Google Glass made a big splash when it first came out, with people willingly shelling out $1500 to be the first wave of users. Then came the privacy issues and the term “Glassholes,” and the future became clouded for the Google wearable computer. The creators admitted it was not ready for the mass market, but they wanted to work out the kinks with a quiet but public test group. It was anything but quiet. Despite some successes, the device flopped. The dream was broken, but now, with Tony Fadell at the helm for the Google glass remake, it is not completely shattered.
This time, there will be no public testing. One of Fadell’s advisers told the Times “Tony is a product guy and he’s not going to release something until it’s perfect.” This is good news for anyone hoping for a new and improved Google Glass. The future is bright for the computer glasses, as well as other wearable tech.
A major positive came from bankers who had built apps for Google Glass, including heavy-hitters like Wells Fargo and US Bank. Many said their time with the device was well spent. The bank Westpac trailed consumers across New Zealand using Google Glass, learning that they preferred swipe over voice activated services. Tangerine, formerly known as ING Canada, looked at allowing consumers to check balances and transfer funds with voice activated commands on Google Glass.
Needless to say, banks still have a strong belief that wearable devices have a strong future in banking. While Google’s device may have been among the first smart wearable devices, a myriad of others are on the horizon. The banks, and many consumers, see these devices as opportunities to consider the possibilities. Many believe that being married to a single device is not in anyone’s best interest. While plans for Google Glass may be temporarily broken, the dream is not shattered.
US Bancorp’s Chief Innovation Engineer, Dominic Venturo went so far as to say Google’s announcement has “no effect” on their future plans. He believes wearable tech like Google Glass will play important specialized roles in banking’s future. Tangerine’s line of thinking is similar. Charaka Kithulegoda, their chief information officer stated that it is not about specific devices, but that it is about providing a multifaceted approach for clients to conduct their banking.
There are other hopeful signs for as well. Despite Google ultimately pulling the plug on the device for now, many positives came out of the very public experiment. They got to see what people did and did not like about it, starting with the bulky battery eyesore. They could have tried to find something more fashionable. Undoubtedly the next version will be.
Still there are concerns, and they are not limited to Google Glass. Stessa Cohen, research director at Gartner does not like the idea of wearable devices that would let bank employees know which clients just walked into their branch. While it might be useful, it gives her the creeps. It remains to be seen how much people will be willing to let devices know and especially broadcast about them. The first version of Google Glass may be broken, but the future of wearable tech is not a shattered mess.
By Varon Laub
Photo Courtesy of Royal Opera House Covent Garden – Flickr License