Google Glass: Future or awkward tech?
The search giant will emerge as market leader if consumers adopt the new technology. But will they?
The endlessly hyped Google (GOOG) Glass line of computerized specs made major waves at last week's Google I/O conference. Co-founder Sergey Brin showcased a thrilling video of he and a few fellow Googlers jumping out of a plane while wearing the glasses (watch the clip at TheWeek.com).
Google is betting big on Google Glass, which will reportedly allow a wearer to use vocal commands to send instant messages, look up directions, snap photos, and video chat with friends. The search giant seems intent on shaping a whole new product category from which it can immediately emerge as a market leader.
The Android-powered specs won't come cheap: Early adopters will need to pony up $1,500 for an advanced pair, which are expected to launch sometime in 2014. But even when the price inevitably comes down and the hardware becomes less cumbersome, will normal people actually wear these glasses?
Absolutely. You're looking at the future:
Sure, Google's digital glasses are "goofy," says Farhad Manjoo at Pando Daily. But so what? "A lot of technologies are goofy until they become ubiquitous." Talking on the phone, beaming the world a Facebook (FB) status, or writing a witty review for your neighborhood taco truck were all deemed socially awkward until those actions became a normal part of our everyday lives. Once everyone starts doing it, the "inherent goofiness" melts away. Wearable computers will become quite ubiquitous "sooner than you think."
Don't be so sure:
A computer "that's literally sitting on our face for every waking moment sounds really socially alienating," says Sam Biddle at Gizmodo. And Google doesn't seem to care, instead being happily "blinded by its own smarts." Technology "should make the way we live our lives better, not dictate the way we live." Google desperately wants us to believe that its expansive catalog of products -- Google+, Google Now, Project Glass -- are all super cool and worth adopting. Clearly, the search giant is good at making impressive things. "But are they impressive things that anyone actually wants?"
Glass will succeed by fading into the background:
Brin says the ultimate form of communication occurs "when technology gets out of the way," says Nick Bilton at The New York Times. And true to that promise, these glasses are surprisingly unobstrusive. The headset's display sits off to the side of your eye so that you can interact with it only when you need to. "When an email or text message comes in, you can look if you want, or simply ignore it." The frames are barely there, and that's exactly the point. Glass will free us from having to peer down at a 4-inch smartphone screen, allowing us to be even more social than we are now. "We will no longer have to constantly look at our devices, but instead, these wearable devices will look back at us."
Sources: Pando Daily, Gizmodo, The New York Times
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