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Articles

Why Glass?

DSC_0686.jpg
DSC_0686.jpg (Photo credit: kwmr)

Ever since I bought Google Glass, I’ve gotten a ton of questions from people. Some are fascinated by it, some see it as a frivolous expense, and others just think it’s the latest technology fad and not even worth the time of day. So I thought I’d take a few minutes to explain why I chose to make the investment.

It’s actually far simpler than you probably think. In fact, it all boils down to this… I think it’s the future of computing. It’s a rough draft, sure. It’s wonky and clearly a beta. But I vividly remember when the World Wide Web was a goofy little ‘beta’. I remember arguing whether we’d ever have enough bandwidth to be able to handle full color images in a timely way, much less 3D video streaming. I remember when the iPhone was an interesting device, but for almost a full year the only apps available were the ones that came pre-loaded onto it. People seem to forget that part. They also forget all the arguments and rationale people posted for why the iPad will be an epic failure and that nobody would ever need a device ‘between’ your phone and your computer.  For months after I got my first iPad, I had to field questions along hte lines of, “sure it’s cool, but why would anyone really need it?”

And now I hear the same things about Google Glass.  It’s too big.  It’s annoying.  Too expensive.  Too limited.  No apps.  It’s intrusive.  People will be too out of touch because of it.  And it goes on and on and on.

And yet, whenever I hand them over to someone and they start using it…  people tend it get strangely quiet.  And reflective.  When I talk about using the GPS on my bike, or recording video of the kids while we sled down the hill, lightbulbs start going on.  When I talk about the Strava app, and being able to see your pace and splits while you’re running, they start nodding their heads.  And when I break out things like Word Lens, well that’s an experience in itself.

The point being, all the doubters are right.  It IS a too big right now.  It IS expensive.  It IS limited in what it does.  And that’s all just fine with me.  Because it’s just a beginning.  It’s like the iPhonein 2007, with a few big exceptions.

For example, every month Google releases major upgrades for it.  There’s no waiting for the yearly releases, every single month there are new features released by Google.  Developers are just now starting to hit their stride with apps, and some really interesting things are coming out for it.  And for those willing to sideload, that list is exponentially larger.  But the biggest difference is that Google embraced the fact that there are a large number of us that LOVE being part of the development process, especially for a groundbreaking new device.  So instead of beta testers, we’re explorers.  Yes, I know I paid a huge amount for a product that really isn’t finished.  I can live with that.  Because it really is awesome, and it’s getting better every day.

At the end of the day, there are a ridiculous number of reasons not to get Glass right now.  And I truly do understand why anyone would have that opinion.  But for people that can accept the limitations and are interested in pushing the boundries, in helping to re-write the way our society interacts with the digital space…  well, it really is a wonderful opportunity.

 

  • Thanks for your thoughtful take on Glass, Steve. I, too, share your take that it is a very (very) early beta and, frankly, I fall into that category of folks who tend not too wear them much as they are a bit too big (and a bit too embarrassing). Nevertheless, its clear that wearables are the short term future of technology.

    Steve

    1/7/2014

  • Totally hear you. And there are times when I would definitely avoid wearing them. Right now, they just stand out too much. I remember people stopping me at the airport to check out my iPad when it was new, just like people do with Glass. But the difference is, when you aren’t using the iPad you put it away! With Glass, it’s kinda ‘in your face’. Literally.

    Steve

    1/8/2014

  • I loved your thoughtful response. I have felt belittled by adults who just don’t understand. The reason I still enjoy exploring with them is young people, especially middle school age. They are not blinded by preconceived notions, but wowed by potential. The future users are the reason I wear they proudly and answer the youthful inquiries.

    Lisa

    1/7/2014

  • Thanks for chiming in Lisa. Would love to hear more about your perspective. Are you blogging about your own experiences with them?

    Steve

    1/8/2014

  • I agree with everything you said. I also bought Glass because I wanted to be on the cutting edge, part of something that so few people are a part of. Even if it does flop, it is already changing how people think and view the world around them. Wearable technology is not going away. Every year we get closer to what science fiction writers have been creating for decades. It is an amazing experience and I am glad we get to be a part of it.

    Marc Seigel

    1/7/2014

  • Some people LOVE being part of the process, and some people just want the finished product. I would never recommend Glass to anyone in the latter category. Kinda feel like you have to love the bugs and flaws and being a part of the evolution to really appreciate the device as it is right now. I’m totally with you.

    Steve

    1/8/2014

  • Everything new requires those who are willing to explore beyond what’s considered normal. I’m thankful for those who can test things out. In schools I think more room for exploration is needed.

    Chris

    1/7/2014

  • I also bought into Glass. I work in a high school and to be able to expose the students to cutting edge tech and to see them excited about it really was worth every penny.

    Unfortunately I am returning my Glass as I just can’t justify it at the moment. I am in a horrible service area and would have to jailbreak in order to tether when I want to.

    I believe the biggest problem for Glass to overcome are the times it’s simply not appropriate to be wearing them. Sure these times will dwindle in the future but just as we silent our phones in a movie theatre I take my Glass off at the office, at the gym, and at dinner. Fundamentally not only do we have our phones out constantly by having Glass on but we are waving in it our company’s face. I absolutely think this is the future but with some many barriers to adoption I am not entirely sure this is route this technology will take.

    Chris

    1/8/2014

  • Chris, I think you bring up a great point. It’s all about context, like with any other device. Would I wear Glass during a religious service? No, I would consider it just as disrespectful as checking the phone during services. Did I wear them when my wife and I went out for date night? Nope. Because it would have been a distraction. There will always be times when the right move will be to just take them off and put them away. But as society becomes more accostumed to wearable devices, those times will become fewer and fewer.

    And for the record, in my personal opinion, Glass requires Android. Yes, in theory you could use it with the iPhone or offline, but to get the full experience, you really do need Android. So I totally understand returning them.

    Steve

    1/8/2014

  • I didn’t see a huge difference in experience between the my glass app for android vs. iPhone (tested android on my brother’s galaxy S4).

    I think the only way these will truly take off and not need to be taken off is when the form factor becomes that of having glasses. The idea of “user friction” comes up constantly in technology. Minimizing this friction is critical to adoption and I feel this just may be too much to over come- Besides, even google employees are shying away from them.

    Chris

    1/8/2014

  • […] Ever since I bought Google Glass, I've gotten a ton of questions from people. Some are fascinated by it, some see it as a frivolous expense, and others just think it's the latest technology fad and…  […]

  • Some interesting points on Glass. Enjoyed the article and the comments from others. It’s exciting to see that others are willing to try new technology! We never know where it will take us! Of course, some will be better than others but personally I love to test and push myself to try new tech as often as possible. I look forward to see where Google goes from here. Will Glass survive or not? I do think it’s a step in the right direction.

    Laura Conley

    1/9/2014

  • There are very few times that I take my Glass off. Fortunately my girlfriend is very supportive of my using Glass. I wear it whenever we go to dinner, or to the mall, or even theme parks. She sometimes gets a little tired of people asking me about it, but she’s glad that they have made me a little more extroverted as I always take the time to explain Glass and its functions rather than being my usual antisocial self. She likes that fact that I take more photos and videos of our events and that I’m actually more into it.

    I haven’t had any really negative reactions from anyone and no one has asked me to take them off. I get a lot of looks and hear a lot of whispers, but it’s never been anyone being outwardly negative. Sure it’s not a complete product yet and there is an obvious and expected lack of apps, but you see the potential and you know that it’s going to be a potentially life changing product.

    Rick Perez

    1/9/2014

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