There’s no question that, in the quest to augment our lives with always-on wearable tech like Google Glass, the internet search giant definitely has their work cut out for them. Aside from technical hurdles Google still needs to address before Google Glass is ever “consumer ready” (battery life being a major one), there’s now a social stigma finding itself attached to wearable, one that may have the Project Glass team scrambling to perform some damage control.
It was a few weeks back when the Project Glass team put together a nice list of Glass etiquette tips users should be mindful of when using this device out in the real world. Whether online or by word of mouth, we’ve all seen/heard the headlines of Glass wearers getting kicked out of bars and/or restaurants, receiving tickets for driving with Glass, running into Homeland Security, or the rare user generally acting like an ass because they absolutely refuse, under any circumstances, to remove their Glass for anyone — no matter the situation.
It’s because of this, the term “Glasshole” is now being associated with many Glass adopters. A far cry from “techie,” “geek,” or “nerd,” names many expected would follow Glass Explorers before the headset actually became available last year. Glass users are now synonymous with dudes who wear Ed Hardy shirts, a modern day Silicon Valley douche-bag.
Word has no doubt gotten back to the Glass team, who’s poured their blood, sweat, and tears into making Glass not only functional, but socially acceptable piece of technology. Google’s already done a great job at getting the word out on Glass, no one can argue that. But because very few people actually own the headset, there simply aren’t too many people who can say they have firsthand knowledge of the device. It’s because of this, people have formed all sorts of weird opinions about Glass.
If Google hopes for their product — which we can all agree is pretty damn cool — to gain mainstream appeal, they’re going to need to address some common misconceptions first. Set to “clear the air” on a few common myths associated with Glass, the Project Glass team is back with another handy list. As Glass Explorers ourselves, you’d be surprised how many of these we’ve heard from people during our casual run ins, which is why we’re also bringing to you our own experiences while wearing Glass. Let’s take a look.
Myth 1: Glass is the ultimate distraction from the real world
This couldn’t be further than the truth. In fact, Glass was built as a solution to modern day society with our heads constantly buried in our smartphones/tablets. Instead of always looking down, Glass keeps your head up and engaged with the rest of the world.
It’s one of the reasons why Google says “Glass is off by default” (we think sleeping is a better term). The display only activates when you want it to be, either by tapping the touchpad, or tilting your head to a predetermined angle. Like Android Wear, this allows users to quickly get in, and back to whatever it was they were doing.
We’ve all seen the “Then and Now” meme of the inauguration of Pope Francis, a crowd of people holding their phones and tablets in the air. Google mentions that important moments in life “shouldn’t be experienced through the screen you’re trying to capture them on.” We couldn’t agree more.
Myth 2: Glass is always on and recording everything
As we mentioned in myth #1, Glass’ display is off by default. Google built Glass to record video in 10 second increments, with the option to record longer. But because Glass’ battery is so limited, it’s technically not built for recording videos of long length, let alone “always-on” video recording. It’s a question every Glass explorer hears at least once (if not jokingly): “Are you recording me right now?” Chances are no, because you aren’t worth the juice.
Myth 3: Glass Explorers are technology-worshipping geeks
The fact that being a Glass Explorer is such an exclusive club at the moment, lead many to stereotype Explorers as either being… well, weird. Paying money to have your smartphone attached to your face? You must REALLY like technology. Well, yes and no. Google mentions that Glass Explorers “come from all walks of life.” Everything from firemen to reporters and doctors.
Sure all these people more than likely have a love of technology (maybe “respect” a better word?), but they also feel the need to use it more effectively to help enrich their lives, not be subject to it. As we mentioned before, this helps keep us stay engaged with the people and/or loved ones around us. Unlike your smartphone, Glass should never be a distraction, but instead help free you from it.
Myth 4: Glass is ready for prime time
Despite rumors that Glass will be available to the public at the end of this year, let us be very clear: the current version of Glass is still, very much, a prototype. The Glass team mentions how Glass is still being shaped through the crucial and vital feedback of early Glass adopters (“Explorers”), and how the technology will continue to evolve until it’s one day “consumer ready.” They go onto to mention that the final or future versions of Glass may look vastly different from the current model — still in the prototype phase — liking the evolution to mobile phones from the 80’s compared to what we see today. Above, you can see for yourself the evolution of Glass over the course of 2 years.
Myth 5: Glass does facial recognition (and other dodgy things)
Google says that although technologically feasible, they made the decision to not release or even distribute through the official MyGlass store, any kind of facial recognition apps. They go onto mention that just because a “weird application” has been created by a developer, doesn’t mean it’s endorsed by Google. All apps that make it into the MyGlass store have been properly approved by Google, which means you wont find any sketchy apps violating anyone’s security on Glass. At least, not through official channels.
Myth 6: Glass covers your eye(s)
It’s a very common misconception that — like those scouters from the Dragon Ball Z series — Glass covers your right eye. Not true. Google carefully designed Glass so that it stays out of the user’s line of site, placed above the right eye — not directly in front of it. Once again, Glass were purposely designed this way to keep user’s engaged with the world, and not have their head buried into a phone display.
Myth 7: Glass is the perfect surveillance device
While it may be easier to get away with recording short snippets of video using Glass thanks to it’s always outward facing camera, I guess the same argument could be made with the smartphone. Simply pretend you’re firing off an email or text message, while “secretly” recording video footage.
Google was quick to point out that if someone really wanted to secretly record video, there are far better products out there for that sorta thing (spy pens anyone?). Also, if someone were recording you with Glass, it’s possible to look into the tiny display from the outside (which would remain on the entire time by the way), and you’d see yourself and a timer by looking directly into it. The more you know…
Myth 8: Glass is only for those privileged enough to afford it
Okay, in its current prototype form — Glass does not come cheap. For anyone looking to pick up a pair, it can currently be purchased for the low price of $1,500. Google’s acknowledges that while this might not be in everyone’s price range, it’s not only the “wealthy” or “entitled” who have picked up a pair (in my case, work paid for it).
Still, there’s no getting around the fact that this is a very expensive piece of technology, and might have something to do with the negativity surrounding Glass Explorers. Like those girls who love nothing more than to flash their Gucci/Prada handbags, we’re sure some people probably feel the same about lofty Glass Explorers.
Also worth noting was Google not even giving a hint that the price of Glass would come down (even a little bit) when the retail version is finally available. But it’s something we believe will (and needs to happen) if Google expects Glass to become a success.
Myth 9: Glass is banned… EVERYWHERE
This might sound crazy, but the other day while visiting the barber shop, the fella cutting my hair mentioned that he had heard “Google Glass was illegal,” and that it wasn’t allowed in stores. Of course, this simply is not true, but highlights a lot of misinformation and the power of word of mouth. But there are a lot of places you simply can’t (and shouldn’t) wear Google Glass. Whether it’s in the locker room, or while playing Black Jack, once again the same rules that apply to your smartphone, also apply to Google Glass.
When it comes to policy makers, Google reminds them that with prescription lenses now available for Glass, it probably be best to require only Google Glass be powered off, not removed completely from one’s head. Locker rooms can be a dangerous place to find yourself stumbling around blindly.
Myth 10: Glass marks the end of privacy
Look around the net, and you’ll find plenty of privacy advocates fearing technology like Google Glass will be the end of privacy. With camera technology becoming increasingly smaller with every passing year, you can find a camera attached to everything from our cars to smartwatches. But the Project Glass team doesn’t see it as something to be feared (or worse yet, banned).
Instead, Google sees the good outweighing the possibility of bad. Being able to capture life’s precious moments, completely hands-free, then sharing it with the people you love — that’s the true intent of Glass. Not uploading your face to a police database. Let’s not forget there were similar concerns back when the first camera phones began hitting the market. Now, here we are years later, demanding not just 1, but 2 high-resolution cameras be attached to our smartphones and tablets.
And that folks, are the common myths associated with Google Glass, many I’ve had firsthand experience with during my travels. As an Android blogger who writes about mobile technology every day, I ever expected to see Glass suffer such backlash from the public. What was once, “Wow. This is going to change the world!” has quickly turned into distaste and even ill will towards, not only Glass, but those who have adopted it.
Whether it has something to do with the high cost of entry or that, for many, Glass simply “looks silly,” is tough to say (probably a little bit of everything). One thing is clear: no matter Google’s intentions with Glass, their plan of creating demand for an innovative new product being teased for the masses may have backfired on them. There’s still plenty of time to turn the ship around before Glass is finally available to the public. If nothing else, it seems at best Google Glass users may soon find themselves lumped into the same boat as Prius-driving hipsters. Guess there are worse labels, right?