Back in 2000 I had the honor of writing a vision paper for ASTD and the National Governor's Association called "Into the Future". I included some of my thoughts and excitement at the time about the notion of augmenting our eyes by having additional layers of information overlaid on top of what we are "really" seeing. I described things like being able to walk around the ruins of an ancient city and be able to see drawings, photos and video of what it would have looked like hundreds of years before. In the years since my excitement has continued to grow and I’ve written more and more articles on this and all other forms of augmenting our “cognitive capacities” and there have been more and more advances on transforming this vision into reality.
Google has just released an update on their work on “Project Glass” and some new prototypes they are testing with wider audiences now. One of their new examples can be seen in these photos for a pair of frames that sit above your eyes and provide information by looking up or another pair of more traditional glasses where the information is projected onto the clear glass lenses.
Nick Bolton provides a more comprehensive overview of this type of augmented reality in his NYT “Bits” article “Google begins testing its Augmented Reality glasses”. Personally I’m more excited and interested in future models Nick also notes of wearable and imbedded technology such as the contact lenses pictured here. I’ve posted previous articles with more of my thoughts on these such as this one on “Augmented Reality in Contact Lenses”.
Personally I will also welcome and be first in line for things like embedded ear buds that would give me additional sound and control to augment what I am hearing and a similar form of embedded microphones to augment my speech and vocal output. Begin to imagine having a camera, earphones and microphone literally “on you” or “in you” at all times?!
I’m pretty confident that groups of bright people all over the world will continue to develop every better augmented reality technology at an exponential rate and in all cases I think the greater challenge befalls the rest of us to begin figuring out how to use these well and how to deal with the inevitable pitfalls and more negative consequences all great innovations and inventions bring with them.
For example how will we deal with this significant additional increase in the information at our avail? In some of the more negative initial reactions to Google’s update some have already begun to worry about the likelihood that our eyes will be “augmented” with even more marketing images and this is a legitimate and inevitable concern.
However these new forms of information delivery and consumption are inevitable IMHO and so let’s just get over it and get on with it! WE get to chose how to use these new tools and information influx. As Clay Shirky put it so well; “There’s no such thing as information overload, just filter failure”. While there is no question we have lots of progress to make in overcoming “filter failure”, we ARE making progress and it seems to me that failure is the root of most learning so it is all good.
So let’s continue to develop better ways of filtering information in the Snowflake Effect tradition of getting just the right information for just the right person at just the right time in just the right context, and so on. We certainly have as much more more learning and creative thinking to do in coming up with new habits, conventions and techniques that will ensure that exponential innovation also leads to exponentially better living and learning!
Let’s start thinking about what an incredible way of augmenting our learning these kinds of “glasses” can be by enabling us to add additional information to what we are seeing before us. And note how Google’s Project Glass also includes a wearable camera. This makes taking pictures and video more instantly available anywhere, anytime and more transparently for us in that we would always have a camera available to capture serendipitous moments and memories by simply blinking our eyes or some other simple gesture. While there is always the “scary” part of how this can and will be used, this capability will also let us continue to live more IN life’s moments, enabling us to learn and live life more fully in the process.
It will take us many years to develop new conventions for all these kinds of new technology as well such as how do we best ‘interface” with them for things like gesture based control with our eyes. How do we learn to use these to improve our connections with others and not interfere? Gee, if you think people’s behavior with the use of cell phones and texting in the middle of a conversation are a problem just imagine what it will be like when we don’t even have to look away or down to see that new call coming in!!
As usual, it all comes back to and down to each of us snowflakes. WE are the ones who are responsible for our own behaviors and need to learn how to use and control the tools and technology we are surrounded by such that they increase our connections and conversations with the other special snowflakes around us.
I for one could not be more excited by both the new technology arriving daily and the new challenges and learning that lies before us and in many ways is already here. The best way I know of to counter FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt) is to run TOWARDS it rather than away from it by increasing our curiosity and learning of things we don’t know.