Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Google Glass: a warning from history

Sinclair C5

I’m not a fan of Google Glass. There, I’ve said it. If you’re a fan of it, feel free to start throwing rocks at me right about now. Frankly, I don’t care.

Normally, I’m a big fan of change, and innovation. It’s what drives an economy forward, what creates new opportunities, and it feeds itself. To me, the phrase ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ is a cop-out of massive proportions. It’s the easy way out of having to do anything, and it’s often used by people who are scared of change, and want the world to stay exactly the same. If that was the case, I don’t think we’d have ever invented fire, the wheel, or allowed Breaking Bad to mature into one of the greatest TV shows ever produced.

But am I the only one who thinks that Google Glass is just a creepy load of old cack?

For starters, I’m yet to see one person wearing a pair of them that doesn’t look like a prat.

I mean, come on! They may look okay on a model, or on Sergei Brin (aka not-quite Tony Stark), but on you and me? I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to end up looking more like a Bullseye contestant.


Also, Robert Scoble wears them. In public toilets. And whilst he’s not a pervert, I’d certainly get a bit creeped out having somebody standing next to me at the urinals wearing one of those. I’d get pee-shy if I knew there was a risk I could end up on the internet. Seriously, the potential for perving with these bad boys is huge.

Also, think about how people would react around you. Yes, the world is becoming more technologically advanced by the nano-second, but don’t forget that some people are still fundamentally a bit scared of having their pictures taken, let alone being recorded. These aren’t just insecure wallflowers - these are people who value their privacy. Who would like to perhaps have a conversation with you without having to worry about their vocal mannerisms, their nervous tic, or even just wanting to have an off-the-record chat? Yes, I know that products are designed with the vast majority of decent people in mind, but this is still a bit of a kick in the face for good old-fashioned privacy.

With that said, I don’t think wearable technology is a fad. Clearly it isn’t. It’s here to stay, and we’ve been augmenting ourselves since the dawn of time with wearable innovations (shoes, clothes, glasses, watches). But that doesn’t stop me from wondering why a pair of goggles is being seen as something truly groundbreaking. I’d prefer something less intrusive, less showy. A bit more refined. This is a bad use of wearable tech.

In the confines of Silicon Valley/Roundabout, walking around with a pair of interactive goggles on marks you out as a real trendsetter, surfing the bleeding edge with gay abandon. I’m imagining walking around with this technology in Manchester, other areas of London. Not quite so cosy and new-tech now, is it? Now you just look like a simpleton with some lenseless specs.

Google, remember: to Sir Clive Sinclair, the C5 seemed like a great idea at the time. To Alan Sugar, the GX4000 and the eM@iler seemed like great ideas. History is telling you something, Google: Don’t get carried away by the limited success of your other hardware products and think that you are above a failure of this magnitude.

Every tech disaster was a ‘great idea’ at some point.

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