In an age where you can buy a spare kidney, a robotic personal assistant or a ticket ride into space, it’s a marvel that our lives were revolutionised by small rectangles of plastic. Yes, the smartphone is the magnum opus of early 21st century technology, but as time rattles forward how long can it hold on to its top spot?
The thing is, for those who have become addicted to instant notification gratification smartphones can be a bit unwieldy to pull out your pocket or purse at regular intervals. One solution is to just calm down and stop checking your emails every 30 seconds. The other is Google Glass.
Using the cyber specs you can check messages, make calls, use Google Maps, watch videos, browse web pages, translate dialogue, look up food recipes, solve the Eurozone Crisis – you know, the usual functionalities that you’d expect from any mobile device.
Except there’s the fact that to use Google Glass you have to keep your smartphone with you, pairing the devices via the Glass App and Bluetooth. Glass suddenly becomes another smartphone strapped to your head; smaller, cooler, but completely dependent on cellular tethering. A $1,500 network parasite. Although admittedly a very elegant one.
Before getting my hands on Google Glass, I was pretty excited about its possibilities and prospects. Having had a chance to play around with it, my reaction is one of disappointment. The screen is obtrusive and uncomfortable to look at, and despite a slicky-designed UI, the controls are clunky and unintuitive.
The biggest barrier however is simply how foolish it looks. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I would rather walk down the street naked than wearing Google Glass, but it’s not far off.
Controlling the technology with your voice is also just too unreliable, as well as embarrassing in public places, and I think this whole aspect of wearable tech is something of a cul-de-sac.
Apps like simultaneous translation service UniSpeech might promise a bright future for wearables, but the hardware just isn’t there yet. While the current iteration of Google Glass does represent some of the very first forays into smart eyewear, it is a truly useless device in its current form, nothing more than a $1,500 gimmick that will take you less than a week to get bored of.
Google Glass, as an idea, is really rather brilliant. Walking around the world with your own heads-up display (HUD) is cool. The whole experience is more immersive than a mobile phone and, if the technology takes off, we should start to see Glass-compatible ads and features as we walk through the cities of tomorrow.
I do fear for my vision though when I use it. A mere five minute session and my eye feels worn out. Never would I hold my phone that close to my face to use.
Also, it’s very stealable. A thief only has to snatch the device from your face and that’s $1,500-worth of kit running down the street away from you. It’s also conspicuous to use. I could send a text on a smartphone while sitting next to someone, but with Glass I’m going to have to say my message and interrupt the situation.
Not a fan at all. Limited functionality coupled with a $1,500 price tag doesn’t really do much for me. Oh, and it has a knack of making perfectly normal people look like idiots.
God help you if you’re willing to shell out for one. Try not to lose the receipt.