If you have a TV, computer, or smart phone, chances are that you have been exposed to Google+ Hangouts in some way or another. Perhaps it was a heart-tugging commercial about a single father sharing memories with his daughter while she was at college. Maybe it was one of President Obama’s “Fireside Chats”.
Digital “Hangouts” are going to become more commonplace as technology advances to further integrate social impulses with practicality.
In order to understand what is possible in the future for Hangouts, it’s best we address how they are used presently.
New Opportunities for Business and Pleasure
Some of my most memorable experiences on Google+ have actually been in Hangouts. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy the conversation Google+ has to offer, but it has been Hangouts that has put me in situations that I would have considered otherwise unattainable. For example, my good friend Jesse Wojdylo has shared the Hangout screen with Tiger Woods.
Two months into the year I have spoken with X Games athletes, gold medal winning olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, and participated in an interview with Macklemore. I was also invited to attend a Hangout with some of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, but was stuck in traffic at the time. #ifihadglass, right?!
Needless to say, those are some pretty big names for a young marketer like myself.
We also have merged Google+ Hangouts directly into our weekly business meetings. Since we can open Google Drive documents within the Hangout itself, sharing, editing and managing a meeting agenda is a cinche. The mobile options that are offered presently allow us to connect when we’re on various business trips, even if it is just so your business partner can show you his view of the beach.
The New Connections of Mobile and Social
Right now, you can Hangout from many types of devices. A smart phone, for instance, can let you video chat with anyone. I still remember the first Hangout I had with my mother. “Oh! I can see you!” she said, and flashed that knowing smile that only mothers can give their sons. She still is completely incompetent at texting, but it’s a start.
Mobility is still somewhat limited though, especially with the phone company’s constricting grasp on data. Enter Google’s Project Glass. WiFi and tethering.
Speaking of Glass, I just overheard some strangers in the coffee shop bring them up. Being able to “watch DVD’s while you drive” was the topic of conversation. It seems some of the trendy coffeeshop bloggers have their priorities a little mixed up.
Innovations like Glass could revolutionize how we interact. Yes, people are concerned about privacy or turning into cyborgs (both reasonable!), and those problems will be addressed as technology continues to advance. What Glass primarily allows us to do is share our life. Instantly.
Imagine if one of the X Games athletes had a Glass-like device on his goggles. You would get a live, first-person view of the tricks he is doing. Something similar could be implemented for a football quarterback. “Helmet Cam” could be the next big thing.
For the general public, the first-person view would change “Facetime” to “Lifetime”. (I never watch that channel, honest)
Hangouts Crossing the Language Barrier
Personally, I don’t know why Google hasn’t implemented this into their Hangouts yet.
We were teased recently by Microsoft’s real-time language translation capabilities, and people have been trying to find ways to integrate Google Translate with Google Hangouts. I could not help but think about Google+ Hangouts while watching this film. In fact, this is what inspired this article in the first place.
I believe very strongly that Google intends to integrate Google Translate into Hangouts. By now we’ve seen plenty of evidence that Google+ is not the next “Wave” or “Buzz”, and we’ve seen other Google services be folded into the Google+. When Google decides to make this move, it’s going to change the game.
Google Hangouts will no longer be some “video chat” service to the general public. It will be the means of connecting to people around the world. If you thought that social networks or the internet brought the world closer together, that feeling doesn’t even come close to the potential that Google has with Hangouts.
For me, it’s not a matter of how or why, but when.