Have you ever had a great idea? An idea that you knew in your heart of hearts would change the way people interacted, thought, and did? Well I have, and more often than not that idea has been shot down like a souring duck flying off into clouds.
Its a dim thing to see something conceptually breathtaking take such fatal criticism. That is Google Glass…. Well, that’s many conceptual technologies, but that’s chiefly Google Glass right now. There is no question that the idea of wearing a computer on your face like glasses, the lenses being your display, is a technological feat and great step in the right direction. Perhaps the technological excitement about it is inhibiting its public appeal. And your response to that is, “What? That’s absorb! That’s such a contradictory statement.” Well… its not, and here’s why.
Design is everything. Apple, America’s most successful company, let alone, tech company, I would say is more of a design company than a tech company. Its founder, Steve Jobs, obsessed about process and timing as it related to the design of Apple’s next product. Many might think that Apple literally invented the tablet, computer, mp3 player, and smarpthones, but its not true (perhaps the personal computer, but definitely not the computer in general). However, their delivery of technologies is so compelling and convincing that one might be led to believe that Apple is the ultimate inventor. For Steve Jobs, it was never as much about getting the latest and greatest computer science laboratory innovations out and into the public. He was keen on going forward with a product when he felt that society as a whole was ‘ready’ for it- as cliché as that may sound. But as cliché as that may sound, its important, very important. Timing is everything, and for Google, time seems to be a notion of limitation and technological stalemate. Google (specifically their founders who have an extensive tech background) is too technologically enthusiastic for its own good.
It deeply hurts me to say it, but Google glasses are not ready for the public. I was about to say people are not ready for Google Glasses, but that would be a false statement, because Google Glasses are technically not a purchasable product at this time. And perhaps my point can be shot down completely for the simple fact that Google Glass is really just a prototype. However, because of that, Glass is under constant refinement, I assume, by Google. And at this point, they are most certainty not ready for society, not from a technological stand point, but from a design standpoint. They are science fictionally attractive and generally UGLY.
I’ve fought hard for my previous stance. Perhaps my enthusiasm about Glass’s technological capabilities blinded me from seeing it from a regular consumer’s perspective, but I initially was quite attracted to Glass- excuse my word choice. I admired its slim compact rectangular shape. I thought that lack of a emphasized the nugget of geometric glass over the right eye and its importance in the system as a whole. It looked to me that Google had portrayed a quite unique yet subtle interpretations of a sci-fi future, and I liked that. However, my roommate and best friend convinced me otherwise. I realized that I was literally convincing myself into appreciating Glass’s design for the simple fact that I admired its functionality. That’s fair, from a tech-boy’s consumer prospective, but for Google, this is a reaction they should be trying to avoid like the black plague. Its all about design, especially for a device that is new to society.
Why are Google Glasses not Glasses? One can make the argument that Glasses are an arbitrary form of accessory that can be defined by any form of glass laying somewhere around your eyes held up by an extension over your ear/s. But perhaps Google Glasses are more Google Monocles than Glasses… With the assumption that Google would like to resume their marketing of Google Glasses as ‘Glasses’, Google should be focusing their efforts more on closing the design gap between Google Glasses and Glasses. The success of Google Glasses, augmented reality glasses, or any wearable technology from here on out will lean more on how accurately the design mimics that of an everyday wearable accessory than on how technologically advanced it claims to be, because at the end of the day, few people walk out of an accessories store with something they don’t like.
Google’s window of opportunity is wide open. They are blessed to be in a situation where they are one of the only major company pursuing augmented reality glasses full force, and I can’t say I have more confidence in their competitors to beat them to the chase. If my name was Sergey Brin, I would have stayed away from over-publicizing Glass until the day of its public announcement. I believe in the ‘wow factor’ when it comes down to the initial success of a product. That wow factor definitely dwindles down months after people are introduced to your revolutionary concept. However, it seems to be the nature of Google that they involve the public in their engineering process in a relatively collative manner. It sort-of seems as if Google is telling the people, “We know this idea is cool, but we really don’t know where to go with it from here. Help us figure this thing out so that we can change the world again!” And I cant say that is an ineffective strategy until day one or month one of sales. Nevertheless, there is no question that Google has a great prototype in their hands as well as a real chance to change the way we interact with the world around if they find a more familiar design for the people.