Even though Google Glass has not been widely released to the general public (you currently have to apply to be a $1,500 “explorer”), it has already spawned a heated debate about how we incorporate technology in our lives. In other words, as a recent New York Times article asked, are they cool or creepy?
I vote creepy.
Why? Wearing Google Glass is the antithesis of mindfulness. Instead of focusing on the present moment, the ability to have an augmented reality segregates your mental and physical state. Talking to a person wearing Google Glass can be a disorienting experience. Are they talking to you or their Glass? Are they finding out information about you while having a conversation? Are they present?
A few weeks ago I got into a conversation with a woman wearing Glass. Or, should I say, I tried to get into a conversation. While she was sitting alone and projected availability to converse, I never really knew. It was a few awkward minutes of, can I talk to her?
Every so often I would hear her utter, “Okay Glass.”
Finally I wiggled my way into a conversation. She mentioned that being in the East Coast (Connecticut), where Glass is much less common, she was getting a lot of odd stares. Google is obviously betting that over time you will start accepting augmented reality as normal instead of potentially antisocial.
I wouldn’t bet on it.
Although I am a fan of many of Google’s products, Glass is headed to be the next Segway. Or flat-line in its adopted use like Bluetooth headsets. It will be embraced by industrial fields and potentially the service industry, but the general public will continue to have a negative visceral reaction to the mental confusion it brings.
Confusion is creepy.