Has any device has ever created more controversy before it has even gone on sale? Despite the media circus swirling around every new step in the development of Google Glass; the device has just started to ship to developers in the last couple of weeks. The vast majority of us have not only never used Glass, most of us haven’t even met anyone who has. So why does Google Glass inspire so much fervent love on one hand while causing others to spew venom and hatred on the other? The answer can be summed up in one word: new.
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Google Glass is a new way of interacting with technology, and that tends to frighten people. But one thing that isn’t new is people freaking out about every new way of using technology to make life easier or a little more interesting. When I was a youngster it was moms panicking over kids watching too much TV. “It will melt your brain and make you go blind!” Remember that? Next it was video games turning kids into zombies, then personal computers were nothing but portals for molesters to reach into your home and snatch away your child. We all remember the dire predictions from “experts” about how we would all walk off cliffs while talking on our cell phones, and how wide spread use of smart phones was causing cancer. All of these panic-inducing predictions all have two things in common:
1. They are the reaction of a frightened world to something new that it doesn’t really understand yet.
2. They are all full of crap.
I don’t know if Google Glass is going to change the way that we interact with technology forever. I know it might; it could; it has the potential to be revolutionary, and that is exciting. Those of us who think Google Glass is a cool idea are enthusiastic about the idea of changing how we use our smart phones. We are not necessarily dead-set on using Google Glass the day it goes on sale.
Google Glass is increasingly being compared to wearing a Bluetooth headset while out in public. Something that is generally considered rude/dorky. Maybe society will reject wearable technology outright. I don’t know, but neither do you. Maybe Google Glass will be an epic flop, but it could be that a couple of years later a new type of technology will make a device that looks a lot like Glass viable and popular. Think of how the first Palm Pilots and smart phones were considered a fringe product for nerdy tech-enthusiasts. Just a few years later our grand parents are purchasing smart phones because suddenly the formerly dorky device is a necessity to live in our modern world.
Nothing is popular before it is. Just because Glass is seeing a backlash from some doesn’t mean that society will reject it. The backlash just means that Glass is new. On the other hand just because tech lovers like me think Google Glass is a cool idea doesn’t mean that it is about to change the way we use technology forever… but maybe it will.
The “wait and see” argument is never the popular one in a world of instant gratification, but that is exactly what we all need to do while Google Glass is refined and developed. Google Glass might be the next big thing or it might be a novelty, but either way I’m excited to see what the future holds for those of us who love technology.