Picturephoning has a very brief entry about one of the new gizmos presented in Las Vegas, about which Martijn has already blogged. It’s a pair of glasses that enable you to watch a movie played on the iPod, cell phone or Zune projected inside the glasses.
Why do I find this interesting? First of all it’s another addition to the array of media to shield off private media consumption in public places. Just like the Walkman/iPod earbuds privatized personal music listening, these glasses may do something similar for watching video/TV. The same ol’ question arises again: what does this mean for publicness of places? I can also imagine the possibilities for musea and the tourism industry to use this device for visually augmented tours? Any examples yet?
Second, this device points to some media characteristics that are important to distinguish. This pair of glasses in its current state overlays physical reality with an added layer of information. Just like ‘passive’ navigation devices such as TomTom, it is augmenting space with an extra level of added information. It is not creating a truly hybrid space in the sense of – following Adriana De Souza e Silva’s writings – enabling social interaction in both physical and digital spaces at the same time, which are mutually influencing each other.
Yet what if new uses are created with such a device? What if video-calls (e.g. via Skype) are possible through these pair of glasses, calls that take place both in digital space and influence the physical space and vice versa? Or if you watch Youtube video’s on this thing and immediately comment on them via your cell phone? Then this device would enable the creation of hybrid spaces. So augmented space or hybrid space it is not inherent in the technologies but always defined by the social processes in which technologies are used.