Let’s be clear that Glass is an amazing technological accomplishment. The tiny screen delivers pretty cool HD quality, and the pictures and videos Glass records are of decent quality. But after that the whole experience falls flat.
I think the main problem is simply that there is very little utility or need for Glass. I cannot imagine one moment in the last month when I had wished that I had Glass on my nose. Directions? My car’s built-in system does that already for me. And if I am walking, Glass is useless, since I have an iPhone and Glass does not want to play with the Apple ecosystem (for now).
We obviously did a lot of cooking over the holidays, and there is a Glass recipe app. But if you don’t constantly interact with Glass, it shuts itself down to preserve its battery.
Google search? It seems that every search answer is a Wikipedia page, and though it is interesting to learn more about CNN or BBC as a company, I wanted their website, not their history. Email and social media updates are combined in a confusing stream of stuff that is awkward to interact with.
Just to ensure that I am not an old fuddy-duddy who is simply out of touch with what Glass could do for my digital life, I used the Christmas break to let my family try Glass. The test panel consisted of an assortment of family members ranging in age from 6 to 86. Each person “played” with Glass a little, but no one felt compelled to use it any longer than three to five minutes. The one exception was my 11-year-old nephew, who used it for an hour -- by which time he had exhausted the battery.
The main complaints I heard were:
- Where are the games? (all the under-15-year-olds)
- Where is YouTube? (my 12-year-old son, an aspiring movie-maker)
- Where are the social media sites? (Google Plus is obviously fully integrated, but where is Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.?)
- Why does it not answer like SIRI? (all the under-15-year-olds)
- Oh crap, how do I go back again? (everybody)
- No, that’s not what I wanted… (everybody)
At less than 10% of the price of Glass, I also own a FitBit (the old one that you stick in your pocket, or clip on your clothes). This little genie, coupled with the FitBit Aria scales, has done me more good than Glass has been able to deliver. I know my weight, I know if have been active, I know how many calories I have burned, etc.
Glass, on the other hand, has not affected life in any other way than creating novelty. And now that we have admired the technological marvel that it is, Google needs to show us why we need it in 2014.
I am sure there is a future for this technology. One day it will be embedded in your car’s front window (that self-driving car, of course). Doctors will use it on their rounds.
Rack-jobbers will use it to manage shelves in the supermarket. You might use it when visiting exhibitions in museums.
Until Google does figure out its real utility, Glass is a very expensive gimmick that will get you plenty of attention but very limited benefit.