Is Google Glass The Demise Of Our Collective Attention Span?

I love gadgets, but I don’t see myself liking Google Glass.

Last week I was having a meeting at a coffee shop in Palo Alto and I finally witnessed my first Google Glass “in the wild.” I’ve watched the videos and seen all the footage hyping this new entrant into the early adopter tech world, but I had yet to see one walking around in real life.  While I think the concept of wearable computing is unavoidable and in many cases very cool, I just don’t see myself liking the idea of Google Glass -- at least not in its current iteration.

First off, I have glasses and I only wear them a couple of times per week. I could see a future where the visualizations of Google Glass are built into standard glasses rather than the Star Trek-esque format they currently take on, but that’s a long time and a dramatic decrease in price away. Regardless of that iteration, I can’t see it making me want to wear my glasses with more frequency.

Secondly, the number of updates and interruptions I get from data streaming to my phone already annoys me.  At least with my phone I can set it aside or leave it in another room.  At the very least I can leave it in my pocket and ignore it.  If the updates are literally dropped into my field of vision, I’d find it more difficult to ignore. I love being connected, but I require downtime  -- and Google Glass would appear to make it more difficult to create downtime than would ever outweigh its value-add.



Don’t get me wrong – I am 100% positive that Google Glass will succeed.  Wearable computing is the next big thing as we evolve into the “Internet of things.”  Each of these devices becomes a signal by which we can monitor and manage our lives using a digital lifestyle dashboard.  Personally I love FitBit and Nike Fuel Band, but these are less invasive and more user-initiated. 

I love devices that push signals to my phone and how the phone becomes the central point of my digital lifestyle because I can choose to engage or not.   I want my refrigerator to do the same.  I just want the continued freedom to choose when I accept these updates and interruptions .

 I know it’s possible, if not likely, that Google Glass could become an amazing vehicle for advertising.  I can foresee location-based ads triggered by viewing specific billboards, buildings or cars.  These would be great opportunities for corporations to integrate their message into the real-world experiences of consumers, but I feel the distraction would be too much.  It’s already difficult to enjoy the moment with our minds being hyper-distracted by digital media interruptions.   As a consumer, how much further am I prepared to go?  What’s the reciprocal benefit to me for the sacrifice of what remains of my attention and focus?

If I give it 10 years, or maybe even five, things will certainly change.  As guidelines for these kinds of devices emerge and we establish a “bill of rights” that dictates the amount and frequency of interruptions  consumers will be forced to tolerate, I reserve the right to change my mind, but for now my opinion stands. 

Wearable computing is here and I am onboard, but I don’t see myself jumping on the Google Glass bandwagon in the next few years.

What about you?

5 comments about "Is Google Glass The Demise Of Our Collective Attention Span?".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, June 5, 2013 at 12:49 p.m.

    Tomi has an excellent post about why location-based marketing is dumb. But I think everyone misses the point, including your specific billboards, buildings or cars example. Location-based should not depend on where you *are*, because that limits the audience too much, but on what's fairly nearby that you could take advantage of with a little effort. The information "cards" that Google sends you on Android are a baby step in the right direction.

  2. Mike Patterson from WIP, Inc., June 5, 2013 at 12:50 p.m.

    Cory, I think you are contradicting yourself here. Are you saying you see yourself getting on the train eventually but not now? Is it something about Google in particular or is it the idea of the glasses in particular that you don't like about "wearable computing"?

    So watches and other accessories may work for you but not glasses?

    I caught one example in the wild myself and it looked like the person was staring off into space somewhere between the heavens and earth.

    I'm not a fan, even though I think the technology could help my business. We all need to be more present and have clear lines between "on" and "off".

  3. Kate Berg from Collective Bias, June 5, 2013 at 12:51 p.m.

    From what I've read and seen, you will be in control of the data you receive via this technology --sort of Siri like, so to think of using GG the way things work now with alerts to your phone is an inaccurate picture of things. If I'm wrong, someone chime in.

  4. Jonathan McEwan from MediaPost, June 5, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.

    I, too, wear glasses and verily this I say. Take them off, rub a little relief into the bridge of your nose and set them down. I'm also certain there will be a mute button of some sort. I'm sure you can turn off notifications. If not in Glass v1.0, certainly by v1.2. That's one of the first things any one of us would request. A little peace, a little down time.

  5. Bill Binan from Salesguy , June 5, 2013 at 4:01 p.m.

    Google Glass just makes you look silly. Now, Dick Tracey watch form...that's wearable computing that will take off much faster.

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