Google has consistently made a name for itself through its relentless and creative pioneering of technology, gadgets, and, of course, its search engine that went public in 2004. The company’s latest and greatest is an eyeglass frame that allows users to take pictures and video, access maps, and interact with their smartphone. But for such an engaging debut with Glass, it is questionable whether or not Google has made a product that will sit well with the world.
Product testing on Google Glass began in 2012, and the company’s I/O department, along with selected testers, began using prototypes in April 2013. This initial version of the Glass was made available to the testers for $1500. Google mentioned that the first rollout of the consumer version would be made available for significantly less, but after Tuesday’s debut of the product, that does not appear to be the case.
Many folks are inadvertently calling the product “Google Glasses,” when in fact, the reason the product has its name is because of the transparent display mechanism that sits just above the user’s right eye. This piece of the apparatus, which looks like a small chunk of glass, is how the product landed its name. While the entire structure of the gadget still maintains the shape and familiar wear of an eyeglass frame, it does not exactly appeal on the same aesthetic level.
The word is that Warby Parker, an eyeglass company that specializes in providing lower cost frames as well as a donated pair of glasses for each purchase, is planning on teaming up with Google soon to create more visually-pleasing frames for Glass. This is sure to help Google not only increase the level of engagement with Glass, but also help Warby Parker create opportunities to win new customers.
Amidst all the flurry of technology excitement, however, the broad scope of user engagement with Glass makes Google seem as though the speed of their debut might have been a bit questionable. Take Cecilia Abadie, for example, a California woman who was arrested for driving a bit too fast, but then given another citation for her wearing of Google Glass while driving. Even though it was found that she was not operating Glass in any way while driving, therefore winning the court battle, it still seemed an unnecessary involvement with the law.
A host of Google supporters were pressing her through social media to take the issue to court, and were no doubt enthusiastic with the results. However, this will surely not be the only incident of its kind in years to come. Technology is being developed and pushed to market at such a rapid pace that other measures must be implemented for future products to be successful on a global scale, lest more headaches arise from the business, legal and tech development fields alike.
These instantaneous cultural changes often reach further than how the developers of such technology imagine they will, or at least scope out, in the beginning. Seattle, Washington is just one of a number of growing locations that are either viewing the gizmo cautiously or banning it altogether. The U.S. was the only country allowed to take part in the initial run of Google Glass for consumers. It appears that it will take people longer than expected to warm up to the technology, if only for reasons personal and private.
Furthermore, it is worth questioning whether or not such technology truly adds value to our lives in the ways that we desire it to. Inventions are meant to make our lives simpler, but often times, they can deplete time and energy that could have been spent elsewhere, bringing us greater happiness through a different result. We have to be mindful of how far we go out of our way to purchase or use technology that does not directly enhance the quality of our living, in meaningful ways.
One aspect of Google Glass that most people are sure to appreciate is the interactive maps feature, a function that will insure people hardly ever get lost again. There is no doubt that the gadget will continue to have more functions and operations programmed into its small frame as the company moves forward. While the success of Glass’ debut has been questionable, there is no doubt that Google will continue to make its products engaging.
Opinion by Brad Johnson