Google is known for spawning a variety of unusual but often ground-breaking inventions, from the popular GMail to the failed Wave. Adding to the list are Google glasses and driverless cars, which are facing some opposition from analysts, theaters and consumer groups. Knowing the company’s optimistic attitude, however, it is unlikely they will yield with their latest gadgets.
Traditionally, Google has been centered around virtual technology. Starting off as a search engine in 1998, the company grew rapidly with a variety of additional services. GMail, a replacement for traditional email clients, Drive, a cloud-based file storage, or Google Maps, interactive atlas with convenient navigation features, are just an example of the many areas the company branched out to. It has established itself as the leader in the technological market.
Now, the tech giant is moving from the virtual into the tangible with two ground-breaking projects. Google Glasses will get rid of the need to nervously keep digging the iPhone out of the pocket, displaying the time, GPS navigation, to-do lists, or notes right in front of one’s eyes. The list of potential GlassApps is constantly growing. The driverless cars, too, will rid people of the burden of having to stay focused on the road, allowing to take a nap during the tiresome commute from work, or engage in a long phone conversation.
However, both Google glasses and driverless cars are facing opposition. The glasses have long been called ridiculous by economic and tech analysts at Forbes and Computer World. They were criticized for poor design and interfering with social interactions. On top of that, the Alamo Drafthouse, a theater chain known for its quirky attitude and policies, has now banned the gadget in their screening rooms. The main concern, aside from the glow-in-the-dark effect, is the ability to record the movies playing.
The driverless cars, an even more avant-garde creation, have risen several concerns as well. The DMV plans to adopt rules for self-driving cars as early as the start of 2015, but the he Community Watchdog group is pleading for them to extend the testing time to up to 18 months. They fear the new cars are a danger to other drivers and pedestrians, and require more preparation to get them ready for the public roads.
Despite these concerns, the company is pushing on, touting the new features and convenience they will bring in everyday life. Many other advocates have also spoken out, such as Robert Scoble from the web hosting company Rackspace. He called Google glasses the future. Some of Forbes writers also praised the new cars, hoping they can in fact decrease accident rates by taking away the element of human error.
It is clear that, at this point, Google has no intention to abandon their glasses and driverless cars despite all the opposition and criticism they are facing. Even if they fail, it is not necessarily a bad thing. As the BGR writer Zach Epstein points out, Google wants to fail occasionally; failures is an integral part of the creative development process, helping them filter good ideas from the bad. After all, many of their previous inventions have not done well either, such as Google Wave or Buzz. Without these, however, there might have never been a GMail or Maps in their current form. Even if the glasses and cars do not catch on, they will prove a valuable lesson the company can learn from and incorporate into their next product.
By Jakub Kasztalski