Google Glass and the Glass Collective

I am tickled pink to announce Andreessen Horowitz’s participation in a new project called the Glass Collective.

Along with our friends at Google Ventures and our old partners in crime at Kleiner Perkins, we are working with Google to encourage a new generation of startup entrepreneurs to build applications for Google’s new breakthrough Glass platform.

First, Google Glass itself: Glass is a new wearable computing product and platform being developed by Google.

The thesis of Glass is profoundly transformational — to integrate connectivity and information directly into your field of vision and into your normal daily life. Instead of having a phone in your pocket or a tablet in your briefcase, why not have the Internet in your field of vision when you want it — and why not feed the Internet with live video and audio that matches what you see and hear at any time.

This provocative idea has already inspired a huge explosion of speculation and debate in the technology industry. In situations like this, I always look to history for analogies to try to understand how people are going to come to grips with new technology. One obvious historical analogy is the web browser, which is 20 years old this year — both the browser and Google Glass are windows into the Internet that everyone will be able to use.

But I’d rather reference another transformational technology that is also 20 years old this year. At the same time we were introducing the browser in 1993, Steven Spielberg released his magnum opus, the film Jurassic Park. For those of us who had worked in 3D computer graphics in the years prior, Jurassic Park was a stupendous breakthrough —  the dream of computer graphics truly come to life in a stunningly visceral and emotionally overwhelming way.

In a newly published oral history of Jurassic Park, Spielberg and his producing partner Kathleen Kennedy tell this delightful story:

KENNEDY: I remember getting the phone call where Dennis [their animation genius] said, “I think I have something you and Steven should take a look at.” We saw this wire-frame model of a dinosaur running across the screen, and it caused five or six of us to literally leap to our feet –because it was so extraordinary and –significantly beyond anything we had seen in [animation] up to that point.

SPIELBERG: The last time my jaw dropped like that was when George Lucas showed me the shot of the Imperial cruiser [in Star Wars]. I showed it to [stop-motion effects legend] Ray Harryhausen. He was absolutely enthralled and very –positive about the paradigm changing. He looked at the test and said, “Well, that’s the future.”

When it comes to Google Glass in the context of the Internet, I’m like Ray Harryhausen: Well, that’s the future.

Now, of course, a lot of work remains to be done between today and the full realization of the Glass vision. The exciting part about today’s announcement of the Glass Collective is that just like with the Internet and smartphones, a huge amount of that work will be done by third-party developers, who are going to have in Glass a brand new platform and springboard for creativity to play with. All of us involved in the Glass Collective are absolutely certain that developers are going to create thousands of ways for millions of people to use Glass and improve their lives and the world around them.

And so with the Glass Collective, we are open for business (glasscollective@a16z.com) to seed fund startups to build the first generation of amazing Glass applications.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your compilers.

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