundamentally change the way you interact with your mobile devices.”
Times were that a person doing something frenetic with their hand in their pocket in public would be arrested.
But now they are just connected. To everyone other than the people they are with, that is.
Who would have thought that the day would come when our clothing would be billed as “Compatible with iPad.”
But before you run out and upgrade to a Fleece Version 7, you should be aware that it is already obsolete.
Yes. Something on the what’s hot list has already been rendered irrelevant by something new and improved.
I give you Google Glass.
In case you’ve been away from Planet Earth and haven’t heard of GG, it is a device which for $1500 will enable you to look like The Collector in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and will give you a totally hands-free, heads up digital life. Who needs a jacket with pockets for all your technology when you can wear it on your face?
Basically it’s a pair of glasses with only one lens, which is your heads up display. It also has a camera and a microphone. You can take a picture or video of anything you see and send it to your friends. It’s got a GPS so you can see where you are and where you are going. And it’s got lots of web surfing capability. The promotional video shows a person in a in a Chinese market who wants to bargain. They “ask” GG how to say the price they want to offer in Chinese!
And when I say “ask,” I really mean it. Because it’s heads up and hands free, you talk to it! How cool is that?
GG is being heralded as an important step in our journey to what is called “ubiquitous computing” which means constant connectivity and, I fear, in the hands of Google, ubiquitous advertising.
But it’s the camera that makes GG even cooler and scarier. The promotional video shows a guy sky diving and filming the experience and sending his friends a real time video so they can have as much fun as him and be suitably impressed.
GG isn’t yet widely available but it is already generating two big debates. The first is about privacy issues and the second is about whether Google will partner with a fashion designer to develop cooler designs for the eyewear because some people think you look geeky when you wear it.
Guess which issue is getting the most attention.
But it’s the privacy and copyright issues that are the most interesting. Think about it. Kids will want to wear them in class because they won’t have to take notes. But teachers might not that idea because school administrators could then observe them. So could the government.
People will want to wear them to concerts so they can record the whole thing. And movies too.
And what about when your boss gives you your annual performance review? Will one or both of you be wearing Google Glasses to record the moment for posterity?
But even beyond privacy, what about common sense. If texting while driving is an issue, what will happen when people start GGing while driving?
I can’t think of a single use of GG that might not violate peoples’ privacy, result in a law suit or become evidence in a potential lawsuit (e.g., because you are updating your FB status, you forget to pull the ripcord on your parachute).
But that’s not going to stop GG from becoming a necessity of life if that fashion designer can make them look cool enough.