In my circles, Google Glass gets a fair amount of attention. Geeks and nerds are debating on the long-term viability of Google’s augmented reality project. Between hearing about Google Glass constantly and having worked with an augmented reality startup a few years ago, I have developed some opinions. I am by no means an expert, but Google Glass is really interesting to me. But I’m not sure if Google Glass will be an iPhone like success for Google.
Wearable Computing Will Be Big
I am very bullish on wearable technology. I have owned a FitBit (RIP due to a washing machine mishap) and I currently sport a Jawbone Up. I think that the data available to us from wearable technology is going to be incredibly useful. Are there privacy issues? Yes, but according to Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends Report, Americans are 15th in the world when it comes to sharing information online. Meaning, we have room to grow with user adoption. When people become less private with their data, wearable technology like Google Glass has a huge opportunity.
Augmented Reality is Pretty Cool
Have you ever seen augmented reality in action? In person? It’s pretty freaking cool. The only problem is that most of the uses of augmented reality are still pretty novel. Once that novelty wears off (it will quickly) then what do you have? A floating solar system above a QR code.
But if Google Glass can create an ecosystem where we are surrounded by augmented reality, it would be awesome. Having the ability to look at a restaurant’s sign and see their specials pop up would be a really elementary, but useful way to use augmented reality.
Infrastructure and Education Needed
The key to my last paragraph was having an infrastructure/ecosystem ready for AR. Augmented reality needs a trigger to activate. Meaning, your device needs something to tell it that there is AR waiting to be activated. The startup I worked with used QR codes, because people knew QR codes would trigger some type of data.
This also ties in with education. People need to understand what triggers augmented reality. This education process might be the most difficult (I’m not sure how Google Glass is going to overcome this). It’s difficult because you have to balance design and utility. QR codes are ugly as shit. No one wants QR codes on their signage because it makes it look ugly. But there is no other universal symbol right now that makes people think they need to scan something for more info. So right now the options are an incredibility ugly that people know to use or have an aesthetically pleasing design that people don’t necessarily know triggers augmented reality.
Google Glass Is Fugly
This could be a very short-term problem, but right now Google Glass is ugly and intrusive. People pay thousands of dollars so they don’t ever have to wear glasses. Why would they want to wear these incredibility bulky things on their faces? Since Warby Parker is connected with Google Glass to design better looking Google Glass, there is hope. But take note, I have Warby Parker glasses. I think they look great. But…I hate wearing them. Simply because I hate wearing all glasses. So while I have them and think they look ok, I don’t want to wear them on my face fulltime. I imagine I’d feel the same about Google Glass.
Will Google Glass Be Dangerous?
I am worried about the safety issues with Google Glass. Especially because voice recognition is not where it needs to be yet. Siri is pretty, pretty good, but it’s not perfect. And this makes it a bit distracting and dangerous. Especially if people drive with Google Glass. As cool and useful as having an augmented reality GPS system in front of you while you drive, there would have to be safety precautions for driving. Having augmented reality pop out you and trying to make voice commands seems like it would be more distracting than talking on your cell phone while driving (which is illegal in CA).
Give Me a Mission Impossible 4 Lens
I am not totally against augmented reality. But I just hate wearing glasses. I really hate them. They’re just uncomfortable. I don’t love contact lenses, but I wear them. And I’m fine with them. Have you seen Mission Impossible 4? Do you recall the first chase scene in the movie? The secret agents have a special contact they pop in that allows them to see personal information via augmented reality. I could get on board with this. You still have the safety issues like you’d have with Google Glass, but you eliminate the need to have cumbersome hardware on your face.
I can’t imagine a world where Google Glass becomes ubiquitous as smartphones are today within the next 20 years. Maybe I’m being shortsighted by this and will look back at this post in amusement, but right now, I don’t see it happening for at least two decades. Where are the flying cars? Hovercrafts? We’ve had the same futuristic ideas for some time now, but nothing has happened on a mass scale. If Google Glass ever blows up, I think I’ll be at least fifty. What do you think? Am I an idiot?
I had the opportunity to try out Google Glass in real life at E3 the other week. Below is a photo. I very briefly got to try it out in a very loud and crowded event, but it didn’t “WOW” me like I anticipated. Aside from the fact it doesn’t fit my fat Asian head, it’s awkward. You have to look up, when I tapped the side control, it wasn’t always responsive. I didn’t get to test out the voice recognition, but the owner claimed it was actually pretty good. He said that it’s in the “Model T” phase [referring to today's cars] which is accurate. But put a gun to my head, I’m going to say wearable technology on the wrist will be bigger than wearables on our faces.