Google Glass brings forth visions of the future: It allows you to instantaneously videotape what you see, obtain accurate facts about someone you’re meeting just now, get directions as you walk down an unfamiliar street, and accomplish so much more without even using your hands.
So you think this latest gizmo from the US search giant will turn you into some sort of bionic Superman or Wonder Woman? Maybe. But more likely, it will turn you into a shopaholic. And probably cross-eyed, too.
Even before this head-mounted, eyeglasses-like computer is officially launched, countless entrepreneurial nerds are wracking their brains over the most mundane of questions: how can we make money out of it?
One market expert believes that the device will herald a new era of shopping and consumption, and Google Inc. stands to profit much from it — not from the sale of the device itself, but from the huge amounts of data it collects from individual users.
“What’s so special about Google Glass is it knows exactly what you are looking at,” says Fred Wong, a portfolio manager at eFusion Investment Ltd. “It can collect all this information and form a fairly accurate idea of what you like and what you don’t like.”
This data can help manufacturers and retailers to fine-tune their products and marketing strategies to suit their target clientele.
Google Glass will also record all the items that you’ve searched on the internet or discussed on social media platforms. With the help of GPS and 3D scanning, the Glass will notify you of the products that suit your fancy if you pass by a store that is selling them. If you’re near a mall or inside one, it can tell you exactly on which floor these items are located, or even tell you if there’s a sale going on.
In short, it’s like a digital genie — only that you get to pay for the items you desire.
“People might think this is science fiction, but I think this will happen in 18 months’ time,” says Wong.
Next week, on April 15 to be exact, 10,000 units of Google Glass will be sold at US$1,500 each in the United States only. The so-called Explorer Edition is being launched simply to gather user experience from testers and software developers.
But when the commercial launch takes place, consumer response is likely to be overwhelming, despite the stiff price tag, market observers say.
For one thing, it will be coolest device on the market. Who would not want to be seen wearing the optical head-mounted display (OHMD) and talking to the computer? (Yes, talking; look, Ma, no hands.)
Other than its “wow” impact on ordinary consumers, Google Glass also offers useful applications for professionals such as doctors and engineers.
“Doctors wearing the Google Glass can see a patient’s vital signs and indicators like heartbeat and blood pressure during an emergency situation, say, a road accident. It’s like having a monitor right before your eyes,” says Wong.
It’s not just Google that is breaking ground in this field. Last month, Facebook announced it has acquired Oculus VR, a company developing virtual reality technology, for US$2 billion. Microsoft was also reported to have spent US$150 million on Osterhout Design Group, a company that develops wearable computing devices.
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