Google is continuing its big, slow and eternal roll-out promotion for its Google Glass product, and had yet another big event this week. The short version is that Google Glass is a pair of glasses that allow users to take hands-free videos and pictures, as well as check the weather, get driving directions, do searches and such.
I think there is a use for Google Glass, though it's probably more limited than the company is counting on, based on all the time and attention they're giving it. It seems great for active-sports use, or if you're a parent with little kids at a party. But for general acceptance, there are issues. For starters, one of the things about high tech catching on is that it's supposed to be "cool," and the latest adopters are the Cool Ones. This usually starts with kids, though not always (particularly if something is expensive, like Google Glass is right now -- $1,500). But wearing Google Glass makes you look like a total geek, which is the pure opposite of cool. Worse, it makes you look like a Star Trek cyborg. I'm not being metaphoric. I mean, literally.
In fairness, these look a little better with the sunglass versions I've seen, since they cover a lot, though they're not too valuable at night. And I'm not sure how this all works with people who already wear prescription glasses.
A lot of the videos that Google has put out for the product show a ton of hang gliding -- the very first roll out of Google Glass, in fact, was a live parachute jump onto a rooftop that lead to a bike race through the halls of the skyscraper to the ballroom where the project leader was presenting his demonstration on a big screen. And that always does look amazing. But I have to assume this is a really small demographic compared to general use.
There also are other hands-free sport videocams already in the marketplace, for a whole lot less money, though more bulky. To be sure, Google Glass also offers some Internet capabilities, but it seems like checking the weather or driving directions are a deeply-deeply secondary need for people in their glasses.
And is the public ready to have people walking around with headgear that is very possibly videotaping your conversation with them or the actions of strangers without you knowing? At some point, possibly. But right now? It seems a bit creepy.
I do mean it when I say there are very definite uses right now for Google Glass. And sometimes products have to hit the market many years before the world is ready for them. (It happened with tablets.) But until we reach the future where most people are wearing cyber-glasses and accessing all their inter-connected cloud-needs, it seems like Google should have their sights set lower than general mass acceptance.
All this is said without actually using a pair and seeing what they can do in real world conditions. But sometimes, perceptions have a way of being valid.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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