|Image [cc] – Tedeytan|
Last year it seemed everyone was gaga for Google Glass.
“Ooooooh, it’s a computer for your face! It’s got a camera and can give you directions! It’s just like your phone was permanently positioned 3 feet in front of your right eye! Woo hoo! I can’t wait to get one!”
I wasn’t so sure. I didn’t jump on board. I just didn’t see the utility. Yes, it’s a cool concept, but the functionality wasn’t there. Maybe in a few years it would become something functional and interesting, but I certainly wasn’t going to waste my money on something that was little more than a half-baked concept.
A week ago Google announced that they were opening up Glass sales for one day only. On Tuesday, if you were willing to shell out $1500 dollars, this pre-beta, sub-functional, ugly cyborg technology could be yours! The one day sale was met with a barrage of negative press. Journalists and bloggers across the world almost universally decried this Google foray into wearable tech as not yet ready for prime time, or elitist technology, or as little more than a toy for wealthy geeks. One Business Insider journalist told his harrowing tale of being assaulted on the streets of San Francisco for wearing his Glass in public. Glass has been banned in some coffee shops and bars. Most tellingly, the term Glasshole has graduated from Silicon Valley/Northern California in-joke to official entry in the American Lexicon. I even heard Michael Strahan say it on Live! (Kelly was aghast.) Boy, when the pendulum swings, that sucker swings hard! By Tuesday morning, it was clear to me that everyone in the world finally agreed with my original assessment of Google Glass. So, I bought one.
You’ve heard the phrase “that many people can’t be wrong”? Well, any time consensus holds that I am that right about something, you can be sure I’m going to seriously question that assessment. The “wisdom of the crowds” does not refer to the crowd’s purchasing prowess after all. If that many people, most of whom have never tried or even seen the technology, hate it with such a viciousness, that is a sure sign that there is something there worth exploring.
So Hello World! I am about to become a Glasshole.
Now, I don’t intend to wear the damn thing around all the time. Mostly because I don’t want to be beaten up by the poor disadvantaged proletarian children carrying their 1970s-era super computers in their pockets instead of wearing them on their face. (“Down with the face computers, long live the pocket!”) But also because, I suspect they will make me look even dorkier than usual. And also, in a nod to all of my privacy lawyer friends who just crossed me off their Christmas Card list, because there are some real, gray area, privacy concerns surrounding wearable technology in public. Our social norms, let alone our laws, have not yet assimilated wearable, always-on, camera computers.
That said, this is happening people! Wearable computing is here. It will only become more prevalent, and we have to learn to live with it. More to the point, we will have to learn to work with it. While I can imagine any number of futures for Google Glass and its like – everything from laws preventing its use in public, to public distribution for all school children – I have no doubt that one day I will start my working day, not by logging into my desktop computer, but by physically putting my computer on my body. And I would bet that that day is closer to 2020 than it is to 2030.
I understand that Google has a 30 day money back guarantee, so if it turns out that my original assessment (and the rest of the world’s since Tuesday) is right, maybe I’ll ship it back to Mountain View in the next month. In the meantime, please don’t worry about people calling me a Glasshole, I’ve been called something very similar for most of my life and I probably won’t even notice.