Friday, 19 April 2013

Google Glass is nearly here. The small, lightweight cloud driven portal to alternative reality is just around the corner. A corner that, in the very near future could be defined by you, to a pattern created by you or as a surprise in a world you purchase or borrow.

Moores Law is becoming visibly influential on our lives. For many years, the growth of the transistor market has been measured by us end users by how small the next stereo system or how flat our TV.. The enticing world of invisible computer power has been frustratingly out of reach. Until soon.

Google are masters of marketing. For months, I waited to see if my application for a Gmail address would be accepted. I gradually started tidying up my Yahoo and Hotmail accounts and abandoned 'Stand alone' email providers altogether. I was being encouraged to see my future relationship with the computer on my desk as being dependent on remote servers, benignly linked for my convenience and there to service my every need. Google had me. Even when the doomed 'Wave' came and went and as I see G+ as less and less relevant, I stick with them. I now rely on Google invisibly stitching the elements of my web presence together seamlessly. Clones of familiar programs in Google Drive raking up the loose leaves of my Word, Exel and Powerpoint and offering them back with little fuss. Google and I are happy to be co owners of the processors I have bought. The key word is trust.

I have spent years wondering why this is. How this relationship has been allowed to come about. Whether or not I have been deluding myself, I have come to the conclusion that Google are the closest thing to an analogue version of my own inquiry. They sit happily gathering information about me as I shamelessly relinquish my ability to pick up a book and lazily plunder their search engines. I do so however, feeling as if I am somehow engaged in a partnership. A partnership forged by exploration.

It is comforting to see some of my flimsy forecasts come to reality as they are gradually realised by industry. Over time, I have enjoyed daydreaming in a Clarkeian fashion. His 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic', has been a great 'Get out of jail free' card as I have dreamed of music storage with no moving parts. Of TV screens of higher and higher resolution and cardboard thinness. (I would like to add a long held prediction that the ultimate goal for television resolution will come when a mirror portrayed on screen will actually reflect an image of the observer outside it). Computers that become ubiquitous and indispensable. Most of all, my musings have landed most frequently on Reality Augmentation.

Imagine a world where one may hold a device up to frame it. Labels and information overlaying landmarks or shops as you walk. Adverts and easy directions offered, inviting you to visit or merely educating you as you amble about. This is already here. My Nokia and any Smartphone will now offer City Lens or equivalent, adjusting detail as you go and combining advertising with GPS. No need to ask a local. We are all locals now.

Gaming will be next. Our world is made of shapes. Shapes that are easily located in space and time by existing technology. Overlaying those shapes will become the norm. True 'Holodeck' 3D imagary will not be quick in coming, but Reconstruction will be here very soon. A bus may become anything large and trundling. Mammoths will face rebirth. A lamppost? a tree, or the corner location of a building retrieved from elsewhere. Existing Multiplayer adventures will be experienced in the real world. Ordinary pedestrians woven into the narratives we choose as Non Playing Characters. The future is fraught with hilarious accident. If we're lucky.

The equipment, as offered by Google is small and neat. But that is what they said about the first industrially viable computers. (Please see previous post, here). It would seem reasonable to expect this magic to become gradually indistinguishable from our own design. The processors further miniaturised and floating displays generated using our own corneal tissues. Unfortunately, someone in a cushion strewn R and D office in the Apple complex will come up with The 'i-Eye' and a new logo will appear.

It even has a purpose built touch tablet stylus. How convenient is that?

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