Google Glass: Will consumers ditch smart phones for smart glasses?

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) created a generation of gamers. Apple unveiled the iPhone in 2007 and now, only a few years later, it’s common for grandparents to say goodnight to grandchildren over FaceTime. Now that we’re in our 2000-teen years, what’s next?

Google Glass hopes to be the next technology addiction that changes human behavior. But it’s unclear whether humankind will adopt or even want this smart glass techno-topia. Will you trust that your Glass-wearing friend isn’t streaming your private conversation to his or her Twitter followers? The Glass may help a lost pedestrian navigate through New York City, but will it warn them when a car is headed straight at them as they iChat with friends? Not every consumer will want that much digital disruption in their lives. The Glass is real, but the vision is blurry.

Google Glass could evolve. Companies may discover ways to improve the customer experience or understand customer behavior by incorporating Glass technology into the process. Rather than ask a clerk where Home Depot keeps the 1/8-inch drill bits, shoppers can borrow a pair of custom Home Depot smart glasses to find anything in the store. Home Depot will then have complete customer visits recorded and analyzed to improve the business efficiency and profitability.

How will companies adapt to Google Glass? What is the consumer future of Google Glass? We asked several Cspacers for their Google Glass predictions, opinions and ideas. What are your ideas? Submit your ideas in the comments below and we’ll post the best answers.

Updated: 04/10/2013 3:31 pm EDT

Howard Kogan, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, Communispace

You have to give the folks at Google credit – this is a bold and aggressive ‘vision’ of the future.

Just 10 years ago would we have ever imagined that people walking down the street, much less sitting at dinner with family and friends, would have their eyes glued to their phone entranced in the latest bit of social trend or internet meme? The world is changing rapidly and it isn’t hard to imagine that Google Glass becomes socially acceptable faster than one would instinctively think.

Even more functionally, imagine the possibilities from innovations in healthcare: picture a video enabled visit with your doctor while she is commuting to work; to entertainment: how about being at a baseball game and seeing high definition replays of a close play at home plate from 3 different angles without ever having to take your eyes off the field?

Make them affordable, keep them stylish, and accelerating technology innovation will create endless possibilities for this product.

Julie Wittes Schlack, Senior Vice President, Innovation, Communispace

Though I’m generally an optimist, I think the Glass is still only half-full. Speech recognition technology, especially in noisy environments, will have to be much better than it is today for Google Glass to be as powerful as the promotions suggest. But more fundamentally, I worry about what it means for our cognitive and emotional well-being if we are continually taking ourselves out of the moment to record, promote or research it. I’m pretty certain that people will adopt Google Glass as a hands-free way to access store guides, maps and references, and have no problem with that. But I expect – or at least hope – that people will reject it as a means of “augmenting” or “enhancing” reality. As individuals, nations and a species, we’d be far better served by actually looking at real people, and by participating in and improving the physical world around us, unmediated by Glasses.

Jen Reddy, Vice President, Global Marketing, Communispace

I am equal parts fascinated and terrified by this technology. These glasses can be the vehicle for more productive retail experiences, new advertising messages and unique social experiences. But at what cost? I feel we are all too hyper-connected as it is! Or at least I am, and feeling fatigued. I long for the days when people left their smart phones off the dinner tables, had real conversations rather than text marathons, and enjoyed their surroundings instead of “checking in.” Will these glasses make us more isolated? Will anyone know what the real world is all about if viewing the world through computerized glasses becomes a massive trend?

Manila Austin, Vice President, Research, Communispace

As an unabashed science fiction aficionado, I say, “Bring it on!” Ever since William Gibson envisioned (and first coined the term) “the matrix” in the 1980’s, the seamless integration of technology with our physical personhood was inevitable. I welcome technology’s ability to enrich and extend how I perceive and navigate the world. I have no sense of direction and utterly depend on my GPS. I consume media on one device and use a second device to simultaneously search, multitask and text. The latest from Google is a step in that direction; but it is an incremental step, only. Why? Because these are glasses. A lot of people don’t want to wear glasses, which is why there are contact lenses. For myself, I wear prescription glasses to watch movies and the like. Am I supposed to switch glasses when I want to text or look something up? I’d rather use a hand-held device for that. Glasses are very personal, too, and I would not want to wear “communal” ones to shop at Home Depot or any other store. Gross. The point I’m making is that I see some real barriers to adoption from a consumer perspective, and I don’t foresee people abandoning their smart phones any time soon. But somebody has to go first, and so I will watch the early adopters carefully as they pave the way for the rest of us. The underlying functionality Google Glass promises is real and (for better or worse) inevitable. We need to pay attention to that.

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5 thoughts on “Google Glass: Will consumers ditch smart phones for smart glasses?

  1. I think products like Google Glass will definitely become mainstream. However, it will take a while. Unquestionably, the product has utility. Any significant usability problems will be eventually solved by product designers or users themselves through their usage behavior. The major hinderance is social acceptance. Essentially, when you are wearing one, do you feel others think you are cool, or simply a misguided technophile? In addition, there are a lot of uncertainty around usage protocol which needs to congeal into social norms. For example, do you take them off when you are talking to another person? Until consumers feel confident that they have low risk of committing a faux pas, they will be hesitant to adopt the product. I see a positive tipping point eventually. The question is how long it will take to get there.

    If Google is serious about this, they need to meticulously manage the image of their early adopters. If we start seeing people in the first class cabin wearing these, then the product will take off quickly. (Excuse the pun.) However, if the only ones we see are people like Sergey or MIT computer science students running around with them, then Google better settle in for a long wait.

  2. You have to give the folks at Google credit – this is a bold and aggressive ‘vision’ of the future.

    Just 10 years ago would we have ever imagined that people walking down the street, much less sitting at dinner with family and friends, would have their eyes glued to their phone entranced in the latest bit of social trend or internet meme? The world is changing rapidly and it isn’t hard to imagine that Google Glass becomes socially acceptable faster than one would instinctively think.

    Even more functionally, imagine the possibilities from innovations in healthcare: picture a video enabled visit with your doctor while she is commuting to work; to entertainment: how about being at a baseball game and seeing high definition replays of a close play at home plate from 3 different angles without ever having to take your eyes off the field?

    Make them affordable, keep them stylish, and accelerating technology innovation will create endless possibilities for this product.

  3. As a former IT person and certified technology geek, the very thought of this device excites me. The concept of “wear-able computing” has been around since the early 1990s, but it is only now starting to enter mainstream thinking.

    However, like Jen, I am also a bit nervous about it. We are already too connected as it is, and all signs point to becoming even more so in the future. What is next? Bio-medical implants that connect us directly to the internet and to each other at all times? Micro-chipping children when they are born? The technology itself will initially be pretty unreliable, but I am certain it will improve over time and be widely adopted. I am just not sure that is a good thing.

    But because I cannot resist new gadgets, I will likely be an early adopter and be assimilated quickly.

  4. Ever since I heard about Google Glass one specific question has been lingering on my mind – Will recording people without permission become an everyday practice with a product like this? I’ve gotten conflicting opinions from everyone I’ve talked to. The folks on Polar are now running a great poll on this question, see the incoming results below (you can vote as well by clicking on the choice).

    http://polarb.com/63705-google-glass-will-recording-people-w-out-permission-become

    Interesting to see that more people think it will be banned, folks seem to me uncomfortable with being recorded.

  5. The evolutionary process spawns many species and not every step leads to a next generation and not every end point is a dead end. We don’t often see anyone using a beta-max but most of us still watch television and without analog broadcasting we might never have progressed to digital and mobile technology.

    Google glass is the first step in an evolution that will likely reach a flash burn but how great would it be if eventually medical technicians on the scene of an accident can transmit visuals that allow lifesaving measures for time critical injuries? What if gg headsets are distributed in high crime areas to deter gang activities and allow quicker response times and more accurate descriptions of criminal activity?

    No doubt there will be people who will “gamify” any communications product and there will be horror stories.

    However, there will also be people who will likely see ways to adopt and modify the product for more practical uses. I personally don’t see this being a widespread adoptive product for consumers because it’s too much like big brother, but the fact that it exists means that everybody from photographers and artists to medical device manufacturers will gain from its entrance. Our sensory tools like eyes and ears are simply vehicles that provide signals to our brain. It’s our brain that “sees” because it alone can provide context. What if a hybrid of these glasses could someday replace broken links like blindness by sending signals our brains can interpret? Like the old Disney adage: “If you can dream it you can do it.” What a wonderful world we live in where dreams really do come true.

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