I walked away convinced that this wasn’t just one of Google’s weird flights of fancy. The more I used Glass the more it made sense to me; the more I wanted it. […]
After a few hours with Glass, I’ve decided that the question is no longer ‘if,’ but ‘when?’
-Joshua Topolsky, The Verge
The video below made me instantly think that if I had $1500 lying around, I’d want Google Glass on day one. At some point, the functionality you get out of it outweighs the fact that you’re wearing some clunky bullshit on your face. (And just imagine the functionality and form factor the hardware will have if Google keeps on it for a few years.)
But will it seem as gauche to wear Glass everywhere as it does, currently, when people wear their Bluetooth headset to dinner? Yes and no. I think it’d be closer to glancing at your smartphone, which can still be very rude at times, but can also be forgivable in just as many occasions.
As a friend pointed out to me, the wearable computing race now seems like it will come down to watch vs. glasses. Certainly, glasses/HUD is the more exciting of the two, but is it too obtrusive? As some have pointed out, it may indeed be that any wearable computing will be too much:
The difference is, of course, I can put the phone in my pocket the second you start talking to me. It is not part of our conversation and there is no screen alerting me to a new message or enticing me with some video. Putting the phone in my pocket is a way to say, “Okay it’s just you and me talking now.
The modal nature of smartphones is something I hadn’t thought much about, but which seems like a compelling argument against wearable computers–or at least heads-up displays. I do make a conscious decision to leave my phone in the pocket most of the time at dinner, and to interact with my kids without flicking my eyes down at the screen every minute or two. I do turn my phone face-down on the table during meetings (well, small, face-to-face ones, anyway) to signal that I’m paying attention. Google Glass isn’t really useful unless you’re wearing it most of the time, in which case you’re taking a chainsaw to this subtle ability to switch modes.
At least with a hand-held phone there was no charade. The very presence of the device in hand, head down, was a clear flag alerting bystanders to the momentary disconnect. “At the moment, I’m not paying attention to you.”
Of course, there’s are some counterpoints out there, for what they’re worth:
But the uncool factor can be overridden in various ways. Nike can make anyone wear anything, especially if it’s packaged like a watch with superpowers. A few years ago, you looked like a dork wearing headphones in public but Apple made it cool. Beats By Dre made wearing huge over-the-ear headphones in public cool a few years later. You look like a dork wearing a Bluetooth headset and talking to yourself, but they are cheap and useful enough that it doesn’t matter. Mobile phone usage in public used to appear very strange…for awhile it was difficult to tell the brokers-in-a-hurry from the mentally unstable homeless folks muttering to themselves.
I don’t think I’ll be wearing a computer on my face anytime soon, but it’s thought-provoking, to be sure. None of us probably thought we’d be carrying around the equivalent of a 1997 supercomputer in our pockets 16 hours a day, either.