Google Glass Makes Us Look Ridiculous

A model poses with Google Glass

A model poses with Google Glass

I don’t mean in a fashion sense (someone else made that argument well). I mean it makes the tech industry look ridiculous. It makes us look like we’re out of touch with what real people need.

In this real world, filled with starving infants, poverty-stricken families, rampant curable diseases, chronic homelessness, corrupt politics, a poisoned environment, you-name-it… this is the only tech innovation we could come up with in the last three years (since the iPad)? Google Glass is a device you wear so that you don’t have to look down at your smartphone in your hand. And oh yes, you can take pictures and videos in the blink of an eye.

So I guess it’s more important to us — more important than solving any of the real world’s problems — that we shouldn’t have to pull a smartphone out of our pockets when we want to search or communicate.

And we think that wearing these things will make us more social, or more polite, because the wearer doesn’t need to look away from a person to use Google, or get directions, or do other tasks. But I think that most of us will approach Google Glass wearers with suspicion. Are they recording everything? Snapping candid shots of me without my knowing it? Fact is, wearing the glasses is a dead giveaway that you’re more interested in your messages or searches, or in taking pictures, than in interacting with other live humans. I think it would be awkward in the middle of a conversation to say, “Excuse me” and roll your eyes up to see your Google Glass display. It may be more polite to say, “Excuse me” and step aside to check your smartphone.

The point is, are we really so obsessed with gadgets that we think this is “the future”? How much money was spent on this idea? It’s embarrassing to think that the entire tech industry is so enamored with this.

I got excited about personal computers, workstations, multimedia, the Internet, web services, smartphones, and tablets. Each invention was a powerful tool to increase and enhance communication and expression, solve significant problems, and work on social and political causes.

I can see Google Glass being useful for some applications. Maybe a surgeon could wear it and view X-rays while performing surgery. There are some powerful applications for hands-free tablet viewing and interaction. There are powerful uses for voice-command technology, Google Glass-like displays (perhaps in cars), and continuous photography and videography. But these are not everyday uses for everyday people.

While I agree that wearable smart digital devices can be popular and useful (I still wear an iPod nano when exercising), they also have to be stylish and convenient. Google Glass is more in line with Borg fashion (that is, the Borg of Star Trek fame). I would be more inclined to try a smart watch, first envisioned in Dick Tracy comics by Chester Gould in 1946.

The actual Google Glass prototype all the pundits are wearing is not really ready for prime time. Too bad they had to pay $1500 for it. My guess is, that’s why the prototype wearers are so enthusiastic. Who would want to admit that they blew $1500? Besides, until the tech industry invents something truly powerful and useful, there’s not much for a technical journalist to write about.



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