5 ways Google Glass may impact creative industry pros

We know Google is doing it; we’ve heard that Apple’s been looking at it, so just what is it? Video-enabled glasses with all the features you’d expect from a smartphone and the capacity to offer you augmented reality features, alongside motion and voice controls. So what impact might these tools have on creatives (If they become popular)?

Augmented reality

The theory is pretty simple: All the business, landmark, location and other information you find nestled inside the best mapping apps; all the reviews, shared notes and historical information regarding destinations; and all manner of retail-related data (deals, discounts etc.) will inevitably be made available via these intelligent video glasses.

In use you might touch a sensor on the side of the glasses after which you might speak, or use a virtual keyboard projected onto your hand, or even a series of gesture controls (bound to make public transport more embarrassing) in order to make a request.  The information you seek will then appear in your viewfinder in an appropriate way — arrows for directions, for example.

There has to be opportunity here for different creative assets to be tied to a location or place. One example that comes to mind: You might find yourself at The Tower of London and get the opportunity to watch a short clip about an aspect of the place, a clip custom-made to work well with your viewfinder, while also being short enough not to distract you too much while you walk around.

Film and television

Smartphone users can already sit back and watch a film on their screen, or summon up some BBC coverage from iPlayer, or catch a music video they own via iTunes or choose to stream through Vivo or YouTube.

Video glasses seem likely to enable similar experiences. This will likely pose a need to create high-res assets at low enough bitrates to stream happily to the devices (which are unlikely to contain much storage). Good work for post production houses who might choose to develop expertise in achieving this to add to their offerings.

Another impact might be in how we watch television, as our video glasses become a form of remote control. We might watch a show (summoned by asking our glasses) on the box while also being plugged into Twitter in our eyepiece to keep up with what’s being said. That’s very little different from what we might get from a smartphone or iPad, but somehow more ambient than using another device.

This is an opportunity for app developers, and broadcasters, who might choose to transmit detailed information concerning their shows along with the programme itself, information we can explore using our TV or, if we choose, via our device. How else might these be implemented?

Virtual experiences

MMORPG games are extremely addictive — around 50 percent of such gamers consider themselves addicted. Add augmented reality and the capacity to encounter location-sensitive data distributed to you only when you arrive in a real (non-virtual) destination, and there must be potential for the development of new augmented/virtual reality style games.

These could be educational — guiding students around art galleries or museums through a game which also educates and informs its players; this could be recreational, in which groups of friends might engage in a virtual treasure hunt in their city or town; these experiences could even blur the boundary between the real and digital worlds.

The evolution of these experiences, experiences both engaging and discreet, should present opportunities for games developers, graphic design shops and creatives. They’ll be looking to identify what best works in a real environment on a small display, and just how far they can blur the boundary between the real and digital worlds as they attempt to deliver experiences so seamless many might wonder how they ever lived without them.

You might see similar implementations emerge for dating services — but could you live with the results?

Social media and news reporting

If you’ve ever struggled with a social media website while trying to figure out how you can use it to really show people the world through your lens, you’ll be able to achieve this using devices like this. In theory at least you should be able to post amusing snow videos taken from your perspective to your social media stream for your friends to like.

There’s more serious implications, of course: on-the-spot interviews can be filmed by the person taking the interview. The potential for security is also there — capturing on the spot live footage of miscreants automatically with a call placed with law enforcement at a single spoken command.

And if you wanted to create a remake of the first person action of The Blair Witch project, things like these should enable you to achieve just that. How else might you use them?

Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 19.49.16

The catch

Other than standing out like some Nathan Barley-esque sore thumb when you wear these things (would you wear that?), there’s a few downsides to these devices.

Imagine if your eyewear were automatically telling someone your location; imagine too if your media and purchasing habits had already been analysed enabling the computer to see you as a searchable commodity. Then add advertising — everywhere.

When using those augmented reality apps, you may find you also need to contend with ads in your viewfinder, custom-built for you these will pop up when you pass a shop with a special offer you’re the right demographic group to enjoy. You may find yourself attempting to experience real reality while also fighting a constant cacophony of attention-seeking advertising.

While this sounds like a good fit — you take some advertising in exchange for free services — there’s privacy and data protection problems inherent in the depth of data available. Though this evolution of product marketing is clearly an opportunity for marketing creatives everywhere — how to use this space without upsetting users will be critical.

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