Google Glass: The Next Era of Personal Computing

Recently I wrote up some initial impressions on using Google Glass, but Glass represents something so new that my impressions form and change every day. It has been very difficult for me to neatly arrange my thoughts for this post as I feel Glass represents so much and is, arguably, a culmination of Google’s finest work yet.

It has been widely discussed that Glass isn’t yet a final product and will evolve into something more sophisticated and powerful. The more I discuss this idea with the Somo innovation team and friends around the industry the more I realise how exciting and powerful Glass will be, so I wanted to take a stab at why I think Glass has such massive potential, and look at the impact it will have on our lives.

Google are changing the way we interact with computers

Glass represents some of Google’s finest work in one product; it follows a few recent significant strategic moves by the tech giant.

In 2012 Google changed the way it indexed information; the Knowledge Graph was created to understand the relationship and connection between objects, moving away from just searching for strings of characters. This helped Google to “understand the world in the way [we] do”. Cool.

2013, Google announces Conversational Search, utilising the Knowledge Graph to the fullest. Forget the fact that Google’s speech detection is as good, if not better than Siri, using the Knowledge Graph now allows Google to ‘hear’ questions you are asking it and respond in a human way. Ask Chrome ‘how old is Obama?’ and it knows you are very likely asking ‘how old is Barrack Obama?’. Then ask ‘how old is his wife?’ and it knows that you are really asking ‘how old is Michelle Obama?’. Subtle difference, massive implications.

Again, 2013 and Google launches Google Now, their predictive assistant that learns from your behaviour across the web and serves you content that you want, when you want it. On Android this is amazing. Stick with it…

Later in 2013 and Glass is soft-launched. Glass has a, largely, hands-free UI that enables the user to talk to it, and it talks back – a big step towards Natural User Interfaces (NUIs). Super.

Right. Now Glass does not perfectly implement all of the above at the moment but Google have now released a device and technology that learns from you, serves you relevant content at the right time in a couple of unobtrusive ways, it will talk to you, you can talk back, it will understand you. Game. Done. Changed.

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Wearable tech needs to be fashionable

Say what you want about Glass v1; some think it’s cool already, others do not. For wearable tech to be mainstream it needs to be cooler. It needs to be in the arm of some Tom Ford specs, not look like a Bluetooth headset on crack. No doubt Glass will be refined when released to consumers, but I believe that we will see ‘now with Glass technology!’ claims on Tom Ford, Burberry, Oakley etc. glasses. It will become integrated into fashionable goods. A brilliant article on why wearable tech needs fashion to thrive should be read for a detailed explanation. Continue reading

My Comments On… “Seeing Things Differently: Are Brands Missing the Boat With Augmented Reality”

This has been up on The Drum’s site for over a month but I didn’t see it until now!

The article discusses Augmented Reality for advertising purposes, and asks what is needed for AR to become mainstream. Read the full article on The Drum for more comments from Maarten Lens-FitzGerald, co-founder of Layar, and Lauren Offers, head of Aurasma marketing.

 

AR will be further propelled into the mainstream with the introduction of AR-enabled mobile devices (without the need to install an app). Progress is being made in this area, with Metaio and ST-Ericsson introducing the first augmented– reality chipset in February this year, paving the way to always-on AR. Chip designer ARM is also working with developers to build augmented reality that can track real-world objects such as buildings. Joel Blackmore, senior innovation manager at Somo, believes universal access is crucial to build mass-market scale.

 

“The problem with current AR is that it needs to be fired up in a native app, requiring a download or an open app in order to interact. This places unnecessary barriers for customers to engage in an AR experience, in what is often an impulse situation,” he explains.

 

“For AR to become mainstream and open up all the marketing opportunities it promises, the experience either needs to be fired up within mobile web (thereby negating an app download) or even better, be built into the smartphone and tablet operating system as a standard AR viewer. Once steps are removed from the process through mobile web access, or removed altogether through universal access to an AR engine, we can use mobile to create the link between the physical and digital worlds and augment on a mass-market scale.”

 

 

Tips for AR success: How can advertisers harness what is still a relatively underused medium?

 

“Your experience is only as good as your content. If you are delivering any content through your experience, make it worthwhile. If the user only gets the same trailer they have already seen on YouTube, is this a good experience? Provide exclusives if you can.”
Joel Blackmore, senior innovation manager, Somo

 

 

#IgotGlassed – My first impressions using Google Glass

We’ve just got our hands on one of two Glass units here at Somo. I’ve had a bit of a play around and thought I would jot down some initial impressions seeing as no one on the internet is talking about Glass…

How does it feel?

Weird. Low-res. High-up in my field of vision. A wee bit sparse. Feels like Google Now for your face. Using it feels ok when you get used to it, but I imagined it to fit into my routine seamlessly so I could stroll along checking out the latest NYT stories – not so, it is very distracting when viewing content and I wouldn’t consider it sensible or safe to carry on your daily business.

Do you like what it looks like?

What. A. Dick.

What. A. Dick.

Do you? I think it looks like a computer on your face, and when the screen is on it looks like your devil-eyes glow red. However, in saying this, I am getting more and more used to seeing it around the office now. I think it looks like a great v1. It really makes this Wired article on wearable tech needing fashion to thrive make a lot more sense.

** EDIT

The ’tilt head up to switch on’ manoeuvre is both ridiculous and hilarious (when other people are doing it, not me). You can’t really use it purely without your hands. At some point you need to touch it, which is annoying seeing as it’s on my face.

How easy is it to use? #speechdetection

It is easy. Even new gestures are pretty simple. The only thing that isn’t that ‘easy’ to use is the speech detection – it’s as good as any Google speech detection, it’s pretty good, but quite a few times it picked up what I was saying incorrectly. Also, it was a surprise to me to get generic search results through when asking Glass to ‘find me a hotel’. I was served with the full search result (not sure if it was PPC or not) including such inspiring copy as “Find cheap hotels, discount hotels and last minute hotel deals at LateRooms.com – theHotel Offers Experts. Book hotels & make hotel reservations online or by ...”. Not cool.

I’m using a shared Glass so have only used a few apps. NYT is pretty impressive as it seems to suit the use case of ‘give me small headline snippets of content’ and it reads them aloud to you so that you don’t focus on the screen for more than a couple of seconds.

**EDIT

The speech detection is pretty annoying actually. Lots wrong. It also reminds me why being conversational, like Siri, or Chrome’s recent conversational search, is important. When asked “how old is Obama?” it told me the correct answer. When I asked “how old is his wife?” it didn’t even register that I was trying to talk with it.

Overall…

It’s fun, new, innovative, unique, but a little limited at the moment. This will no doubt evolve into something really useful over the next year, it just very much seems like a v1 product. If Google had given these units out for free, or very cheap, then it would be awesome and completely worth it, however, paying $1,500 for one at the moment isn’t hugely worthwhile.

Will this replace my mobile? No chance. Our phones are really sophisticated, powerful devices that offer everything from 10 times a day utility, through to Plants Vs Zombies. My iPhone offers me far too many rich, thoroughly thought-out, reliable experiences that I fear Glass, or wearable tech sans-smartphone, will take years to match. I see Glass as a very ‘top-level’ gadget – something to give you a snapshot of info – where phones will remain the device of choice for longer, more in-depth experiences.

Mobile Marketing AR is Boring

Currently Augmented Reality (AR) campaigns for mobile are pretty bad. I just watched this video for Starbucks’ new Christmas AR-ready seasonal cups (I know I’m a bit late with this):

Read about what the App does on Mashable.

I get it. There’s an item in an area of high dwell time (although these are takeaway cups) and you have users sitting around playing with their phones. The perfect opportunity to get consumers to interact with your product. However, the end result is always a half-baked attempt at something engaging that you may open once but certainly won’t return to.

I’m yet to see a really effective AR mobile marketing campaign. I’d love to see some if you have examples – @joelblackmore

AR in general has such potential, and will soon be perfected on mobile, it’s just frustrating that all the current campaigns are boring. Watch this old concept video for minor car repair by BMW:

When are we going to see something as genuinely useful and well though through as this in AR mobile marketing?

AR Example – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on ShortList

Again ShortList have responsive advertising on their front cover. This time it’s an augmented reality (AR) campaign powered by Zappar. Scanning the cover of ShortList using Zappar brings up an AR layer with the option to view the trailer or play a simple pea and cup game. On completion of the game the user is driven to a mobile optimised site to enter a competition.

Although the AR worked well and the pea and cup game was nice, the campaign could have been improved by a clearer call to action to scan the cover (the CTA was on the back cover only) and having a compelling mobile microsite like the Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception example.

20111208-191925.jpg Continue reading