I’m not a fan of smart goggles, the awkward device Google tried to pawn off on us a few years ago for a high price tag. Google Glass failed because it didn’t really offer that much functionality, and Google didn’t actually convince anyone it made sense to wear glasses.
And yet news about Amazon making smart goggles caught my attention, because — while I never warmed up to the idea — I can see the benefit for anyone who already wears glasses anyway. This time around I could see myself jumping on board, with one major caveat.
Here it is: I would wear the glasses if Alexa could be found everywhere in other gadgets — like my garage door; my car; the adjustable desk in front of me; the autonomous mower in my yard; the phone I use; and my entire house, including everything from the dishwasher to the TV. Then it would be super easy to talk to my smart glasses rather than to my phone. My guess is that Amazon has the same kind of vision.
I can see how this might work. Sans phone, I’d wake up in the morning, put on my glasses as normal, and talk to Alexa. I might ask her to make a quick cup of coffee and open the blinds. Then, I’d ask her to read the news. I mean, isn’t this really what we want — access to Alexa with no phone or speaker around? (Although Alexa would know to activate a speaker when possible.) A HUD would show me what’s happening, or maybe Alexa would talk to me through the goggles, though I could see that getting annoying.
For this to make sense, it would absolutely have to work…and work all day.
I’m most interested in being able to use the glasses while driving. I won’t name any names here, but I tested Google Glass in a car once and it was pretty amazing to be able to see my speed in real time. What else could Alexa do for me? How about warning me when she notices I am not stopping for a car up ahead, or giving me directions based on the fact that she knows my schedule and knows where I need to be. She could even make sure the lights are on at home when I’m done for the day.
The “everywhere” concept is something I’ve mentioned before. Prevalence is key for the future of all AI. (Just don’t get too prevalent and take over our lives). If Alexa is everywhere, I’ll be happy to wear smart glasses because the benefit will be amazing.
But here is where things get a little complex. In truth, I prefer to use the Google Assistant for many tasks, especially those related to questions. Google often knows the answer, which should not be that surprising given its history of finely tuned web search results. Wearing Alexa glasses makes perfect sense in a world dominated by Amazon, but the goggles would not be as helpful if I’m switching over to Siri or the Assistant (or Cortana).
Maybe the somewhat overlooked announcement about Amazon partnering with Microsoft for bot integrations — essentially, you can activate one bot using another — is a bigger step on the road to bot domination than we all think. Maybe Alexa everywhere will work by triggering other bots and connected services. Maybe one pair of glasses will rule the world.
This post by John Brandon originally appeared on VentureBeat.