Trapped by Technology

It was a liberating and promising tech but Google Glass ultimately trapped me in reactions like this.

Check these two out, he’s oblivious, but she spots me like I'm from another f’ing planet…and some reactions were much worse than that.

I had too many uncomfortable moments wearing Glass and eventually left it at home on my desk. It was Google technology built for people, instead of machines, and was intended to stop us from looking down constantly at our phones. But it made everyone look instead at the Explorers and usually not in a good way (Glass Explorers were the beta testers of Google’s wearable tech — bleeding-edge tech geeks and me).

As Google Glass closes its Explorer program everything I have to say about wearing a computer on your head, I did for WIRED in 2013. Before I stopped wearing Glass, I did capture interesting POV videos and photos with it, and shared most of those on G+, like this Strip ride. The creative workflow for a blogger was remarkable and Google did an excellent job with the Explorers themselves, it failed because…

it was a computer on your head.

Socially, a little silver box recording video is OK and I’d recommended in my Wired article and to Google that they redirect the design effort to action cams and do something absolutely remarkable, like voice-activated, hands-free POV. Maybe that’s what they're doing. In their email to Explorers, they promised another version at some time in the future, and maybe to capture moments like this.

During an adrenaline-rush moment on a Park City trail, I was pedaling downhill on a thin strip of single track with hip-high grass pulling at the handlebars. Don't look right, lean left, pedal. And breathe. Getting through that section unhurt and alive, I paused and said, “Ok, Glass. Take a picture.”

I’m sure the reactions to Glass were very frustrating to the Explorer dev team. The distractions were just too much, even in a city like London where Glass hadn’t launched yet. Security spotted me in churches and castles. I’m not a spy, just a blogger with a bike.

London through Glass

The Glass team likely made a marketing error by launching it first with alpha geeks, not realizing that consumers don't aspire to or want to look like Robert Scoble. The team later got Glass on the runway and into the hands and on the heads of celebrities. The Explorer program certainly did achieve the goals of getting different perspectives, stabilizing, and socializing the tech.

Glass with a cycling cap.

The world just wasn't ready and isn't likely to accept the computer on your head form factor. What I hope isn't lost and we'll see again in more discrete hardware is the OS — what I called glanceable computing. So much of what’s on our phones now is distracting instead of enhancing our days, and I have little interest in the current crop of wearables that act like a phone satellite.

More media I made with Glass:

And the Wired story….

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