Saturday, 18 May 2013

Google Glass

I want to do a little bit of thinking about Google Glass - the tech world's most talked-about new gadget. What I find so strange about Glass (aside from its weird appearance) is that after getting excited about how futuristic it looks,  most people don't seem to understand what it is for.

In many ways, Glass offers very little by way of 'newness'. It takes photos. It responds to voice command and touch control. It syncs information with other devices. It answers questions. Essentially, it does everything that your smartphone does just in a variety of different ways: 'Google's idea is that Glass will integrate all the benefits of the web into human interaction  but will less conspicuous and less of a barrier than a mobile phone' (Matt Warman, 'Through A Glass Brightly', The Telegraph, 13th May 2013).

Firstly, Glass isn't yet affordable. Secondly, the glasses are hugely conspicuous - although once everyone has a pair (as Google anticipates), they will probably become more normal. Thirdly, more uses are going to have to be created and designed for the gadget. As this last point suggests, a lot of more innovative and revolutionary software (to match the hardware) is to come - and soon. At the moment, Glass symbolises the start of the next chapter in social and commercial tech development and use - consumer behaviour changes, personal archive development and (of course) everyday tech-culture integration will all become increasingly evident in the next few years as devices (like Glass) become more accessible. By minimising the interface between technology (internet in particular) and people, the ever-developing social issues currently being researched are only set to become more complicated. Whilst there is absolutely no stopping new technology's development, I really hope that the problematic cultural areas of our Western society have enough time to work out the effects of informational changes on our lives. Blurring the boundaries between the virtual and the physical (like Glass does) is sure to have some unsettling effects on the way we interact with our environment(s).

Matt Warman, Consumer Technology Editor at The Telegraph