Before most of us have had our first chance to try Google Glass, a device that hides computing and communications inside a pair of eyeglasses, restless software developers are racing to come up with ways to advance the nascent technology.
So it is that OnTheGo Platforms, a Portland-based company with solid roots in Vancouver, is developing Android-based software that will allow Google Glass users to control their device using hand gestures, rather than voice or touch commands. Be forewarned: that person you see in the coffee shop moving his arms in strange ways may be talking to his glasses.
Before going any further with that thought, a basic explanation of Google Glass is in order. The wonder product, still in development, is a technology-loaded pair of glasses or sunglasses that incorporates the functions of a computer and phone, equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to connect you to the world. Information is displayed in the user’s field of vision. Look straight ahead, you see the person or object in front of you. But look above your line of vision and you can draw from your concealed computer’s vast reservoir of knowledge. You’ll be able to view a map, or a website, check your running pace, or record a video of the fish that didn’t get away. You could tweet and send or receive an email. In the not-distant future, you’ll be able to control your television and appliances with a Smart Glass device.
Scott Milam, a longtime Vancouver businessman and civic activist, became so excited about the possibilities of Google Glass that in 2012 he joined software developer Ryan Fink, another longtime Vancouver resident, in launching On theGo Platforms. They set up shop in Portland’s Pearl District, recognizing that a Portland address is a plus to attract talent and investors, but they hope to bring the company to Vancouver later in its evolution.
On theGo is racing to the starting line, hoping that its motion-driven software will be incorporated into Google Glass and other Glass technology when the products hit the consumer market, which is expected to happen this fall. The company recently secured $717,123 in seed funding for product development.
This week the company is releasing a beta version of the software to software developers and manufacturers for testing and refinement, and it’s launching a website to promote the product. Its aim it to win a place on software platforms that will be offered on Google Glass and similar products.
Milam expects that Google Glass products could hit the market with a price tag of about $600. At that point, we’ll all be part of a rush of people marveling at technology’s latest leap and trying to imagine without success how profoundly if will change our lives.
I think back on my first realization that we’d all someday have computers on our desk at home and that this thing called the Internet would bring the world into our homes in an entirely new way. Email, at first magical, has become indispensable to most of us. Smartphones and iPads have transformed our commerce and personal relationships, destroying some jobs and creating new ones. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can be both frivolous and revolutionary: witness Turkey’s ban on social media last week as part of a government crackdown.
It’s not possible to predict how Google Glass and the technologies it spawns will change our lives and our world. The technology will let us see the present world right in front of our eyes, but the future will remain beyond our line of vision.