Will Google Glass Create an Omni-Web?

February 7, 2013
Google Glass

Google Glass (Photo credit: jurvetson)

How extensive and invasive will Google’s Glass strategy be?  Will it create an Omni-Web?  My crystal ball on Google’s long game strategy for future Social, Local and Mobile (SoLoMo) solutions and offerings is unlike others I have seen written.

First, it would be helpful to define what I mean by future SoLoMo solutions and offerings. My last of four posts, How SoloMo Companies May Help You and the World Interact, listed a number of companies utilizing a variety of methods to identify and track people, places, and things in the physical world in order to personalize user experiences by learning more about out the preferences, locations and habits of our daily lives. Others have called this nearing SoLoMo transformation by a number of titles:

  • M2M – Machine to Machine
  • M2M2M – Machine to Machine to Man
  • The Internet of Things
  • Smart Services
  • The Contextual Web
  • The Sentient World
  • The Ambient Web

I provided several use cases showing how preference, presence and habit data can in turn be used / monetized by automating actions for us in our environment, and better personalizing content and advertising.

The various methods and technology being pursued by today’s enabling companies were highlighted in this “Hotel California” series of posts. Among these were:

Optical Recognition (Facial and Object), Hidden Cameras and Microphones, Gaze Tracking, Gesture Recognition, GPS and A-GPS, NFC, Bluetooth, Audio Frequency ID, Check-ins using QR codes, AR, Patches adhered to the skin, Opt-In Requests for Information protected by ToS, Platform Marketing, Tagging and Sharing of Photos, Business Intelligence and Data Mining.

Of these company categories, use cases, methods and applied technology, my take from publicly available information is that Google appears to be following the superior method of optical recognition.  With optical recognition, you need only one point of reference to capture the data presently missing; an always-on camera that scans the environment around a user.

As I see it, there are 2 fundamental enabling elements for Google to succeed as described in the excerpt I have appended below. These are:

1)   The Google Glass Project

2)   Software enablement through patented facial and object recognition, and augmented reality linked to profiles and databases.

Below is an excerpt from my last post as to how I see Google competing in the future, but first watch Google’s video on Google Glass.  Key points on how I think Google will compete are not mentioned in the video.  These key points are inferred from recent acquisitions, regulatory inquiries, patents and trademarks, and those of major competitors.

I hope that this short post encourages you to read the full series of four blog posts, started late last year, on the Hotel California scenario for the SoLoMo future.


Disclaimer: In keeping with the stated intent of this Blog, many of the strategies and goals deliberated are based on the author’s Points of View and NOT on disclosure of any corporate strategies, goals, or other information such as technology partnerships or go to market partnering.  They should be considered OPINIONS.

Google –

At the top of my list, Google has been preparing their long game to win the SoLoMo opportunity for some time. To reiterate, I have no inside insight and can only speculate on Google’s strategy given their public moves. In my opinion, there are two new foundational elements to their SoLoMo strategy.

The key element is their Google Glass initiative. This week, for the first time, outside developers are invited to code for Glass. Apparently emergence of a Glasses competitor, the VuZix M100 (also Android-based), got Google to launch. I like to say that Google Glass is appropriately named because you can look through glass from both sides, but it is more than that. Yes, we’ve all seen the videos and it promises to enable you to learn and do incredible new things as you look out from the glasses.  I have previously noted the emergence of facial recognition. It won’t be long until you realize that not wearing them makes you relatively ignorant, and will put you at a disadvantage. Secondly, most people agree that it will allow Google to learn even more about you and add to your profile, habits and preferences as you live your life.

That’s expected, right?

However, there is a possible third point I have not seen discussed in any media, but is an opinion of mine. I believe Google will also leverage Google Glass wearers as a point of reference or vantage point from which to scan the environment around us all, and catalogue the world with its camera in an up to date, searchable, marketable manner. So, rather than assume the time and expense of populating cameras on every street corner in the world, theoretically, Google can have consumers pay (by buying the Glasses) to turn us all into photojournalistic honeybees travelling from point to point picking up the data nectar that Google can then sell back to us through offerings and advertising.

Think of the opportunity of having Billions of users walking, running, skating, biking, skiing and driving around like drones capturing information that Google can use to create revenue.  I can be in Queens, and depending on terms of service, see what you last saw on 5th Avenue or beyond – hey there’s a sale at Macy’s. Moreover, if Glasses are truly “always on” (your head), given the algorithm happy legacy of Googlers, it stands to reason that Google will find a way to benefit from enhancing their indoor navigation capabilities as new marketing opportunities.

As one example, I can virtually walk around that Macy’s using a recent user generated video, jumping from department to department. As my gaze is tracked, the video shifts to that angle, focus on that merchandise, and offer relative content via AR. It bears watching how Google Glass will authenticate payment transactions, perhaps by a combination of voiceprint and password, or selecting a predefined image. There are practical hurdles for re-using appropriate videos such as video curation, image stabilization, and splicing.  Once the cameras are populated, these become secondary smaller problems to overcome.  Imagine the benefit to firefighters and law enforcement who can view video of each location as they travel to the scene.

Beyond data delivery to the user happening through your smartphone, data capture capabilities make Google Glasses paramount in the delivery of a connected world. Yes, you can look through glass from both sides, but you can also have an extra pair of eyes looking out – Google’s eyes. Ironically, the term being “google-eyed” existed long before the company’s googol mathematical reference became its brand.  (You can’t make this stuff up.) As a marketer, if I were Google, I would plan a way to control this term in a positive way before others potentially exploit it negatively. According to the USPTO website, last month they received a trademark on “Google Mirror”, which might possibly be how they place a friendly patina on marketing this capability. As mentioned earlier, this is all speculation on my part.

This brings up the second, complementary element to Google Glass which is their recently won patent for identifying objects in videos.  It can detect a man from a pole from a car from a motorcycle. Combined with its recently bought Ukranian firm Viewdle, Google now possesses a trifecta of object recognition, facial recognition and augmented reality. This should complete what would be necessary to identify and make searchable and describable everything and everyone, anywhere at any time, in a user-friendly way, maintained up to date.

In a future post, I will offer ideas as to how marketers can use the treasure trove of information that Glasses wearers will discover and be “sharing” about the people, objects, and places around them. Here’s an example. Imagine Lowes offers you a number of entirely new living rooms for you to choose from by using videos of your living room streamed from a Glasses wearing houseguest.  They replace the room’s actual elements with proposed new wall colors, pictures, drapes, furniture, carpeting and lighting based on your income, location, and preferences.  Seeing how an entire room in your house can be transformed before your eyes has much more impact than imagining a different wall color or couch. It takes the interior designer out of your home and places them in the app. The supply chain impact for this new form of marketing extends back from the free app to Lowes to the contractors, trucking, to manufacturing and raw materials. Any office building, corporate apartment, hotel, resort, nursing home, etc., can be marketed to in this powerful new way.

If past is prelude, Google will open source certain information to app developers, and sell access to customers based on their searches, preferences and lengthy Terms of Service agreements that relatively few consumers read. If this is indeed their strategy, it is critical that Google dominate the Glasses market early on.  All of this assumes no black swan event from practical use, such as:

  • a clinical discovery that having messaging frequencies so close to your head for extended periods is detrimental to your health
  • eye strain and headache issues
  • a well-publicized rash of violent thefts of people’s Glasses
  • overly distracted folks walking into traffic or crashing while driving
  • software bugs and component/product issues
  • an outcry from privacy advocates, or
  • poor marketing (the most controllable piece)

The Blackberry 10 was announced two days ago. When I see Blackberry pursue the Smartphone market it has already lost by re-branding and incrementally improving competitive product performance, it reminds me of Wayne Gretzky’s key to success: you should be skating to where the puck is going to be, not where it is now.  The future is integrating the world around us, and Smartphones will be just one element.


See my full four post series on the Hotel California future on this Blog for more detail. Comments and ideas, sharing and tweeting are welcome.

One response to Will Google Glass Create an Omni-Web?


    Insightful obsv’s…I have to wonder at what point do we cross the line from ‘living’ in a randomly generated interactive world…to something pre-planned, pre-organized and identifiable exclusively…by people walking around all of the time talking to themselves.