Joshua Fruhlinger of Engaged recently posted a very good piece entitled “The Dark Side of Google Glass” http://www.engadget.com/2013/03/06/this-is-the-modem-world-the-dark-side-of-google-glass/ While the inner geek in me gets excited about the possibilities that a technology like this brings, I think we do have to ask ourselves a few questions: is this how we want to experience life? Are our brains ready for this level of information bombardment? Frankly, I’m already too distracted. I find myself craving disconnected time, so my brain can cycle down and go into more deep thoughts. And I’m sure my wife would not prefer to have me connected that much either. She’s already pretty annoyed when because I look at my phone far too often than I should or need to.
Have you ever been to a business dinner and everyone’s phone is sitting on the table? Imagine everyone wearing Google Glasses? Would a conversation even occur? How could a relationship be built with a stream of data on the corner of your eye? Of course, you can always take the glasses off and put them on when you “need” them, but isn’t that pretty much what you can do with a smartphone? Turn off the ringer and vibrate and put it in your pocket or purse. What are the glasses buying you then?
This is to not say that there aren’t some really neat applications to this type of technology. As a runner, what I would love would be a Google Glass app that gave me pace/distance/heart rate stats in the HUD. Yes, I can get that today from my GPS watch, but I have to say, I think HUD information display would be amazingly cool and fun. Layer in all the other stuff you can do with this type of application, like racing your own “ghost” from a previous run on the same route, or a game you play where zombies are chasing you as it takes you through an interval workout? I’d pay for that. I’m not sure I’d pay for the ability to get a text message while I’m walking down the office hallway.
Business applications are really where I think this can excel, and become “mainstream”. Imagine an engineer wearing glasses, which provide an augmented reality view to allow the engineer to see “into” a wall, and see the wiring and internal structure? Retail workers could use glasses+HUD technology to optimize inventory and restocking tasks. Law enforcement and military applications are infinite, although there are some privacy concerns with law enforcement. Imagine a glasses app that scans a crowd, does instant facial recognition, and points the person out with an arrest warrant, in real-time? We are not far from that today with existing technologies.
Maybe Google Glasses are ahead of their time, or perhaps best suited to specific applications, both for fun and business.
In the meantime, enjoy this parody video of how guys will use Google Glass: