I tried on a pair of Google Glass for approximately five minutes about a year ago. I felt like an idiot. I looked like an idiot.
But I knew that at some point in the next three to five years, there would an iteration of Glass (or something from a competitor) that would feel as natural as wearing a pair of Ray-Bans. Or even better (or worse depending on your perspective), Google Glass would become something that slides into your eye like a contact lense. It’s hard to argue that something like that isn’t coming, it’s just a matter of when.
This week marked the end of an experiment for Google, and as of yesterday, the first version of Google Glass is no longer available for purchase. The move will naturally be fodder for tech pundits and contrarians who will make declarations about its success or failure. Some will call it a great triumph, others will call it a gigantic misfire. I think the verdict falls somewhere in the middle. But what about the future?
From a consumer standpoint, Google Glass was a PR mess, from idiots who refused to remove them in restaurants, using freedom of speech or expression as a crutch, to the simple fact that just being around someone wearing them made you feel as if you were under a creeper microscope. It was nearly impossible to accept any benefits of such a device, simply because the mere appearance of it was so polarizing.
However, Google Glass proved to be a much more worthy tool in specialized industries such as medicine, where doctors used it during surgical procedures. It’s also been a hit in warehouse environments, dramatically improving how workers can access information while keeping both hands free, which will probably get your package to you faster one day, if it hasn’t already.
That said, we’re still getting a new and hopefully improved design of Google Glass when the consumer edition arrives, and I’m excited and a little terrified of what the next few iterations will look like. These feelings have only intensified after watching a show like Black Mirror, which features a Google Glass-esque retinal implant that records everything you do from birth, allowing you to “review” and revisit any moment of your life.
Does that make you terrified about privacy? Don’t worry, Black Mirror has us covered there, too. The holiday special “White Christmas” featured technology that basically takes the act of blocking someone to a whole new, hilariously depressing level. Sure, we had the smoldering presence of Jon Hamm to soften the blow, but if you think this technology won’t ever become a reality in some form, you’re kidding yourself.
It remains to be seen if the future version of Google Glass will be surgically infused, or if human blocking will be one of its features, but as wearable technology becomes more present and intrusive in everyday life, the measures to counteract that intrusiveness will be just as bizarre.