The future’s so bright you may have to wear shades — not to shield the eyes, but to help you recognize people and places.
Tech gurus, including Nick Bilton of the New York Times, speculate that Google will release smart eyeglasses by year’s end. These specs would record information for the wearer in real time, share it via a 3G or 4G connection with Google’s servers, and overlay useful data on a small screen a few inches from the user’s eyes.
If the smart-glasses wearer stood alongside a busy urban street, for instance, this screen might indicate nearby restaurants and shopping centers. The glasses could help the wearer navigate to a particular destination or find the nearest copy of the local newspaper. (Marketing possibilities are limitless.)
Time Magazine speculates that future versions of these new Google goggles — and you’ve gotta love that people are already hypothesizing about later iterations before the first version has been confirmed — might recognize faces. So that all-too-common panic you feel when a person whose name you should know but don’t approaches at a cocktail party or in the grocery store may soon be extinct.
While some privacy advocates may be concerned about security implications (what if somebody is wearing smart glasses in the restroom and sees me with my fly down?), you know the general public will take to them like mosquitoes to sweat. We love new gadgets, and with a potential price tag between $250 and $600, they’d cost no more than most phones.
If such glasses are really coming, and if a future version provides facial-recognition help, I’ll be the first in line.
Remembering names is one of my weaknesses. I meet hundreds of new students every year, and I struggle with their names the same way poor Sisyphus pushes that boulder up a hill. Students start the year sitting in strict alphabetical order to help me assimilate names more quickly, but long after other teachers have them pegged cold, I’m still sneaking surreptitious peaks at my seating chart to remember who is who.
I use all the standard mnemonic tricks, such as rhyme (Fred, redhead), association (Mary sits on my left, married people have wedding rings on their left hands; therefore, that’s Mary), acronyms (Row 1: Marcus, Adam, Yale, Dale, Alyce, Yates — the first letters of their names spell “mayday”) and visualization (placing a mental picture of each student along a hypothetical driving route). All of these help, at least until I change the seating chart or see students at the mall, where suddenly Mary is on my right or Adam is walking beside Fred from another class, in which case my entire schema crumbles and I stand there with mouth agape, making sophisticated comments like, “Hey, you’re that kid from fifth period!”
What’s weird is that I remember conversations with students, particular papers that they’ve written and even where they sat in class for years, but their names disappear over a three-day weekend. Meanwhile, on those rare occasions when I am “in the zone,” I can recall dozens of people with no problem whatsoever, only to turn a corner — literally or figuratively — and have it all pop like a soap bubble. I’m tempted to blame age, except this has been going on for decades.
Nor is my name forgetfulness confined to students. I have a tough time with adults,as well, maybe as part of a low-grade social phobia. I attended a recent social event (something I avoid whenever possible) and was relieved when the first object I was handed was a name tag. Instantly, my high anxiety was downgraded to generalized angst, which is a place I’m at so frequently that I’ve been named mayor.
If I’m being totally honest here, I may be afraid of forgetting names more often than I actually forget them. Fear of forgetting — or being forgotten — is athazagoraphobia, which is a word that virtually begs to be forgotten.
Regardless, my problem could be solved with a pair of these wicked, hypothetical, future specs, just as a smart phone’s GPS feature has solved directional impairment for many people. I want to see little Johnny’s name materialize on a screen next to my eye, even as a tiny angelic choir celebrates my relief with a spirited rendition of Hallelujah in my hippocampus.
Now if Google can just develop a pair of glasses to make me invisible, I’d say the future was bright, indeed.