Mapping software – at least the type produced by eSpatial is about accessing data quickly. It unites key decision-making information with strong visualization.
Will the widespread adoption of Google Glass, which effectively provides the hardware to access data, result in a perfect marriage of mapping software and portable gadget?
It’s here at last
After months of speculation, Google Glass, in its Explorer Edition form (a kind of paid-for prototype) saw the light of day this month. You can find out what CNET reviewers think of the product here. Based on their report, all I can say is that, currently, Google Glass is far from being a powerful business tool. Its main strengths are it portability and ease of use. But you could say that about a smartphone too.
And, as you can see in the picture, it doesn’t really look all that pretty. Especially given that it carries a hefty price-tag of $1500. Not that you could rush out to your nearest Best Buy and purchase it anyway – its sale is restricted to a limited number of users.
The future of mapping software
That said, wearable portable media is likely to be the future – not least because it has the backing of all-conquering Google, so it’s worth taking a little time out to consider how it might impact on mapping and data visualization.
Here’s my thoughts:
1. You will have the potential to see a lot more than you see on a smartphone, tablet device – or even the biggest computer monitor you can imagine. If Google Glass ultimately fulfills its potential, then you should be able to zoom out and see a map that’s as big as a wall – or even bigger. It will be the equivalent of opening up a printed map, spreading it out on a table and then leaning into it with a magnifying glass!
2. Inevitably, hand movements will control the Google Glass functionality (remember Tom Cruise in Minority Report shuffling holographic screens by just the movement of his hands?). Hand and body movement control has already been tried and tested – in the XBox, for instance. This will create an even more interactive mapping environment. You will be able to compare and contrast mapped data by just the flick of a hand.
3. You can already blend demographic-rich datasets for new insights with eSpatial. In the future, you will be able to add 3-D (potentially real-time) environmental data. Think Google Street meets CCTV meets rich data-visualization. So, if you’re building a supermarket, you will be able to observe – at the planning stage – the environmental factors that may have an influence on your targeted market. For instance, viewing a rival store nearby, you may discover certain window displays attract the most attention. That data may influence the design and layout of your supermarket.
4. The last word on portability? Quite possibly – at least until we start embedding electronic devices into the human body. If the three previously-mentioned features are realized, the keyboard and touchscreen will go the way of the pencil and ruler, as mapping data is created and shared faster than ever before.
The marriage of eSpatial mapping software and Google Glass could ultimately end up being a marriage made in data heaven – but that may still be a couple of years off. So, for that reason alone, hold off from spending that $1500!