Love it or hate it – there’s no doubting modern technology is having a big impact on cycling.
The next big thing is wearable technology. In that particular category, it is Google Glass that is turning the most heads.
What is Google Glass?
The video above of Sergei Brin offers perhaps the most enticing explanation.
It’s a little like a weird, futuristic pair of glasses that you’ll be able to speak commands to and see the results in the corner of the glasses. For example, you can take a picture or record video, see your text messages or follow directions.
It all might see a little futuristic for now, but its probably the kind of technology we’ll all be walking around with in the next two to three years.
Love it: Google Glass + Cycling
How could you use Google Glass for cycling?
- Live maps – We’ve already gone from ordnance survey maps to iPhone maps, but with Google Glass we could see the map in front of our very eyes. That’s got to be a good thing in a busy city like London where everyone is (seemingly) always in a rush
- No need for a Go Pro camera on top of your helmet. With Google Glass you’ll simply be able to say ‘Glass, record’, and the glasses will start filming. This could be really helpful if you have any confrontations with drivers, or want to report bad driving etc. The same goes for taking pictures.
- Easily accessible maintenance apps like Bike Doctor – it’s easy enough getting your phone out to follow instructions for some roadside maintenance, but it could soon be even easier.
- Bike stats. You could find yourself literally staring down your personal best for a particular stretch of road.
For me, when I’m on my bike is when I do a lot of my thinking – I think about the novel I’m writing, the shopping I need to do or my plans for the evening. Theoretically, with Google Glass I can research aspects of my novel, do my shopping and find a pub to meet friends at. Although, not if I when I’m in need of my full concentration in traffic.
Google Glass isn’t the only option. Other manufacturers such as Recon Jet have products that are appealing for cyclists. In their demo they show a speedometer along with the position of your fellow cyclists in a race.
Hate it: Technology gone too far..
There are of course downsides, though many of these will simply be a case of getting used to new technology.
Probably the most obvious negative at this early stage is the fact that they are bound to impact on concentration levels. When you’re riding along, and concentrating on the map in front of you that tells you when exactly you need to turn left, will your brain be able to cope, simultaneously, with the fact that there’s a cyclist approaching on your inside, or that a motorbike is zooming past you at a worryingly close distance?
It would seem that there isn’t going to be much that Google Glass can’t do – and their sophistication is clear when you see that Google has had to ban developers from integrating facial recognition into their apps, because of the obvious security concerns.
Despite my excitement, it’s clear there is some concern and pessimism amongst other cyclists. When we tweeted about Google Glass recently, typical responses were along the lines of:
“They look fun – but why would I need them?”
And that to me is a typical response ahead of technology that is new, and we will need to adapt to. Smartphones, tablets, Kindles… all technology that at one time didn’t exist, and there were many cynics wondering what the point was. Now they’re all engrained in our daily lives. Personally, I’m really excited about the prospect of Google Glass and think on the whole the technology will have a huge benefit on day-to-day cycling.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.