Business

Get ready for the Google Glass Gold Rush

Above: Google Glass Gold Rush

Image Credit: Mohammed Elalj

In 2008, the App Store gave birth to million-dollar startups all over the world and has totally transformed the way we use mobile phones. By observing the phenomenal success of the smartphone, we can easily predict that Google Glass will be the next gold rush for developers.

This innovative wearable computer allows unique interaction with our daily lives. The potential for groundbreaking applications is extraordinary.

I assisted with a Google Glass presentation in London where I had the opportunity to speak with Alex Foster, RaceYourself cofounder. While he didn’t have a working prototype, he was already well underway securing investment to support his project. His pitch sounded like a script for a sci-fi movie:

Running alone in the park is so boring. Why not add some spice and make it more fun? Imagine if you could run with Usain Bolt or with your friend in another city. Why not speed it up as if you were being hunted down by zombies or fanatic dogs?

Augmented Reality objects are simply overlaid on top of the video from Glass’ camera allowing a fully immersive experience in an authentic-feeling environment.

During a recent trip to Hong Kong, I was unable to read some of the signage. I wasn’t even able to write it down on my smartphone so that it could be translated. With Glass, it could recognize the text and use Google Translate to provide subtitles underneath the words.

Other applications can be used for cinema. While in Spain, I really wanted to watch a movie that was available only in cinema and in Spanish. By using Google Glass and the right software, a user would be able to automatically understand the movie dialogue. You could also connect with the cinema to get the language-specific subtitles or soundtrack.

Still, many privacy and legal issues may arise from wearing a 24/7 working camera. There could be new signs forbidding customers to wear Google Glasses in certain places. Developers could also create an app that could obtain the count for Blackjack, but of course you would be ejected instantly from any casino you visited for wearing this gadget.

There are plenty of other possibilities to explore with Google Glass, especially in the area of embellishing the shopping experience.

You will, of course, need a compatible smartphone to make it work; preferably one with a longer battery life. Every early stage product has its weakness. Just remember when Steve Jobs first introduced the original iPhone. It was a total disruption to the mobile devices marketplace. Now, only six years later, the current iPhone 5s is 56x faster than the original iPhone. Imagine that!

Google has recently acquired Flutter, a gesture control technology. We can only guess that Google is experimenting with glasses that will be controlled not only by voice and touchpad, but also with gestures.

Google is well known for using the very best and brightest minds on the planet to develop technologies that simply amaze us. They have a unique understanding of how critical “human resources” are. If we can imagine it, we can build it. If we can dream it, we can create wonders like the world has never seen before.

Everyone has heard about the success of the App Store. Every developer who knows how to code can submit their application for review and make money selling it. For the smartphone market, more than 50 billion applications have been downloaded from the App Store (June 2013). Many startup companies and well-established businesses have based their business model on this platform and some of them are earning billions.

Instagram was released October 2010 and was sold to Facebook for $1 billion only 18 months later. Success stories don’t get much better than that.

Cellular data was no doubt the main success factor for smartphones, allowing users to have worldwide resources at their fingertips. By adding new sensors and hardware features, they now allow a better interaction with the environment (such as GPS, compass, a better camera, and faster broadband/CPU).

These amazing features only require that a user takes his smartphone out of his pocket, unlock it, launch the app, and perform the desired action. Using a handsfree device, the app could be available all day long and have a wider usage.

Some “Glass explorers” already have a prototype resting on their nose for testing, but the public release is planned for 2014 with a dedicated app store that will definitely create a new and explosive Gold Rush for new business opportunities.

Developers already have more than enough resources to begin working on the next innovative “Glassware”. The opportunities are there for us to seize if we dare.

Mohammed Elalj is the founder of RefurbMe, a service tracks refurbished Apple products, notifying users when a product they want becomes available. Still finishing his MSc in Computer Science in France, he also maintaining a blog about product development and entrepreneurship. You can find him on LinkedIn or follow him @simoelalj.


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