It seems as if Google Glass has travelled quite a long way along its hype cycle even though it has yet to be launched as a finished product. The product was shown initially at the I/O conference in June 2012 and the first beta products (knows as the Explorer Edition) were made available to a select group of evangelists who paid $1,500 for the privilege in April 2013. Since then they have made all sorts outings on various conference stages around the world, been photographed in the New York subway and even been photographed in the shower (see photo of Robert Scoble).There have been endless reviews from the “explorers” such as this or this.
On the whole the tenor has been – revolutionary product, will take some getting used to but generally positive. Lately, though the tone has changed. Gizmodo calls out Google for getting defensive but not answering the real issues. And Mashable weighed in with its prediction that Android smart watches (specifically the Moto 360) will render Glass obsolete:Why the Moto 360 Smartwatch will Kill Google Glass.
I think this new-found pessimism is wrong on a number of counts. It is easier to see how a smart watch would be used – we already have watches and if it gives us a bit of what our phones give us we can get our heads round that.
But that is to miss the basic point. We are all now inseparable from the web. We use the internet as external memory and our smart phones are our current access point. But they are far from perfect – staring at your phone screen distracts from the task in hand and acts as a barrier to the real world. Smart watches will be better, but only just.
The real end-game is seamless access to the web directly overlaid on the world. Google Glass is the closest thing we have to that right now.
Sure, Glass is flawed (poor battery life, limited applications etc etc) and certainly it will take us a while to work out the correct etiquette around it.
But the Glass paradigm is a powerful one which is qualitatively different to all that has gone before it. And Moore’s law should take care of the shortcomings.
This summary from Wired is a pretty good round up of both the good and the bad. The conclusion is, I think, right on the money:
You can make fun of Glass, and the assholes (like me) who wear it. But here’s what I know: The future is on its way, and it is going to be on your face. We need to think about it and be ready for it in a way we weren’t with smartphones. Because while you (and I) may make fun of glassholes today, come tomorrow we’re all going to be right there with them, or at least very close by. Wearables are where we’re going. Let’s be ready.