Guest contribution by Stephan C. Baldwin, Founder of

The author’s views below are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SearchDecoder.

Enhancing peripheral – not forward vision – should be Google’s priority

yellow cab ny view

Google Glass is a monocular forward-looking HUD (Heads Up Display) that superimposes text info onto the field of vision the person wearing it – the same field that one is already looking at.

OK, that’s great. But what would be far more useful for most people – especially city people like me — would be a device that lets you look BEHIND your head, into that big 180 degree blind spot that pilots call “your six.” This – not your forward looking areas – is where you’re most vulnerable, especially if you’re wearing headphones.

Imagine a set of wrap-around glasses with rear-firing cameras that could expand your peripheral vision behind your head and display this info on the edge of your visual display.

I would buy that one in an instant.

Why? Because such a device could prevent you from getting “whacked upside the head,” which happened to me a lot in my younger days. I happened to grow up in SOHO and Little Italy when they were still bad neighborhoods. Long before artists and Eurotrash colonized the place, violent gangs ran through the streets preying on passersby.

Twice I was hit hard in the back of the head – without warning, by these guys with silent shoes who got behind me without me knowing about it. If I’d had expanded peripheral vision I might have seen my attackers in time and escaped the concussions and beatings that followed.

bird 180 vision

The eyes of the monk parakeet/quaker parrot — a prey species — are located on the sides of the head, giving the bird almost unlimited peripheral vision. These parrots live all over Brooklyn. Photo credit: Juliet Hanlon of Vortex.

Is Google Glass view out of whack?

In the bird world, you can easily distinguish “birds of prey” from “prey birds” by looking at the patterns of their fields of vision. We humans happen to built like predators: our eyes are in front of our heads, and we have the great stereo vision required for hunting and expertly manipulating complex objects. “Prey birds” (like parrots, pigeons, and sparrows) have side-mounted eyes that give them a much better chance of detecting attacks.


A redesigned, wrap-around Google Glass could provide humanity with the 360-view capabilities of a Monk Parakeet while preserving our traditional Eagle/predator view-forward orientation.

The most elegant way to design a true look-around-the-head (LATH) system would be to use a wrap-around sunglasses design. This kind of eyewear is also FAR COOLER LOOKING than the dorky unbalanced monocular thing that is now Google Glass (remember that guy in Star Trek/Next Generation?). Are you listening, Diane Fursternberg?

The branding campaign for a true look around/look behind version of Google Glass would interweave paranoia, vigilance, and the fun of evading predators in a “real life” urban game of cat and mouse.

“Wow, I just got away from those bad guys” says the sweaty young hipster to his hipster mate after pushing open his Brooklyn apartment door.

“I don’t want to say it,” she chirps back.


“Google Glass saved your ass.”

“Again,” he admits.

They smile, kiss, and the door closes. Finally, the tagline:


This post appeared originally on Stephan’s Linkedin profile.

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1 reply
  1. Ryan Biddulph
    Ryan Biddulph says:

    Hi Matt and Stephan,

    Interesting indeed. I like the bird predator/prey analogy. Predator birds have eyes located on the front end, to zero in on prey. I’m seeing a Fijian Goshawk outside of our window now looking down and around, scanning the grounds for pretty tropical songbirds, its main diet.

    The prey need that full range of vision, and heck, it’d make sense if Glass adopted this same concept.

    On a side note – and not because of this post because you were fair, and it was fun – I’ve personally never seen a product based like Google Glass. Again, you’re not bashing; just adding a suggestion. But so many folks genuinely despite Glass and the Glass-holes that they say don the specs, not quite sure why there’s such a huge, negative backlash.

    I get the privacy issues but it seems like so much of the hate is entirely unwarranted. Interesting.

    Thanks for the share Stephan.

    I’ll tweet it in a bit.



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