OK, I lied. The headline was just to grab your attention. The current version of Glass will never become mainstream. Here’s why:
About a month ago, I went to dinner with a friend in San Francisco who happened to be a Glass Explorer. He came into the restaurant, sat down at the table, conversation ensued and (to my surprise) he never took off his Glass. It wasn’t a date so there was no obligatory reason why he should take them off and thus, made the decision to turn this experience into an experiment.
Whilst conversing, he’d frequently refer to a photo he took at X place or be reminded of this coffee shop/bar at X district and then proceed to look up the photo or the name of the place to “show” me. Except he could never find the photo and I was completely underwhelmed when he’d finally “find” the name of a place. We left dinner, said I’d see him at Glazed (the first wearable technology conference), hopped in a cab and shuddered at the sheer repulsion I suddenly felt towards technology.
Thereafter, I carried this repulsion with me each time I went to dinner; I would hide my phone so far away from the table that I would have a hard time finding it when dinner was over. I had lost all desire to check my phone for updates and couldn’t help but look around at everyone sitting at other tables. I’d glisten at their interactions: their smiles, their hand gestures, the intensity of energy felt when eyes locked, the awkward silences and so on. I became infatuated with observing human interactions.
I began to relate this love back to the repulsion and… then it all made sense.
When we meet with a person or a group of people, we are experiencing communication in the most innate, true and honest form. Technology has fragmented human communication and the only place where it isn’t is experienced in-person. We can’t get this sort of interaction through a phone call, text, snapchat (these products have been striving to be more ‘humanized” by implementing features like read receipts) but we weight the interactions on these platforms differently (i.e. phone call != text != email != a snapchat) and then make assumptions based off of the weight we’ve arbitrarily given to these interactions. Technologies like Skype and FaceTime have tried to bring us closer to this face-to-face interaction but anyone would attest to the fact that nothing beats looking into someone’s eyes and reading their body language, their facial movements, their energy, their happiness, their sadness, their innocence, their deceit.
Google Glass blocks this interaction. When you sit across the table with someone with Glass, you aren’t captivated by their eyes but are staring into a piece of technology that only the user can see into.
For this reason, I believe Google Glass (or any of it’s competitors) will not become mainstream until you cannot see the technology or when it becomes “invisible” or seamless. Will this technology take the form of contacts, a chip in our brains or an invisible cloak? Only time will tell but I will make a safe bet that we won’t see an entire restaurant full of people in Montana wearing Glass anytime soon.
P.S. My Glass arrived yesterday and I plan to use it de-fragment human communication via technology because as we stretch into the future, technology is going to become even more omnipresent and we need to figure out ways to not get lost in all of it and proliferate the human connection.