I love that the walkman and now the ipod gave us a soundtrack to our lives but now we are on the verge of Google’s new “Glass” project possibly giving us a fly on the wall account of our lives. Of course both the walkman and Google’s glass require you to actively participate and choose to wear the device, turn it on and share – or stream.
My first thought was COOL! My second thought was “this is a bit weird, it takes multi-tasking to a whole new level” but not in a good way. It would be hard to ever capture someone’s attention completely. But having said that, we already suffer this lack of focused attention with the popularity of the smartphone – people sneaking an update at every moment. My third thought was “would I like to use Google glass?” Not would I use it? I know I would, I’d be too curious and like all things, once you’ve become accustomed, I’m sure I would adopt it like many others. But would I like it? I’m not too sure. The One Day video (below) didn’t resonate with me. While I think its cool and possibly practical, I just didn’t like the experience.
However, when I watched the Madame & Bebe Gayno video, where it was used in a real life situation (that’s not extreme), I saw the value in what Google’s Glass Project can offer much more. The ability to capture those candid moments that disappear as soon as a camera appears. Of course even Google’s Glass product would still be able to miss these moments but at least you would have a fighting chance.
Glass seems to combine so many elements that we already enjoy on our smartphone but in a way that is more integrated with our brains, if that makes sense. Our senses are what make us human – sight is the most obvious sense Google Glass is taking advantage of. From the demo’s I can tell if it can pick up smell or touch or taste but it can definitely hear. The voice prompt that has been deployed with iPhone’s Siri is used to a much more dramatic affect here. I wonder if it will suffer the same accent barriers and we will see people standing in the street, appearing to be talking (or yelling) to themselves in frustration?
From the One Day demo we can see that Glass integrates with GPS, with the internet and search, with skype or facebook. Glass syncs with your calendar and with Google+ or Facebook, whichever product he used to checkin, I’m not sure. Again, all things we can get on our smartphones. Of course the One Day video is a demo and these examples take liberties, because it certainly felt to me that Google Glass could read his mind. When he got a message and started speaking it automatically responded to his friend. This kind of automatic response could cause many problems for people in meetings or speaking to their friends when the girlfriend calls. I would expect there would need to be an “on” or “active” command for the voice recognition before responding. And would those sounds be turned on for all to hear with a speaker in the glasses or would you wear ear phones or are the sounds just for the demo? But now I’m splitting hairs.
At the end of the day, there’s no denying that Google Glass is cool – even if its just a new interface for what we already have. New devices are cool, and new mobile devices are even cooler and many of them just enhance the tools we’re already used to, but they keep getting better and better. But I’m still not sure I like the idea of walking along the street and having my email ding in my head, and my voicemail, email, facebook, G+, twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Diary reminders etc flashing before my eyes. I already get inertia from the information overload but at least I can choose which browser window I open. It feels like you’re always on with Google Glass. And I’m sure that’s the point, some people want to be “always on”. And of course we are in control, we can take them off. But would we?