Google Glass won’t become mainstream in 2014

Google GlassI’m calling this a Google product that still has 3-5 years before society is ready for it and it still doesn’t seem technologically ready for prime time. While I do think Google Glass might have some niche applications for users that depend on real-time data/information such as police, medics, the military and possible even stock traders I don’t think the device is robust enough to last long enough to make the investment financially viable if they were even allowed to get a device.

I could see the medical field being able to benefit from having access to information in the field in most surgery wards it would be just as easy to have a monitor that allows for voice control and that would limit distractions such as Google Now reminders on what time their Golf game starts. The only possible use I could see for the device would be when doing presentations and training sessions as it would allow you to walk away from your laptop and still read from your slides and take questions from social media channels.

The other big issue is that the Google Explorer program is limited to the US currently so it’s unlikely the device can attract international acceptance while it’s still a device limited to the USA market.

Society is still coming to grips with Mobile phones

I think the big barrier to technologies like Google Glass is that they came out of nowhere where if you look at mobiles that are still facing issues such as their safe use while driving were first launched by Motorola back in April 1973.  So you have a current accepted technology such as mobile phones that have been around 41 years and we are still struggling to iron out what is acceptable use in society such as at work and in social situations.

Someone sitting across from me in a one-on-one social interaction playing with a phone can be annoying but seeing someone gazing into the Google Glass screen makes me nervous as I’ve got no real idea what they are doing.  I think most companies would accept employees requests that staff or visitors are not to wear Google Glass or similar devices in the work place.

Wearable Tech will be hot in 2014 but not Google Glass

One of the pre-Christmas presents I purchased was a Fitbit Flex that tracks my steps, distanced walked, calories burned and my sleep quality.  This is a wearable device that doesn’t distract me and you almost forget you are wearing it as it’s a passive device that just helps you track your lifestyle and activity. This is different wearable tech than Google Glass and something that doesn’t interfere with your personal interactions.

There are lots of other wearable tech devices that are going to become common place in 2014 but each are mostly focused on improving your life and make things easier such as:

  • Nike FuelBand – Tracks your active life for all kinds of activities
  • Myo – Gesture Control Armband
  • Lumo Back – Focused on improving posture, measuring sleep and movement
  • Kiwi – Track activity, gesture control, voice control
  • Pebble Smartwatch – Apps, notifications and watch
  • Samsung GALAXY Gear – Apps, notifications, calls and watch

The only two that are really close to Google Glass is the Pebble and Gear Smartwatches but these are more of a hybrid between your watch and your phone. I really struggle to think how Google Glass can be successful as the biggest roadblock is the $1500 price level for the Glass Explorer device this is almost 10 times the price of any of the wearable tech devices listed above.

If the Google Glass price point can drop down to a few hundred dollars it might become something more common but I expect it will take 3-5 years to get to that pricing point once there is mass production in place and unlikely in 2014.

Early Adopters maybe abandoning Glass already

Even some of the early adapters as part of the Glass Explorer program appear to be regretting their $1500 purchase as some of Robin’s early revelations include: can be nauseating, if you lose your Glass it’s gone for good, you can get bored very quickly and battery drain is too fast. I can see the battery life still as a big issue and more of an annoyance as most mobile devices are already struggling to last a even a full day of heavy use.

Even early adopters and evangelists like Robert Scoble have written extensive posts on Google+ about the limitations of Google Glass and why even he thinks that it might be doomed in 2014. According to Business Insider there are already trends that even Googlers have stopped wearing the devices as they don’t like advertising to everyone that they work for Google.

For a company that focuses on employees eating your own dog food it’s not a good sign if employees are resisting against wearing their devices 24/7.  As pointed out in Robin’s article the other issue is theft as if you are mugged and the device is stolen it’s gone so that’s obviously something that even Googlers may no longer appear to be willing to risk on their daily commutes on public transport.

There are also annoying features such as any photos you share to Twitter has the annoying marketing text #throughglass added.  This self-promotional message can be a flood through your news feed when there are large amounts of Glass Explorers attending the same event or conference. If there is one hashtag I would want to block it would be #throughglass!

What about health implications from wearing Google Glass?

But I do worry about increasing levels of cancer when you use Google Glass for extended periods, as I don’t think anyone has really touched on the potential health impacts both from cancer but also how it might cause long term vision issues from extended strain caused by the viewing screen.

There are lots of fun side effects of long term use such as binocular rivalry, visual interference and latent misalignment of the eyes according to Forbes. The device currently doesn’t seem to be something suitable to be worn for extended periods of time such as when watching a movie or reading all your emails.

The bigger health implications come from distracting the user who may be paying less attention when walking, driving or riding and viewing information in the Google Glass screen.

Security Risks of people wearing Google Glass?

In a vast number of companies and businesses they have very strict policies on what can be shared in public but also what materials employees are able to store or keep.  The big problem is that the camera device allows sensitive information to be leaked from a company easily as Google Glass now allows for photos to be taken by just winking.  Only the wearer of the device is able to see what is going on and this makes it a perfect technology for criminals and even terrorists.  TechAdvisor have covered both security and health topics in much more detail if you want to read more you can find the article here.

Will it soon be illegal to wear Google Glass in most places?

There are already discussions around the issue and possible criminal charges for people wearing Google Glass in Movie Theaters, Casinos, Strip Clubs and Restaurants.  But this is only the tip of the iceberg as this doesn’t yet cover a whole number of places that mobile phones are not allowed such as change rooms, playgrounds, public pools and some beaches in order to protect families and their privacy and ensure unwanted photos are not taken.

There is already a case with Cecilia Abadie who was caught speeding in California and the police officer noted on the ticket that she was noted in the 3rd infraction on the ticket as “Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass)”. I assume that it’s only a matter or time before people using Google Glass while driving maybe more distracted than Cecilia and not just miss the police car driving behind you but may caused an accident.  I wonder how Google might start to react when it’s users are using the device so as to endanger their lives or others?

How important are you that you need Google Glass?

How important that you are that you can’t reach down to your pocket to grab your phone, heck one of the world’s most successful and richest men Warren Buffer still uses an old flip phone.  So it’s fairly likely that you are not going to be successful in business just because you have Google Glass on your head 24/7.

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2 comments

  1. Sasch says:

    Boy… Your rant is REALLY LONG. ;-)
    You do make a handful of good points, but playing the Terrorist Card? Really? “If you lose Glass it’s gone?” Heck, if I lose my keys they’re gone. Being gone is one of the few commonalities of all lost things. ;-)

    As for Googlers abandoning the device… Not the ones I know. And as for them being a distraction while driving, nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who’s ever used a pair for GPS purposes will attest to that.

    Nevertheless, the battery life is a factor, to be sure. If you’re not really doing very much, the battery will hold up for the better part of a day. However, if you’re using the device as Goog intended, you’ll burn through the onboard power in four to five hours, so getting enough juice into the device will be crucial to its future success. Where personal/corporate paranoia about being spied upon is concerned, this too is sure to raise its head, as people who haven’t used the device will be naturally suspicious of lenses pointing at them or their computer screens. With that said, the bright light, clearly visible to those being photographed/filmed is kind of a giveaway on that score. Again, anyone who’s ever used or encountered a pair tends to know this.

    With all that said, I would be surprised if Google Glass went mainstream in 2014. It’s still early days, and, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the device is currently in the alpha testing stage. time will tell…

    • David says:

      Thanks for the extended comment Sasch, sorry I don’t do Google+ commenting I’m sticking with old school but may think about a move to discuss at some point once I look at some data I’ve got on different comment platforms. The terrorist card was just an example but I did read two interesting posts on criminals making use of them so thought why not…

      I’m not sure on the background behind the Googlers is but I assume most people also got bored with the device fairly quickly and swap back to their phone….

      There is always a way to disable elements such as the light that shows when a photo is taken and if they are looking at their own screen no-one would be the wiser…

      But interesting that a lot of people aren’t disagreeing with the main theme that they won’t be making it big in 2014, I wonder if Apple or Samsung could get something more consumer friendly to market first and take the lead off Google?