I should be laying my hands on Google Glass in New York later in the week, so I’m probably a bit more excited about it than I ought to be, but I don’t think necessarily that this is unfounded.
I’ve been pretty frustrated with the lack of big technology developments since smartphones changed everything back in 2007-8. Since then, we’ve been tuning the model, and of course finding more great things to do in mobile, and that’s great. It helps our clients get used to deploying their brands across a space that makes sense to a new generation of consumers, and shows that new digital avenues open up new potential for revenue.
For example, Starbucks have recently announced 10% of all revenues are now delivered through mobile. And even outside the commerce space you find brands like Toyota who are hugely increasing lead generation by being on the right device in the right way.
But every new release, especially from Apple has been pretty much ‘so what’, and this has even contributed to deflating their astronomical stock price.
So Glass, for all its Matrix-esque backstory, has the potential to lead out the next phase of interactive. Wearable technology has always had its doubters, but I think that this product is the first of its kind that will break through. Here’s why:
- The beta is very strong
The last revolution of this type was the first version of the iPhone. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one the day after its US release thanks to the brilliant Marc Lewis. While it clearly had huge drawbacks (no 3G, terrible battery etc) it had so many new and compelling interface and UX features that you could barely put it down.
While Engadget’s excellent assessment calls out a number of very similar issues, the core product set seems strong enough to play the foundation for a new way to interact with digital information.
- New interactions – here we come
While pranksters have been quick to look at some of the downsides of Glass, it definitely creates a new range of ways for us to improve and add value to human interactions. Take the first Glass-enabled bike ride or the ability to take POV videos like never before. Until we get the device into the hands of more users we won’t be able to predict these, but the possibilities seem endless
- It’s open and easy to work with
Based on Android, we’re going to see brands and services quickly deploy to the ecosystem – the NY Times is already there. Roundarch Isobar developer Mike DiGiovanni was able to get software up and running pretty much straight away, meaning we can get truly meaningful services live without having to reinvent the wheel
- It can really ‘make things better’
While it’s hard to argue that we ‘need’ more digital touchpoints in our data-rich world, I think there’s a natural pathway from Always On to Internet Everywhere to where Glass takes us which is Internet in Everything. While there is much development of internet enabled devices such as cars, TVs and the infamous internet fridge, the big prize is surely in connecting the person, and until we know much more about neural circuitry to develop the SciFi visions of the future we see in the movies, Glass is as good as it’s going to get.
- Privacy Schmivacy
The darker vision of always-on in-person internet was best recorded in Charlie Brooker’s extraordinary Black Mirror. (Outside the UK there’s a short clip here)
I’ve long believed that sharing is the new privacy, and that as the internet spreads everywhere, two things happen:
1) we lower our barriers as to what we view as private, and become more used to more of our lives being out in the open
2) we adapt and develop new techniques to manage data systems and how we live within them
Facebook has grown very adept at building privacy controls into its product developments, so new potentially difficult features such as Partner Categories now cause little commotion. While Glass’s features provide a new set of data privacy conundrums, Google’s Don’t Be Evil mantra should be able to resolve them without too much difficulty
So I for one am looking forward to working on Glass as soon as possible.
The future’s bright, the future’s see-through.