How Google Glasses Will Redefine the Retail Experience
Google's Project Glass, a wearable computer that provides an augmented reality experience, has created a buzz about how its futuristic capabilities will transform daily experiences. Among these, Google is changing the way consumers interact with retailers, bringing a new wave of mobile devices to the commercial space.
What's most intriguing about Google Glasses is that Google is using its significant presence in the market to influence a broad shift in the way we think about mobility. Although the idea of wearable computers or displays has been around for years — even decades — we may be entering a "perfect storm" that makes these products not only possible, but successful.
Google Glasses are a natural progression in mobility and the embodiment of ideas posited over a long history of both science and science fiction. Bradley Rhodes at the MIT Media Center compiled the history of wearable computers into a brief timeline that progresses from the earliest recorded mention of eyeglasses.
Wearable computers from several decades ago, like Reflection Technology's Private Eye in the late 1980s, were designed similarly to Google Glasses. But now mobile ubiquity, cloud computing and progressive advances in miniaturizing necessary components will allow Google to develop solutions usable by the general, if potentially geeky, population.
What this means for retailers is that location-based and augmented reality (AR) programs will become more important. Forget QR codes; think AR tags on products optimized for Google Glasses and assisted wayfinding within stores. Geofencing of stores, product information and promotional offers will become more necessary, and the need to personalize that information based on the user and associated conditions will become not only more important, but more possible.
Retailers also need to be cognizant of the fact that devices like Google Glasses will change the way we interact with television and advertising. The rapid rise of users leveraging smartphones and tablets while watching TV has shown that "viewers" are doing more than just viewing. That shift in behavior will evolve to more seamless integration between the user and broadcast content. I envision a not-so-distant future with personalized AR product placement in televised material — and that's just the start.