TED2013

Sergey Brin: Why Google Glass?

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It's not a demo, more of a philosophical argument: Why did Sergey Brin and his team at Google want to build an eye-mounted camera/computer, codenamed Glass? Onstage at TED2013, Brin calls for a new way of seeing our relationship with our mobile computers -- not hunched over a screen but meeting the world heads-up.

- Google Co-founder
Sergey Brin is half of the team that founded Google. Now he's leading the development of special projects like Google Glass. Full bio

Okay, it's great to be back at TED.
00:12
Why don't I just start by firing away with the video?
00:14
(Music)
00:17
(Video) Man: Okay, Glass, record a video.
00:22
Woman: This is it. We're on in two minutes.
00:27
Man 2: Okay Glass, hang out with The Flying Club.
00:31
Man 3: Google "photos of tiger heads." Hmm.
00:35
Man 4: You ready? You ready? (Barking)
00:39
Woman 2: Right there. Okay, Glass, take a picture.
00:42
(Child shouting)
00:48
Man 5: Go!
00:58
Man 6: Holy [beep]! That is awesome.
01:03
Child: Whoa! Look at that snake!
01:06
Woman 3: Okay, Glass, record a video!
01:09
Man 7: After this bridge, first exit.
01:18
Man 8: Okay, A12, right there!
01:45
(Applause)
01:48
(Children singing)
01:52
Man 9: Google, say "delicious" in Thai.
01:58
Google Glass: อร่อยMan 9: Mmm, อร่อย.
02:02
Woman 4: Google "jellyfish."
02:05
(Music)
02:09
Man 10: It's beautiful.
02:20
(Applause)
02:23
Sergey Brin: Oh, sorry, I just got this message from a Nigerian prince.
02:31
He needs help getting 10 million dollars.
02:37
I like to pay attention to these
02:41
because that's how we originally funded the company,
02:43
and it's gone pretty well.
02:45
Though in all seriousness,
02:49
this position that you just saw me in,
02:51
looking down at my phone,
02:54
that's one of the reasons behind this project, Project Glass.
02:57
Because we ultimately questioned
03:01
whether this is the ultimate future
03:04
of how you want to connect to other people in your life,
03:06
how you want to connect to information.
03:09
Should it be by just walking around looking down?
03:11
But that was the vision behind Glass,
03:15
and that's why we've created this form factor.
03:18
Okay. And I don't want to go through all the things it does and whatnot,
03:27
but I want to tell you a little bit more
03:33
about the motivation behind what led to it.
03:35
In addition to potentially socially isolating yourself
03:38
when you're out and about looking at your phone,
03:43
it's kind of, is this what you're meant to do with your body?
03:45
You're standing around there
03:50
and you're just rubbing
03:52
this featureless piece of glass.
03:53
You're just kind of moving around.
03:55
So when we developed Glass, we thought really about,
03:58
can we make something that frees your hands?
04:01
You saw all of the things people are doing
04:04
in the video back there.
04:06
They were all wearing Glass,
04:07
and that's how we got that footage.
04:08
And also you want something that frees your eyes.
04:11
That's why we put the display up high,
04:15
out of your line of sight,
04:17
so it wouldn't be where you're looking
04:19
and it wouldn't be where you're making
04:21
eye contact with people.
04:23
And also we wanted to free up the ears,
04:25
so the sound actually goes through,
04:28
conducts straight to the bones in your cranium,
04:32
which is a little bit freaky at first, but you get used to it.
04:35
And ironically, if you want to hear it better,
04:39
you actually just cover your ear,
04:41
which is kind of surprising, but that's how it works.
04:44
My vision when we started Google 15 years ago
04:49
was that eventually you wouldn't
04:52
have to have a search query at all.
04:53
You'd just have information come to you as you needed it.
04:57
And this is now, 15 years later,
05:00
sort of the first form factor
05:02
that I think can deliver that vision
05:05
when you're out and about on the street
05:06
talking to people and so forth.
05:08
This project has lasted now, been just over two years.
05:12
We've learned an amazing amount.
05:15
It's been really important to make it comfortable.
05:18
So our first prototypes we built were huge.
05:21
It was like cell phones strapped to your head.
05:25
It was very heavy, pretty uncomfortable.
05:27
We had to keep it secret from our industrial designer
05:30
until she actually accepted the job,
05:33
and then she almost ran away screaming.
05:35
But we've come a long way.
05:39
And the other really unexpected surprise was the camera.
05:41
Our original prototypes didn't have cameras at all,
05:44
but it's been really magical to be able to capture moments
05:47
spent with my family, my kids.
05:50
I just never would have dug out a camera
05:52
or a phone or something else to take that moment.
05:55
And lastly I've realized, in experimenting with this device,
05:58
that I also kind of have a nervous tic.
06:03
The cell phone is -- yeah, you have to look down on it and all that,
06:07
but it's also kind of a nervous habit.
06:11
Like if I smoked, I'd probably just smoke instead.
06:13
I would just light up a cigarette. It would look cooler.
06:16
You know, I'd be like --
06:19
But in this case, you know, I whip this out
06:22
and I sit there and look as if I have something
06:24
very important to do or attend to.
06:26
But it really opened my eyes to how much of my life
06:29
I spent just secluding away,
06:32
be it email or social posts or whatnot,
06:37
even though it wasn't really --
06:40
there's nothing really that important or that pressing.
06:41
And with this, I know I will get certain messages
06:44
if I really need them,
06:47
but I don't have to be checking them all the time.
06:48
Yeah, I've really enjoyed actually exploring the world more,
06:53
doing more of the crazy things like you saw in the video.
06:56
Thank you all very much.
07:00
(Applause)
07:02
Translated by Joseph Geni
Reviewed by Morton Bast

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About the Speaker:

Sergey Brin - Google Co-founder
Sergey Brin is half of the team that founded Google. Now he's leading the development of special projects like Google Glass.

Why you should listen

Sergey Brin and Larry Page met in grad school at Stanford in the mid-'90s, and in 1996 started working on a search technology based around a new idea: that relevant results come from context. Their technology analyzed the number of times a given website was linked to by other sites — assuming that the more links, the more relevant the site — and ranked sites accordingly. Despite being a late entrant to the search game, it now rules the web.

Brin and Page's innovation-friendly office culture has spun out lucrative new products including AdSense/AdWords, Google News, Google Maps, Google Earth, and Gmail, as well as the Android mobile operating system. Now, led by Brin, Google is pursuing problems beyond the page, like the driverless car and the digital eyewear known as Google Glass .

More profile about the speaker
Sergey Brin | Speaker | TED.com