Just a few months ago, the world learned of Google Glass, a revolutionary way to see your world, digitally. Then a few weeks ago, at the Google I/O conference, people saw Google’s new glasses product worn by skydivers as they plummeted towards the Moscone Center in San Francisco, broadcasting live what they were seeing to conference attendees.
Now, the imagineers at Google are hard at work applying this technology to video games. In a landmark deal, signed on Monday, Google has partnered with PlayStation to develop the first wearable, interactive gaming platform that doesn’t make you look like Robocop.
The deal, which is projected to earn Google just enough money to cover the lawsuits filed by wearers bumping into things, is generating speculation across both the tech and gaming industries.
“We’re not trying to stop you from bumping into things,” said John Cooke, head of the Google Glass team. “We want to get our technology to the point where you don’t even care. That’s how good it is.”
Combining PlayStation’s knack for creating addictive games with Google’s refined geo-targeting and limitless server capacity, gamers will never have to leave the game world, even if they physically leave their living room.
“Gamers don’t like change,” said PlayStation CEO Jack Tretton. “Whether they’re changing locations or changing clothes. That’s why we’re excited about this deal. It’s a chance for gamers to feel like they never need to change. Ever. Don’t change.”
Social games are bringing members of the technocratic elite closer together than ever before. In the past, Google has made various attempts at breaking into the digital gaming world, including Lively, Google’s answer to the Sims, which would have been an embarrassing failure, had anyone ever heard of it.
However, with Glasses, Google is making a hardware play that may give them a real shot at securing a name for themselves in gaming. Their strategy this time: integrate with Google+, which PlayStation hopes will bring a social component to virtual reality gaming, most likely because they haven’t read any press about Google+ user numbers.
“It’s a depressing sight,” said Cooke, “to see children at the dinner table, with their heads down, glued to their games. With Glass, we’ll be able to see their eyes…glaze over as they respond to text messages with a flick of their pupils. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Despite the great things Glass could do to enhance our social connectivity, some worry that they would be disorienting and confusing. Research at University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) has pointed to “distracting technology” as the leading cause of injury in recent years.
“I wouldn’t call it ‘disorienting’ or ‘confusing,’” said Cooke. “Instead, we use words like ‘immersive’ and ‘augmented reality.’ People love it when we say that.”
But according to UNTHSC’s research, texting fatalities numbered over 16,000 in the past 6 years — although the university has since redacted those numbers, claiming they were from all the way back in 2007 when people were just much stupider about technology.
“Look, nothing is going to stop anyone from using this new technology,” said professor Eli Jennings, leader of the UNTHSC’s study. “Even when, statistically speaking, you’re more likely to die as a result of playing Angry Birds than from getting cancer. Some technology is an unstoppable machine. Especially when it facilitates frivolous entertainment.”
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