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Google's Project Glass Eyewear: Next Big Google Flop or Hit?

Google dazzles our imagination with its augmented reality glasses, but could the Internet behemoth have a diamond or a dud on its hands?

Project Glass is Google's dream to mass produce hybrid glasses that act as a miniaturized smartphone wired with hands-free access to a micro display, cameras, microphone, Web browser, and speech recognition. It's the type of jaw dropping innovation the tech elite love.

But are a pair of Google augmented reality glasses practical? Some argue "yes" and others "no". Think texting and driving don't mix now, how about drivers sporting Google glasses video chatting with a friend? Then again, a pair of Google glasses could make you the "smartest" guy in the room - as long as there is a Web connection.

Here are two opposing viewpoints on Google's Project Glass eyewear. PCWorld contributor Howard Baldwin argues the pro side of the argument while PCWorld contributor Ed Oswald represents the naysayers.

PRO - People have been trying to build wearable computers for years. Project Glass puts the technology into something people already wear.

CON - Easily breakable? While I understand Google’s desire to make these glasses as unobtrusive as possible, they look awfully fragile. Consumers will use these in situations where they may be dropped or come loose. These are no doubt going to be expensive, so people will want some assurance that these won’t easily break.

PRO - Who doesn’t love hands-free computing? Maybe these will help us bypass those nanny-state laws and let us talk while we’re driving again.

CON - Using the glasses must more distracting/obnoxious to fool with than texting currently is. Google glasses places the data in front of your line of sight so that you probably will focus on the data rather than what’s around you. This could be more distracting than texting or using your cell phone while driving.

PRO - Glasses will no longer be cause for derision. Instead, they’ll be as fashionable as iPod earbuds. Dorothy Parker’s adage about men seldom making passes at girls who wear glasses will finally be proven wrong.

CON - What about the millions of bespectacled people? According to Vision Council of America about 75 percent of the U.S. adult population wear some type eyeglasses. Unless Google's glasses correct vision or act as sunglasses for many it will be a hard sell.

PRO - You'll stand out. Now that computers will be on your head instead of in your pocket or purse, you can identify other technophiles more readily on the street (although like the distinctive white iPod earbuds when they first came out, you might be a more visible target for being mugged for your tech).

CON - Where’s the battery? Google’s prototype design begs the question as to where the battery may be located. As my colleague Megan Geuss pointed out last year, smartphone batteries suck. Will Google glasses require us to wear some kind of battery pack or will your smart glasses run out of juice every three hours?

PRO - Mobile anytime "knowledge" will be breakthrough technology for handicapped people of all types, especially for intellectually and physically challenged. This technology could also revolutionize knowledge, manufacturing, and service industries allowing for fast access to needed data, maps, and schematics.

CON - Potential privacy issues. As we wear these glasses around town, the search giant might be able to gather even more data on our daily lives. The video clearly shows deep integration to Google services: you are encouraged to share with the search giant. You think Google’s ads are too personal now? Imagine those ads after wearing Google glasses!

For more information on Google's Project Glass visit the Google+ home of the endeavor where you can find images, videos, and project specifics.

For more tech news and commentary, follow Ed Oswald on Twitter at @edoswald, on Facebook, or on Google+.

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