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Google and glass

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Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 11:57 am

A small group of us from the Sentinel traveled to the Googleplex in Mountain View a few years back to hammer out an agreement for the Googleites to digitize our newspaper archives.

We were treated very well.

The presentation was concise, visual, persuasive. Afterwards, we were invited to lunch in the Google cafeteria, if that’s the right word. There were varied cuisines, all you wanted to eat, a clean, pleasant atmosphere.

Later, we were handed take-home bags with Google caps and notebooks.

The campus itself held lawns and volleyball courts. Geeks on scooters were zipping from building to building. A mix of fun and very hard, focused, creative work done by the cream of the Stanford and Harvard crop.

Animal House meets The Matrix.

It was hard not to be impressed by the place, and the people there, and I’ve tried to keep up with Google’s innovations since our visit there.

Now comes Google Glass.

It’s not for sale yet, and may not be for many months, but Google gave the world a sneak peek through a promotional video.

What is Google Glass? A device much like eyeglasses, except with a head’s up display that provides intermittent bursts of information. As reflected in the video, as you walk around Manhattan, for instance, you can: learn the subway is closed and find the closest alternative; see a poster for a concert and buy tickets; talk to a friend and agree to meet up later in the day.

It’s the kind of stuff you might use your Smart Phone for, but with GG the information is displayed right in front of your eyes and you can interact through voice command.

The glass project is being incubated through Google X, the company’s futuristic think tank/research lab in Mountain View.

If this thing can be refined, it could help with everyday planning (what’s the best way to commute home?) work (what is the latest news, stock valuation) and leisure (buy me tickets to the Giants game this weekend, Mr. Glass.)

But some critics say Google is playing with us all, offering a futuristic whiff of a product that, as celebrated in the video, may be years away.

And what of being overly digitized? Many of us already spend many hours in the digital world, producing news or videos, blogging, playing Words With Friends, gazing at YouTube videos or cybersurfing.

Do we have to be connected when are just walking around, too?

Can’t we just look at the scenery and stroll along, without Google getting in our faces?

After we returned from our trip to Mountain View, we did the deal with Google. The company did what it said.

Our archives are now digitized and are accessible on our web page, thanks to Google.

I’ve learned not to underestimate the gang of young geniuses who inhabit the Googleplex.

My hunch: For better or worse, Google Glass will happen sooner than later.

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