When Google released their all new concept video for augmented reality glasses on April 4th, it caused a stir in the tech world and, of course, the effect was seen all over social media. The now infamous “Google Glasses” were developed by the Google X research group, who coded the trendy invention under the title “Project Glass”, providing the world with a glimpse of what possibilities technology may have to offer in the near future, including augmented reality.
According to the MacMillan Dictionary, augmented reality is the technology of combining real world images, video, etc. with computer-generated information and/or imagery. In case of the “Google Glasses”, it means that by using a display on the glasses’ frame in connection with wireless internet, voice recognition, a camera and/or other components, it will be possible to see overlaying interactive graphics on top of the real world to assist the wearer in its actions throughout the day e.g. by navigating, finding information and/or communicating with friends.
“We think technology should work for you—to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t,” the Google X research group explains. “[We] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment.”
In this week’s Buzz-Report, we decided to take a closer look at the discussions surrounding “Project Glass”, on various social media channels within the Middle East. With a total of 6379 captured results, the research was conducted between the 1st and 9th of April 2012, of which English made up the majority share of volume (54%).
After the release of the concept video on the 4th of April, the discussion grew immediately within a matter of days; according to the News Media Index, this topic became the top story on blogs for the week of April 2-6 and the No. 2 story on Twitter.
To gain insights on the reactions to ‘Project Glass’, we delved deeper with focus on the UAE market, in order to provide an example of the user reactions within the Middle East. The captured results were mainly from Twitter, and showed a mixed sentiment towards the new augmented reality glasses and various subtopics:
Almost instantaneously after the video release, a vast majority of users in the social media milieu took to posting the video, as well as spreading general information about it in reference to news articles on social media – especially on Twitter or pinned it on Pinterest. The official Video alone was viewed in excess of over 11 million times and has almost 80 thousand likes on YouTube, all of which made up 55% of the total buzz and contained mainly a neutral or positive sentiment:
However, approximately two days after the release, the depiction of the ground breaking technology changed: there was a wave of parodist videos spilling over YouTube and followed through on Twitter, with a fourth of all captured posts (26%). These mock videos, which have up to 1.6 million views, broach the issues of the possible danger’s related to use of futuristic technology, with the likes of users of the ‘Google Glasses’ walking into street poles, as well as playing on the fact that Google ads will certainly bombard users on every possible occasion.
In addition, a significant amount of posts were posed to question the possibility of such a technical future, especially because some experts say that with the design shown in the video, the glasses would not be able to deliver the information as claimed in the video from Google. For example Blair MacIntyre, director of the Augmented Environments Lab at Georgia Tech, stated: ”In one simple fake video, Google has created a level of over-hype and over-expectation that their hardware cannot possibly live up to.” Several Arabic posts even suggested that this must merely be an April fool scam.
In reaction to this, a successive progression of articles and images were released, showing the co-founder of Google with the prototype of the glasses to confirm that the glasses were in fact real: “#Google’s #SergeyBrin sports #ProjectGlass in public, while others question whether the experience will really be…” – posts of this nature accounted for around 7% of captured data.
The Concept Video was compared to the future technology video done by Nokia in 2009, by 4% of tweeters within the UAE, who made statements such as: “I liked the #Google Glasses Video better in 2009 when #Nokia made it”. However, many users stood by the fact that this kind of technology is simply not to our benefit or not yet, at least.
At the end of the day, all we can do is wait and watch closely to see the progress of this invention and it’s usability, as it transcends and possibly affects the way we see the world, both literally and otherwise.
The Buzz Report monitors trends and themes that dominate current discussions on various Social Media platforms. This explicit search was conducted about the Project Glass from google, covering the Middle East with a special focus on user reactions from the UAE. The mentioned posts and comments were captured in both English and Arabic from the 1th of April 2012 until the 9nd of April. The keywords for the search were: “Google Glasses”, “Google Googles”, “Project Glass” in different spelling variations, combinations and hashtags in both Arabic and English.
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