Will it ever end? First, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) decided to build its own servers. Then it decided to acquire Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI ) to create its own smart handsets and set-top boxes. Next up: glasses. Digital specs that layer digital information atop real images.
Think of it as Arnold Schwarzenegger's sunglasses-at-night-wearing Terminator meets Philip K. Dick's Minority Report. The virtual and real combined to create an altered state of reality broadcast through your Ray-Bans. Hipsters and nerds, rejoice!
Google's secretive Google X gadget lab is working on the design, according to a report in The New York Times. Investors should like the ambition. Not long ago, in a hat tip to the late Steve Jobs, CEO Larry Page said he'd focus dollars and time on putting "more wood behind fewer arrows." Wall Street liked the sentiment; it spoke of greater focus on successful products in pursuit of higher profits.
But as a rebel investor and the guy responsible for Google on the Motley Fool Rule Breakers scorecard, I mourned the loss of low-cost risk-taking that had made the Big G so great. Cheap experimentation helped create Google. Losing the crazy could lower the chances of stumbling upon another billion-dollar idea, I reasoned at the time.
These rumored "Google Goggles" prove that Page and Google haven't entirely abandoned crazy, and that's wonderful news. Generally. Yet far as the glasses themselves are concerned, here are four silly, exciting, and potentially dangerous uses for them:
- Personal radar. You know how some new cars have built-in radar that tells you when you're getting too close to an object? Your specs could do the same, warning you before you accidentally bump into the big guy at the bar, forcing him to spill his beer on his girlfriend and publicly pummel you in retribution. What? That's never happened to you?
- Concrete video games. When you carry the digital world with you, everything around you can become a video game. Imagine a partnership with NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) , which already specializes in technology for 3-D games and whose Tegra chips power some Android tablets.
- Eye-spy. Creeps might love these glasses more than most. Imagine a live-action "Hot or Not" app built into the frames, with your own voice-activated ratings broadcast live over the Internet. Humiliation delivered in real time. Fan-freaking-tastic.
- Watching you, watching me. There's an episode of the modern reimagining of Doctor Who in which the entire world wears EarPods that download everything the population needs to know. As you might imagine, it's not long after that things start to go horribly wrong. Et tu, Google?
Perhaps Google has a Big Idea on its hands here; I'm not yet sure. Nor do I think you need to imagine a crazy future to profit from innovation. The Motley Fool recently took a closer look at how several companies can profit from a more mobile future in a new report titled "The Next Trillion Dollar Revolution." The research is free, but only for a limited time. Get your copy now.