We’ve been irreversibly spoiled, it seems. Apparently, it has been too long since Apple launched its last market-changing device. The anxiety is causing its stock to fall (it dropped more than 40% over the last seven months), and the quarterly profits of the iPhone maker went downwards for the first time in a decade, the company reported.
Apple is almost certainly working on something new, and speculations abound: a television, a game console, and a smart watch are among the most popular guesses. However, the currently most expected new tech-device is not from Apple, but Google: an internet-connected eyewear known as the Google Glass.
The main idea of the Google Glass is to provide easy access to information of the kind offered by a smartphone, as well as a camera conveniently located for videos. The concept has been around for a while, such as in a ski goggle made by Oakley, for instance, which displays speed, altitude, and incoming text messages.
At first, technologies like the Google Glass seem appealing. For anyone who tried to type a message while walking on the street, it would be interesting to interact with a computer via voice, having visual feedback at the corner of a glass. But while this would prevent people from weirdly walking holding a piece of rectangular glass with two hands, it wouldn’t prevent them from looking like a zombie.
As it turns out, the human visual system cannot focus on two things simultaneously. Speaking of the mentioned ski googles, neuroscientist David Strayer, who for decades studied attention and distraction, warned: “you are effectively skiing blind; you’re going to miss a mogul or hit somebody.” Smart glasses undoubtedly present a risk, whether in practicing some sport, walking on the street, or driving.
The second issue is with purpose. If you look at Google Glass’ website, you’ll see an advertisement campaign centered at the word “share.” Let alone the fact that the term has become a cliche, sharing is only really appealing to people who perform activities where first-person movie-recording is minimally interesting. I mean, if you’re a skydiver or a circus artist, than maybe the Google Glass is for you, otherwise your video won’t get that many “likes” or “+1’s.”
Last, and most important, there’s the concern with privacy. As the Google Glass has a camera, most users will cause others to frown, for they’ll be rightly afraid of being filmed.
Though versions for developers are already available, the hyped Google eyewear is not expected to reach the general market soon, Google’s Eric Schmidt said last month. When it does, I doubt it’s going to be of much success, except perhaps for a niche market. A market for people who like to look cool and record first-person perspectives of the accidents they get involved in.
(A version of this article appeared in Washington Square News.)