Sometimes there's more to a new innovation than meets the eye. Google Glass is the latest bit of see-it-to-believe-it commercialized “wow” to show up in exhibit halls. The technology itself has been around for quite some time, but now it's being touted as an interface for accessing controls data, viewing an instructional demo video on resetting a valve, or asking the opinion of a colleague in another country about whether to use pneumatics, hydraulics or servos on a motion application.
We assume we know what Google Glass will enable us to do, but we won't really know for sure until we start using the tool and figure out its potential applications. I can almost guarantee that, in three years, it will be used to complete tasks no one has even considered at this point. The future's so bright, I gotta' wear Google Glass.
The Internet of Things will enable access to an inordinate amount of data. How much? I recently attended a conference where one company rightfully boasted of the terabytes of data that it will be capable of managing in one application. And, on first blush, that sounds impressive. But think of how quickly we've moved from kilobytes to megabytes to gigabytes and now to terabytes. It won't be long before we look back fondly on the quaint past when you might purchase an exabyte of storage to keep your hourly reports secure.
Google already processes more than 20 petabytes of data on a daily basis. That's a quadrillion bytes of data per day. And that's just what Google processes. By latest count, the commercial Internet carries almost 2,000 petabytes of data each day. Just wait until we have an Internet of Things.
Michael Ziesemer, COO of Endress+Hauser, once told me that Google understands the Internet, but Google doesn't understand things. I'm not sure how much longer that assessment will remain accurate, if it even still does at this point. The online search engine company—does anyone even think of them this way any more?—makes continued forays into hardware with its visual interface and its self-driving car, not to mention its acquisition of Nest, the maker of smart thermostats and smoke alarms.
For Google, the hardware is simply a means for interfacing with the data. And we all know that Google knows data. Rather, Google knows what to do with data. It knows how to access it, how to index it and how to make just the right data available at the exact moment you need it.
Remember when you thought it was creepy for Google to be able to autofill your search request? Now you use it as a tool to find things you didn't know you were looking for. So many of the brilliant things we have, from Teflon and vulcanized rubber to Coca-Cola and potato chips, were the result of a discovery that people decided to use differently.
Google Glass will most likely take the same path. Put on a pair, and see what you think.