I, Cyborg

The big news out of Google’s I/O conference in San Francisco was, of course, the $199 Nexus 7 Tablet. We all knew it was coming, though. For me, the real surprise was Project Glass. We’d heard about Google’s computer-infused glasses already, too. Google co-founder Sergey Brin had even been spotted wearing a pair at dinner. However, we’d never seen them quite like this:

That’s really just a teaser. The Google keynote that showed off the glasses was even more impressive. (CNet TV has the video footage if you want to watch it for yourself.) A pair of the glasses were delivered to Brin by a relay of Red Bull-worthy stunts, starting with a skydive onto the roof of the Moscone Center where I/O was held. A team of mountain bikers took over from there, kicking out a few tricks before the glasses were rappelled down the side of the building. Next, a final ride onto the main stage.

The entire trip was streamed live from Project Glass units worn by the extreme delivery team.

Dude, that is so awesome.

And it got better. Although the final Google Glass product won’t be on the market until 2014, attendees of the conference were given the opportunity to get in on the action early. For $1,500, they can order a pair of "Explorer Edition" specs for delivery early next year. Brin told Bloomberg that Google has received a lot of input on Glass already, and that it wants to bring others into the project’s development. He wants to "make science fiction real," and there’s apparently been plenty of interest. Brin noted that Google may run out of the swanky packages it put together for those taking advantage of the Explorer offer.

No wonder. Google Glass may be hugely geeky and perhaps even mildly contraceptive, but it’s the most convincing wearable computer I’ve seen. The reality isn’t far removed from science fiction. Sooner or later, we’re going to be cyborgs.

To be fair, Google’s Glasses won’t shoot laser beams, see through walls, or allow us to leap over tall buildings. They will jack us into the Internet, though, and it’s that infusion of information that bestows superhuman powers.

We’re pretty much there already. Quick, grab your smartphone. Bet that didn’t take long. If you weren’t sitting on the thing, it was probably within arm’s reach. Odds are that pocket-sized piece of technology has barely left your side since it woke you up this morning. It’s your link to The Matrix—a conduit to your digital life, the people in it, and the ever-expanding wealth of information available online.

Smartphones are increasingly taking in information from our surroundings, too. Regrettable Facebook snapshots are captured on wild nights out. QR readers decode URLs from digital hieroglyps. Devices talk to each other via NFC transmissions. Foreign languages are translated from pictures alone. We speak questions to Siri, sometimes even getting the right answer. And, most appropriately for Glass, real-time camera streams feed applications that augment our reality.

Pocketable computers are becoming smarter about anticipating our needs, too. The freshly announced Google Now promises to check traffic reports and prepare an alternate route automatically when it knows you’re heading out for the morning commute. Imagine what would be possible with the feed from a camera mounted on the auxiliary brain resting on the bridge of your nose.

<Simpsons comic book guy voice>Um, excuse me, we’re still a ways off from being true cyborgs. Nothing remotely resembling a smartphone is going to be integrated into our biology anytime soon.</lisp> True, but we’re better off for it. We can switch between multiple augmenting devices with ease; who wants to go under the knife for a hardware upgrade?

More importantly, we can turn our devices off, leave them in the next room, or otherwise separate ourselves when we choose. We control when, where, and how we immerse ourselves in the spoils of our growing virtual world. At the very least, we’re becoming virtual cyborgs.

Some of us are better at cutting the cord than others. A stubborn few seem to find it difficult to put their devices into silent mode, let alone sever their connection to the Borg collective. Those folks are probably going to both love Google Glass and lament the fact that the battery likely won’t last through an entire day of lifestreaming. I dread the wave of narcissistic over-sharing to come.

Even so, I can’t help but be excited by Google Glass. While I can’t see myself wearing a pair of computerized glasses regularly, I can already envision a few neat applications. The fact that Google is engaging with interested developers so early makes me even more intrigued by the project’s potential.

Pocketable computers are commonplace now. Wearable ones are the next step in our cyborg evolution, bringing us ever deeper into the increasingly real world of science fiction. Now, where’s my flying car?

Comments closed
    • Neutronbeam
    • 7 years ago

    What are we talking about again? I just want to know who the chick is on the right. ;->

    • brucethemoose
    • 7 years ago

    If I thought these would ever become fashionable and mainstream, I would be terrified! Think about it… Instead of logging in when you want, google, facebook, and the whole internet would be following you all the time, even when you don’t want it. Do you really want a crowd uploading what you did at a party last night?

    Fortunately, even if you put the massive legal issues aside, these will be about as popular as segways are.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      i think you’re misunderestimating the stupidity of people.

    • ALiLPinkMonster
    • 7 years ago

    Meanwhile, the folks over at thinkgeek are moving in the [url=http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/cellphone/ee1e/?srp=1<]opposite direction[/url<].

    • moog
    • 7 years ago

    I refuse to talk to anyone wearing one and will ask them to take it off before talking with me.

    If I’m chatting with you in a coffee shop I don’t need it recorded (I can’t know if it’s recording, so this is why I’ll ask you to remove the device), I don’t need Google analyzing me, and I don’t need it stored somewhere for you to analyze or blackmail me etc. later, and I don’t need it streamed or blogged or uploaded or whatevered to youtube for the pleasure of the uncouth youth of this hedonistic culture.

    (Btw, as a Cyborg, by definition you would have to go under the knife. But if you mean you are a drone assimilated into the Google collective then it would makes sense in a loose way.)

    Edit: Oh right, disclaimer, I’m young, and I use a dumbphone.

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    Oh i forgot:

    Vegeta!

    What does the google glasses say about his fashion level?

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      Your comment made me notice the hideous [i<]popped collar[/i<] on the left-side photo. [i<]It even has its own zipper.[/i<]

        • Firestarter
        • 7 years ago

        Looks like a leather hoodie to me

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        that’s where his hood is for when he’s gotta strut in the rain.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      It’s under 9000! (because someone had to)

    • oldog
    • 7 years ago

    I’m just waiting for someone to Photoshop these glasses on an overweight, unattractive slob (like me).

    I bet that would get everyone really hot for these things.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      man, just talking about it is making me want to buy some.

    • smilingcrow
    • 7 years ago

    I can’t wait to shut down my business, buy a Motorhome and spend 2 or 3 months in the Scottish Highlands away from TV, broadband etc. That’s just for starters.
    Surrounded by nature, meditate 2 or 3 hours a day, walk and cycle in beautiful settings.
    The more devices I have the less connected I feel to the deepest part of myself which is more valuable than the whole of the WWW.
    2 months left and then I’m outta here baby.
    Unplug, tune in and drop out.
    It’s all a dream anyway and I don’t dream of electric sheep even though I’m Welsh. 🙂

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      WTF. I’VE ENJOYED YOUR POSTS FOREVER. DON’T QUIT NOW. SERIOUSLY! WHAT WILL I DO WITH MYSELF?

        • smilingcrow
        • 7 years ago

        Give me an address and I’ll send you a postcard when I get back from my 40 days in the Scottish wilderness. Just don’t expect a single malt with the card. 🙂

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          I don’t know what a single malt is, but let me know when you get back!

            • smilingcrow
            • 7 years ago

            [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_malt_whisky[/url<]

            • cygnus1
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]I don't know what a single malt is[/quote<] You sir, are an amateur.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            I have never drank alcohol in my life.it’s not something i’m going to start now.

            • Meadows
            • 7 years ago

            +1.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            *hugz* <3
            i’m surprised my post is in the positive! this group is usually full of alcoholics! i thought i’d be downvoted for sure!

    • liquidsquid
    • 7 years ago

    I love how tech is promoted with “risk taking” and sexy people. The very thing social tech seems to do, from what I have seen, is take risk-taking out of people’s social lives. It also tends to isolate people into their shell and their homes away from adventure and face-to-face as often. Not all the time, but trends…

    Just an observation of how tech is promoted against reality.

    Sort of like saying going to an engineering conference is a great place to meet women.

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    The pictures leave me wondering if you can only use them while wearing black leather (and the biker in me considers the question irrelevant).

    Seriously: the time until law enforcement agencies request covert taps into your video stream will be measured in nanoseconds.

    EDIT: Just realized that law enforcement will hate these for another reason: they’ll be the ‘in’ fashion rage at the next protest event. I can seriously see them being confiscated; don’t forget that dozens of police forces have pushed for laws making it illegal to make video records of their actions.

      • Darkmage
      • 7 years ago

      And thankfully they’ve been pushed back on that front in multiple court instances. The only time I’m aware that such a case did succeed, it was because the judge in question thought the law was unconstitutional on its face and he wanted a good crack at overturning it.

      It’s not the end of the world. Yet.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 7 years ago

    I just want my hoverboard.

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 7 years ago

      [url<]http://www.buzzfeed.com/katienotopoulos/why-is-back-to-the-future-day-such-a-persistent[/url<]

        • bobboobles
        • 7 years ago

        That was the worst written article I’ve read all day!

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          Yeah, it was much easier for me to post the youtube video instead.

          [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Tf8mPsvcOs[/url<]

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    if it’s not x-ray, i’m not buying. what’s the point if there’s no nudity? seriously. there are already helmet cams, and smartphones already do lots of stuff.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    There will always be haters, neigh-sayers, and luddites. Progress will continue drumming forward though. There will always be a place for people who don’t want to change and those who can’t program their VCR so it stops blinking 12.

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 7 years ago

      Where? Comment not applicable here. It’s not even possible to be a hater with a non-existant product. This tech is awesome, just not yet available and overly expensive. I could see this eventually merging and being subsidised with cell phones.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Read the other comments…

        Sometimes the scope is a little bit bigger then a news page post as well.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      what is this even in regards to? you’re just making a random statement?

        • End User
        • 7 years ago

        LOL! Bensam123 is taking a page out of your book.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          yeah, BUT AT LEAST I USE ALL CAPS AND AM SUPER CUTE.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            well you use all-caps…

            • dpaus
            • 7 years ago

            …and even that’s not consistent.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            you two quit pretending you don’t love me. you BOTH do, and everyone knows it!

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Read the other comments…

        Sometimes the scope is a little bit bigger then a news page post as well.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          scope? like mouth wash? i don’t understand.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      Ah yes, the neigh-sayers. Here’s one right now:

      [url<]http://bit.ly/nKDO6A[/url<] You probably mean nay-sayer, but I couldn't quite get this out of my head.

    • Arag0n
    • 7 years ago

    I feel funny how they shadow the left side of the face of both persons so people can´t see how ugly it looks to wear asymmetric glasses. They need to make those glasses bigger and more nice looking, just like a fashionable sun-glasses.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      I think the intention is to highlight the side that is wearing the augmentation.

      And if you looked like either of those models, I don’t think people would be terribly distracted by your asymmetric glasses.

        • Arag0n
        • 7 years ago

        You may have a point, but as you can see, it´s not that right side is highlighted, it´s that left side is completely darkened, so the focus was to hide something not to highlight something.

          • ludi
          • 7 years ago

          So you’re more of a “glasses half empty” kind of guy, I take it.

            • Arag0n
            • 7 years ago

            Lol, going to attack my person cuz you have nothing to argue about my statement? Funny guy, I get that you are the kind of guy that don´t know how to lose 🙂

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            Nah, just pointing out that you said the exact same thing as I did, except from the negative perspective.

            If that’s what constitutes a personal attack in Arag0n Land then you may have been just a tad sheltered.

            • Arag0n
            • 7 years ago

            Lol, I’m just pointing that darker one area is not the same as highlight another. Highlight one side means to make it more easy to see rather than make impossible to see the other one. Still, even if they wanted just to highlight the glasses it doesn´t change the fact that they look ugly. They need something that looks more symmetric like a fashion sunglasses. Something people actually may be willing to wear normally or just some kind of fashion mount that people can buy and let glasses shop add your normal lenses.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            “Highlight” and “obscure” are not mutually exclusive; your definitions need some adjustment. You can do both in a single image to achieve a particular effect, particularly when working in B&W, which looks washed out and ugly if good contrast isn’t applied. I rather expect that if the lighting had been set up on the right, you would be telling us how they were so obviously trying to obscure the Google Glasses into the shadow because they’re ugly, the common denominator in both scenarios being that you apparently don’t like the appearance of the Google Glasses.

            More to the point, there are dozens of press photos for this product floating around, and these are the only two that have the lighting set up like this, so at a first glance, I assume it was mostly for the artistic effect of [i<]highlighting[/i<] the product they're developing.

            • Noigel
            • 7 years ago

            They look ugly in the opening pic/vid of the the dude skydiving, nice and bright there. The “glamour” shots are better but tech-geeky… sort of remind me of video game characters… something from Half Life or Dues Ex.

    • trackerben
    • 7 years ago

    Nothing will get in the way of the universal establishment of rapid global digital commerce. One which will provision for easy exchange and settlement on demand between fulfillment domains, in timely response to the onset of an ordained singularity. Nothing, not even encumbered human faculties.

      • Kurkotain
      • 7 years ago

      …wait, what?

      • smilingcrow
      • 7 years ago

      Except for patents and lawyers.

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    Seems like something only a fashionista would wear. Or people doing crazy sh*t that prefer blurry unfocused video of them doing the crazy thing they like.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      That’s the early-adopter version. Before the end of the decade, it will be sharply focused 1080P video with a parallel night vision stream, and holographic HUD enhancements projected directly to your retina.

    • DancinJack
    • 7 years ago

    I honestly just couldn’t stop thinking about Star Trek while reading this. Started with JLP, then to the borg Hugh, and finally to the first episode of DS9 where we find out Sisko hates JLP for killing his wife. Had to read it twice to comprehend anything.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]More importantly, we can turn our devices off, leave them in the next room, or otherwise separate ourselves when we choose.[/quote<] If be 'we' you mean about 3.8% of the smart-phone owning public... [quote<]A stubborn few seem to find it difficult to put their devices into silent mode, let alone sever their connection to the Borg collective.[/quote<] Again, it's more like the reverse. [quote<]I dread the wave of narcissistic over-sharing to come.[/quote<] ..to come? ===== Yeah, so I'm cynical. Geoff, maybe the people you're around average 30+. They probably didn't have cellphones before their 20s, and obviously not modern smartphones. Due to work I am often around younger people, 18-25, and I am honestly worried about the lack of ability to interact face to face. It's hard to say, maybe they would just be the shy quiet ones otherwise, but it gets old when whatever is on their phone is more important that what is right in front of them. I just feel like something is...missing when we are overly connected to something distant rather than something immediate. I don't think useful connectedness is all bad, there can just be too much. Is it sad to be a curmudgeon before halfway through the average life span?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      I get what you’re saying now, and I think I agree. However, I have 30-something co-workers that have the same issues as your 18-25 co-workers, though. I don’t think ti’s entirely age-related as you seem to think.

      • Squeazle
      • 7 years ago

      It is hard to argue that the population of smart phone owners is small (probably not for the readers of this fine site) and yet the population of people who can’t ignore their phone is large.

      What I see occurring is lots of people who are glad to silence their phones, or abandon them altogether for a weekend of camping, but a small, noisy few, who ruin it for the rest of us. I have yet to see an entire room of people with their phone out, just the odd duck that gets a wrist slap every now and again.

      There is a real lack of interpersonal communication these days though. But I don’t see this technology pushing us towards the problem any more than it pushes us towards the solution. There is enough tech already to immerse someone for a lifetime.

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        oh man, i WISH i didn’t see entire rooms of people with their phones out, but i see it every other day or two. drives me up the wall. 5-10 people ALL SITTIN ON THEIR GOSH DARN PHONES.

    • Meadows
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]"We speak questions to Siri, sometimes even getting the right answer."[/quote<] Lol.

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