Google Glasses: You've Got Responsive Design in Your Eye

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Happy New Year! 2013 is here and we can't help but keep thinking that we're really living in the world of tomorrow.

Image via Google

Think about it, science fiction is rapidly becoming fact as technology achieves what only writers could once dream. And you don't have to be a soothsayer, or a science-fiction author, to see that wearable devices will one day be an everyday reality for all of us.

We've all seen the nifty video that showcases the possibilities of their Project Glass. That video only gave us a taste of what could be achieved with a wearable heads-up display, and certainly was more wistful thinking than potential reality.

But what does this all mean for how we design products in the not-so distant future?

Your Eyes Will Do the Walking

Jonathan has previously pointed out that wearable devices, such as Google Glasses, are really extensions of self. That the devices will merely disappear as we have more integrated forms of interaction where content is paramount and data is ubiquitous.

That's something the Google Glasses design team is firmly working toward. Babak Parviz, head of the the project team, recently gave some hints on what's to come. Here's a few key points:

  • Augmented Reality: Isn't the immediate goal, but will eventually "come into the picture."
  • Interactions: Still working out how people will interact with the Glasses, from using a touch pad to voice commands. They've even experimented with head gestures.
  • Sharing: A main goal of the project is to allow people to share videos and pictures with one another, to share how they view the world through their eyes.
  • Apps: While the team is still figuring out the interactions on this new platform, there will be a cloud-based API for developers to integrate with the Glasses.

These tidbits all suggest that our eyes will very soon do the walking on the web, which creates some interesting design challenges. Let's take a look.

Content First

Our products will one day no longer be confined to a display screen. With a heads-up display, our products will be right in our user's eyes. That means we'll have to consider how best to present content on those devices.

Or as the Nieman Journalism Lab recently put it, we'll have to ask:

How does this look jammed right into a user's eyeball?

The lab may have been asking in terms of news organizations, but it's a question that all product designers will have to consider. We've already begun moving into a mobile-first design ethos, but will there come a day when we take an eyeball-first approach?

Voice or Gestures

Another consideration will be how we actually interact with devices without a touch pad. We're already aware that true hover states don't exist when it comes to mobile devices. We also have to take into consideration the size of touch targets when it comes to fingertip actions.

Now we're in the early stages of voice commands with things like Siri. Researchers are fast at work at the use of spacial gestures. With a wearable device, the day will come when our interactions won't be trapped in four corners.

How We Get There

While Google Glasses may have its own line of native apps, users still expect to have the same content parity across all devices. And whether it's on a smartphone, tablet, desktop or Chrome for Your Eyeball, users will still want the same functionality. Which responsive design does allow for.

In other words, responsive design is the first step to meeting the challenges that wearable devices present. We have a lot of work to do in the coming year. But tomorrow is no longer around the corner. It's here. And we may all soon have responsive design in our eyes.

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