Published on 16 Jan 2015

Google Glass – the transparent truth

If you were itching to get your hands on a pair of Google Glasses your luck just ran out: the company’s announced it’s not selling them to the public any more, and the project will become a research-only gig.

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I suspect there’ll be a lot of Google-bashing in the ensuing coverage. Personally I’m not crowing about the project’s lack of success, but from the beginning I’ve doubted its ability to break through.

The specs I tried were too heavy for continuous use, too hot, and the display too tiny and too peripheral to my vision. I also questioned why they needed frames at all: a better solution surely would be a clip-on version that can be mounted at will on to a user’s own glasses? (non-specs wearers would have to get a clear-lens pair, of course…).

Fundamentally, had it not been Google behind this technology it would’ve remained a trade show quirk. But the amount of column inches indicates that something about it grabbed the public imagination.

Many tech commentators saw this disproportionate coverage and lumped it together with their own predictions of a boom in “wearable tech”. I think that’s misplaced, as the weak take-up of devices like fitness bands and smart watches has shown.

I think Glass tapped into a deeper trend: our growing ability to capture and stream (although Glass lacked the latter ability) video and audio from our daily lives. I believe we’re on the nursery slopes with this one: services like Bambuser allow phone owners to transmit live video, and it’s only a matter of time before we can access millions of streams of video instantly.

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