As tweeted yesterday, we had the chance to try on the Google Glass and take it for a test drive. The lightweight eyewear-like device promises a hands-free way to connect as you would with your tablet or mobile phone. With a quick verbal command or swipe you can take pictures, access the Internet, and record video, among other things. The question isn’t whether it’s useful. We’ve gotten to the point where having this kind of digital access has become a necessity. The question is whether we need — or want — it in this form.
Google Glass doesn’t have lenses, but it does have the top of a frame with arms like a pair of traditional eyeglasses, and a nose clamp to keep it in place. In the upper right-hand corner is your “screen,” which displays the commands you can give to the device.
For women (and men who care), there’s an issue of fashion. The Google Glass becomes an accessory that’s worn prominently on your face. And while there is a sci-fi cool factor to it, it doesn’t necessarily go with everything in your closet. I saw a woman wearing them at a Whole Foods not too long ago, and my first thought was how it didn’t fit in with the preppy sweater set and flats that she was wearing. Though there’s an argument to be made that the utility of the device outweighs the look if you’re really into it. Below is a video that Diane von Furstenberg’s DVF made using Google Glass.
The biggest issue is adoption. To use it, you have to grow accustomed to having this screen in your peripheral vision. We’ve grown accustomed to splitting our attention between what’s in front of us, what’s happening around us, and what’s going on in our palms on our mobile device screens. Having something in front of me that I couldn’t easily turn away from was much different. The device goes to sleep, so there’s nothing to look at when you’re not using it. But when it’s there, it’s consuming in a new way.
Ultimately it boils down to what you’re used to and whether the benefits are worth the changes you’ll have to make to incorporate a new device into your life. Not too long ago we complained of being “always on” because of our cell phones. Now we can’t imagine living without them for a moment. When tablets were introduced, the first thought was how big they are. We already have a mobile and an e-reader, so why do we need a tablet? And is it too clumsy to use all the time? Now, having one seems completely logical. If you’ve ever had to carry a purse, groceries, a baby, and a phone at the same time, you can appreciate that Google Glass will free you up to manage it all.
The one thing about Google Glass that makes it different from the other devices we’re already familiar with is the intimacy of it. We may personalize these other devices with unique cases, our choice of apps, and home screen pictures of our friends and family, but the Google Glass is directly on your face. It’s more a part of your person than these other gadgets are. It becomes the image you present to the world. It impacts the way you see the world. Using it is a more all-encompassing experience.
We still have some time before Google Glass will be available to all of us (2014 looks to be the goal), so it’s something to think about in the meantime. Is this the kind of technology that you would be interested in?