How Google's 'Project Glass' Could Change Business Communication Forever

On Wednesday, the wizards in pointy hats at Google unveiled a video of a project they currently have in the works: Project Glass. If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and watch it now. 

Go ahead. I'll wait.

If your head hasn't already exploded, then you're probably asking yourself: What the heck IS this?

Project Glass is what we techies call a HUD, or "Heads' Up Display." There have been many iterations of the HUD, but so far they have existed mainly to serve as a portable, wearable movie-watching device: you put on the "glasses," connect it to your Portable DVD Player or iPod, and watch Season 1 of Glee on a virtual, 40" screen. If you've ever tried this, however, you can attest to the device's, um, shortcomings. (It kinda sucks.)

So how is Project Glass different? Well, first of all, it isn't for movies. Well, it might be, but that's not the main purpose. It's a computer. That's right, much like the smartphone in your pocket, it's a connected, portable communications and entertainment device-- you can make and take phone calls, video chat, look up directions with Google Maps, even check in to your favorite restaurant via FourSquare. It's lightweight, hands-free, and completely voice-activated, and from the press images of the device itself, you won't have to look like LeVar Burton when you're doing it. Why does this matter, you ask? Isn't this just a gimmick, a prototype that maybe four people will ever use, and may never even reach the market?

Maybe. But it could just be the future of business communication-- and we should pray that it is. Here's why:

1. It Will Change The Way We Do Conferencing. Imagine sitting around the conference table, or on your couch, or Panera, or wherever you take your meetings, and seeing the other participants right in front of your face. Not on a tiny screen. No laptop to open up. They're just... right there. You can focus on one of them, and suddenly their face fills the whole screen, you can cycle through them, and then have them see your face when it's time to talk. Sure, many Webinars already do this to some extent, but there's a lot of software, clicking, and dragging involved. With Project Glass, you can simply see everything you want, right in front of you, anywhere. Pull up your PowerPoint Presentation in Google Docs, and suddenly everyone else sees it too. Video, audio, presentations, interaction-- all while keeping both hands free to grab that second espresso.

2. Augmented Reality Networking. You're at a new client meeting, or a networking event, and someone walks right up to you. "It's so good to see you again!" says this person you're clearly supposed to remember. And then your eyewear saves your behind: facial recognition pings and suddenly the screen in front of you has their name, company, LinkedIn profile, and that cute picture of Bruno, the family Labradoodle. "Jerry! Great to see you too. How's Bruno?" You: 1. Awkward Conversation: 0.

3. Find My Co-Workers. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Project Glass for Business is the integrated GPS. Clocking in or out becomes a thing of the past-- your eyewear knows when you get to work and when you leave, and can automagically keep track of hours worked or time spent at lunch. It can forward your work calls when you're heading out of the office, give you directions to a client's place of business-- even tell you where Bob from Accounting is right this second. I mean, you don't always have time to track Bob down. He's good at hiding. He's an accountant.

I know, I know, these are some lofty expectations for a yet-to-be-announced device, and like any other new product, version 1.0 won't do 90% of what you want it to. But that's what we said about the smartphone. And the tablet. They've gone further than anyone could have possibly hoped, and that's why I'm so damn excited about Project Glass. More than any other technological innovation in the past 15 years, this one really could change the way we do business forever. 

Subscribe to the TechBlog by Email
Posted on April 6, 2012 and filed under "business", "google", "innovation", "project glass", "technology".