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?