Google Glass, for those of you who don’t already know, is a mobile device worn like sunglasses that projects information on a small, transparent screen located in one’s peripheral field of vision. When paired with a smartphone via BlueTooth, Glass is capable of displaying a variety of information without the user ever taking the phone out of their purse or pocket. The device also has voice recognition and ear buds for a complete audio/visual experience. Lightweight and flexible, Google Glass is like having a tiny but powerful smartphone strapped to your head. I recommend taking a quick video tour of Google Glass (GG) to see how it works.
There are five ways Google Glass will transform the tourism industry.
One: Everything you (or your developer) knows about User Interface (UI) design will need to be re-thought, perhaps radically, to accommodate Google Glass’ smaller screen and voice recognition. By smaller, I mean a lot smaller, say 1/4 the size of a an iPhone5 screen. You will not be able to view most websites on the GG screen, even if they are responsively designed. Even most smartphone apps are too busy for the GG screen ~ screen clutter must go! Visual content (text, graphics, videos, maps etc) will need to be pared down to the barest essentials. There is also no keyboard on Google Glass and never will be ~ all app commands come via voice. I take some smug satisfaction in this development, as I said in an earlier post that voice reco was both the past and future of the man-machine interface. Many young, thumb typing speed demons, who learned their skills on video game consoles, disagreed with me at the time, but they will have to find something else to do with their hands now.
Two: GG will accelerate Google’s role as the Gorilla in the $10 B tourism industry (and it’s due to their massive content and computing power). In the computing world, we refer to apps and the devices they run on as “clients.” Thin clients rely on some other computer to do part of the work; fat clients do more of the computing work themselves. Google Glass is an ultra-thin client relying almost entirely on powerful computers and content found at (where else?) ~ Google! Google Earth. Google Maps. Google Art Project (photos of museum pieces). Google Street Maps. Google Business Photos (virtual tours of the inside of your hotel or restaurant). All these will be readily available to GG through the fat, very fat, supercomputers located within the Google empire. “Oh, they wouldn’t just waltz in to my business, museum, or piazza with those fancy 3D cameras and take pictures, and then post them on the Internet.” Wouldn’t they? They may already have. What you need to do is ensure your content, the story you have to tell, gets picked up, stays fresh, and goes along for the wild ride.
Three: Ad supported monetization strategies will not fly. Remember ~ this thing is strapped to your head. Your eyes and ears are captive. I’ll speak for myself ~ I do not want advertisements that close to my brain. It’s bad enough they put ads over the urinals. GG tourism apps will succeed by virtue of the extent to which they enhance the user’s experience and by that virtue alone.
Four: GG will disrupt the teletmatics business just as it was getting started. Telematics are mobile computers installed in your car. Car manufacturers, fearful of lawsuits from users who might wreck the car while using them, and fearful of seceding app control to non-car companies like Apple, have very carefully and slowly moved forward, keeping most app developers at arm’s length. 2013 was supposed to be their year, when they were going to allow your app, designed and built for iOS or Android, to collaborate with their telematics units, as long as the UI (and therefore their risk of lawsuit) was carefully controlled. But ooops! Too slow. GG are designed to enhance and not distract the user from his or her primary activity, like skiing or driving. Time will tell if this is the case, but both the car manufacturers and the lawmakers are once again caught flatfooted, or as we say here in America, “a day late and a dollar short.”
Five: Content is King. The King is Dead. Long Live the King. It has long been said that content is king, and I agree in general, but only content that is device agnostic. That means your content…your stories, your tours, your insight, wit and charm…must play well on any device, regardless of type or manufacturer. Yesterday it was the desktop web. Today it is the mobile web, or the native app. Soon it will be Google Glass. One day they will pour a mobile device with an eyedropper in one ear, where it will settle into one of our teeth. Whatever. The point is, make sure your tourism content has the quality and format to travel well, from one device type to the next, so you can make money when future tourists are visiting your sites with, well, their tooth phone.