Google Now and Project Glass - a creepy match made in heaven?
Google's new tablet stole the show at its I/O conference last week, but it isn't the firm's only offering. It also released Google Now, a digital assistant that mirrors much of what Apple has accomplished with Siri. But Google's software goes further.
Siri is a reactive program, which responds to your commands by interacting with the other software on the iPhone. You can ask it to book an appointment, for example (e.g. "Schedule lunch at 1pm with Bob tomorrow"), and it will use natural language recognition to put something in your calendar.
Google now goes further, by using a combination of your search history, calendar, and other online resources to make educated guesses about what you might want. Thanks to Google's mapping, it could understand your route into work each morning. It will know where your next appointment is, and will tell you how to get there, and when you should start your journey.
Google can use what it knows about you to make suggestions on the fly about your daily life. If, for example, your flight is delayed, it might offer you a new route to drive there, based on what the traffic is doing, or tell you that you can fit in that 30-minute call with Jane after all. The point is that Google Now brings the information to you, without you having to ask for it.
Google Now has a lot of synergy with Project Glass, which Google also demonstrated at the show. That nascent project, which puts Google directly into your vision using a headset, will know what you're doing all day. Not much is known about the project yet, but we fully expect video analysis (so that it can understand what you're looking at and tell you about it, and potentially even know who you're with), and interactive messaging using a heads-up display. The company wants to ship Glass in 2014, and the technology is likely to look far different than it does now, but it's coming.
The endgame to all this is an assistant that will be in your field of vision all day, understand what you're doing, and how you will be affected by what's happening around you, and further afield. As a technology that combines location, time, and search history, Google Now is a prime candidate for this virtual assistant technology.
But this becomes increasingly creepy. Google knows far too much about most of us already. I suspect that the firm has the ability to make far more inferences about us than it does using its publicly-visible services. Will we really want it watching our every move - and gently suggesting our next move for us?
Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets