The Google Glass team is on a publicity tour, and I went down this evening to check out the latest in fashionable eyeball computers. (If you want to check it out for yourself, they've invited the public to check it out all weekend - details here.)
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You probably already know what Google Glass is, and probably already have an opinion about it. I went in feeling ambivalent and curious. I'm very interested in the technology, but from a distance the product always looked pretty half-baked. Like an R&D experiment.
So how is it to use? Well, it's fairly ridiculous. It looks goofy, it feels goofy, and it doesn't work all that well.
Actually, I take that back. Technically it works amazingly well. The fact that they can make something so small and portable do all the things that it does is incredible. It's super high-tech and fancy. The tiny floating screen is sharp, the build feels surprisingly high-end, and Google's voice processing is fast and super-accurate, the best I've seen in a consumer device. But that doesn't make me want to talk to my glasses.
But it doesn't work well in the sense that I can't think of one problem it solves. More than that, it makes doing many things that are now commonplace and reliable irritating and awkward. The problems technology solves don't have to be profound, but they do need to be actual problems. Not having my phone's interface superimposed over my vision isn't a problem I have, and I don't think it's a problem anyone has. The friendly and extremely attractive PR folks' strained stories of how they use their Glass in their day-to-day lives did little to convince me otherwise.
Eventually (and probably soon) we'll have computers built into our glasses, and then into our contacts lenses, and then into our eyeballs. (Have you seen that episode of Black Mirror? It'll be like that.) Google Glass might be the very, very early prototype of what these things will eventually be, but it's got a long way to go.
As a friend with me tonight put it, "it’s pretty much exactly what I pictured, only slightly more annoying."