Last week I got my first chance to try on the Google Glass, thanks to the incredibly patient teenage son of a friend. This young man is a budding app developer who has been testing his out for a few months now, and he is definitely not a Glasshole.
To all the skeptics out there who think the Google Glass is creepy, or say, “You’ll never catch me dead in a pair of those,” I have to say you may want to try them before you make up your mind.
For one thing, they are much more subtle in real life than they appear in photos. I thought they looked less Borg-like and more fashionable than I expected. Perhaps it’s a little strange to have a teenager wink at you to take your picture, but you can still make complete eye contact with someone wearing them; there isn’t the Glassy-eyed stare or feeling of being looked right through that would automatically set off my “creepy” alarm bells.
The thing that surprised me the most was the screen. It was smaller and much less distracting than I thought it would be. I scrolled through some basketball game scores and found it refreshing that all I got was the score. We don’t realize how much visual noise we filter out in every interaction with technology today. Google Glass gave me just the essential bit of info I needed with no noise, and I really liked that.
There has been a lot of buzz from SXSW this week about wearable technologies and how marketers can capitalize on this fast growing trend. Before seeing what the Google Glass experience was really like, I pictured thousands of art directors poking their eyes out as they had to create smaller and smaller banner ads to fit on bracelets and toe rings and tiny little displays that hover close to your eyeball. But of course that’s ridiculous. What is interesting about wearables isn’t about how to turn them into the world’s tiniest display ad space, it is thinking about connected, multi-channel experiences and how devices can become more in-tune to our choices and behaviors.
If I check out the basketball game scores via Glass on the train going home, then when I open up my tablet after dinner my first push notification might be highlight videos from the games, a reminder to check my March Madness brackets, and a link to my university’s ticket sales. Marketers who are already working to link social, mobile, web, email and “real world” experiences for multi-channel campaigns are laying the groundwork for being able to come up with compelling strategies and tactics for that day when wearables are as ubiquitous as a pair of sunglasses.
I am convinced that it is only a matter of time before devices like Google Glass become mainstream. My young friend says he wears them all the time even during class, which surprises me, but although I suspect his school’s technology policies will be getting a “wearables” clause added in the future, it just goes to show that even teachers aren’t finding them distracting or intrusive, and a younger generation is finding them an essential accessory.
As much as I love technology and get excited about new gadgets, I am absolutely not an early adopter. I am simply too cheap to be first. So my own pair of GGs will be a long way off in the future, but when they start to cost $150 instead of $1,500, I predict I’ll own some too.