Sitting in a restaurant, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the couple two seats down from me was talking and motioning in my direction. I turned, smiled, and nodded. The guy leaned over and said, “Hey, are you wearing those Google Glasses I’ve been hearing about?” (For the record everyone, it’s Google Glass… singular. Not Google Glasses.) Ignoring his improper plural reference, I replied, “Yes I am! Would you like me to show you how it works?” I got the reply I’ve received 99% of the time this comes up: “Sure, we’d love to see it!”
Situations like this are common in my new life as a Google Glass Explorer.
So, what can one do with Google Glass? Basically anything you can do with a smartphone you can do with Google Glass. Well, except for playing games. Though, as I write this, developers are changing that with games like Glass Hunt and GlassFrogger, with Google even trying to inspire other developers with mini games.
With Google Glass, I can take and receive calls. I can have text and email messages read privately to me. I can then respond by voice, and Google Glass will transcribe what I say. I can take pictures, record video, watch breaking news stories, get notified of bad weather, get directions, check sports scores, and much, much more! Interestingly, I’m less distracted by all this information than most people are with a smartphone.
That is, when Glass works. Yes, the biggest gripe I have with Google Glass is that though it works great 80–90% of the time, the 10–20% of the time that it doesn’t work the way I expect or want it to can be a little aggravating! I say “a little” because I stop and remind myself that this technology—wearable smart technology—is still in its infancy.
Speaking of infancy, do you remember back when you first had a smartphone and you were learning how to use it? Do you remember how quickly you went from not understanding it to becoming very reliant on your smartphone? I had that very same experience with Google Glass! Mind you, learning how to use Glass while already having an understanding of how to use an Android smartphone or iPhone is much faster than learning how to use a smartphone for the very first time. Still, within two days of wearing it, I became acutely aware of when I didn’t have it on.
Remember that 10–20% of the time that I find Glass aggravating to use? That, I believe, is the biggest hurdle that Google and other companies developing wearable smart technology have to overcome. Technology, once it is on your body, is no longer foreign. Your interaction with it becomes more intimate than most other objects you interact with. When a device is so integrated into your life that you are wearing it, it must have an uptime guarantee of 99.9% or greater!
That’s why you are seeing so many simple wearable smart devices like the Fitbit Flex, Jawbone Up, Pebble Watch, or Kiwi Move. What do these different yet very similar technologies have in common? They are all extremely simple and rely very little on other technology.
This is where I feel Google Glass and other smart devices have the greatest problem. Yes, Glass can work to a limited capacity when not tethered to a smartphone or to Wi-Fi access, but its usability drops off to being nothing more than a really expensive smartphone minus the connectivity. For Google Glass to be successful—in fact, for any smart wearable technology to be truly successful—our ability to be connected to the Internet has to be much greater than it is right now.
Where do I think Glass will take us? I don’t believe for one moment that as Glass is designed, right now, and as it operates, right now, everyone will be wearing it soon.
There’s also the issue of cost. I have no idea how much Glass will cost when Google rolls it out. I’ll speculate and say that, even with the limitations of Glass, 98% of those who have seen me demo it have said they want to buy it and would be willing to pony up $400–600 for the device as it is right now.
I’ll make a bold prediction: Smart wearable technology will dominate the lives of upper class and upper middle class citizens in developed countries by the end of 2015. Whether that technology is Google Glass, a watch, a pendent, or a clip on your waist or on your eye, wearable technology is here and now!