Wearable technology vs. society, fight of the future

If you didn’t buy your set of Google Glass, you’re too late.

Cole Benz | Editor
Cole Benz | Editor

Cole Benz | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

If you didn’t buy your set of Google Glass, you’re too late. Google announced that they would be suspending sales of their wearable tech eyewear on Jan. 19.

Google Glass is a piece of hardware that you place on your face like glasses. It has a small screen over the right eye that shows a display with multiple, voice-activated functions. Augmented reality.

Though the beta sale of Google Glass wasn’t as successful as company execs probably would have wanted, it did do a good job of starting an interesting social conversation.

Where does wearable technology fit into mainstream society?

Google Glass was unique in the fact that Google made it available to the consumers very early in its development.

They called them ‘Explorers.’

It was a very interesting strategy by them; they allowed the public to do some of its research and development by giving them a very raw piece of hardware and said ‘go for it.’

It’s an incredibly ingenious method to improve a tech product. Make it available to millions of gadget geeks around the world who are just dying to pick it apart and figure out its capabilities.

But it didn’t come without controversy.

The first concern mainstream society raised was the privacy issue.

Google Glass allowed instantaneous video recording, with very little action required. You only need to give a voice command or press a little button, a far cry from having to dig out a phone from your pocket and hold it up as you record. This same feature allows you to take a photo at the blink of an eye…literally, a blink of an eye.

I understand where this can be a cause of concern. I wouldn’t want to be recorded unknowingly, even if it was at a public place.

Another concern with this ‘easy-to-record’ feature is the movie industry. Many theaters have already banned the used of wearable technology, fearing the explosion of another piracy problem.

See Napster, year 1999-2001.

The problem with Google Glass is that technology is moving faster than the laws can keep up with it. We haven’t had time to establish legal boundaries so that society and technology can live peacefully together.

Another hindrance of Google Glass and some wearable technology is the fashion faux pas. It’s not very pretty. Those who did wear them were called ‘Glassholes.’ It’s obvious that the person is wearing something different, and it raised more eyebrows than questions.

I’m not sure this will last though. I attribute it to when Bluetooth headsets infiltrated mainstream society. Though not accepted largely at first, and even today seeing someone wearing it while walking around the mall doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But seeing the driver next to you with a headset on is now seen as responsible.

Could this be Google Glass’s future? Responsible driving? We’ll see.

Though Google Glass wasn’t the mainstream hit Google wanted it to be (it might just be ahead of it’s time for now), it hasn’t proved that wearable technology is a failure.

For me, the most successful piece of wearable tech has been the smart watches. The market is inundated with multiple choices of looks and brands to choose from, and they can all make our lives a little easier without sticking out like a sore thumb.

These devices don’t intend to replace smart phones; rather they are there to supplement smart phones.

If you’re in a meeting and you receive a call, instead of pulling out your phone you can simply ignore it from your wrist.

Though some come with cameras and it could be argued that it has the same privacy issues as Google Glass, but I don’t buy it.

In order to get a clear shot with the smart watch camera you need to hold your wrist up and out, someone walking around with their forearm parallel to their shoulder blades is much more obvious that someone give you a glance.

It’s hard to tell if society has been more accepting of the smart watch than Google Glass, but one thing is for sure, if you can disguise a wearable tech device with a little class and some fashion sense, it’s a good start.

At this point the smart watches could be written off as a novelty, an expensive toy perhaps. But who among us didn’t want a Dick Tracy radio watch, or for those in my generation, a Power Rangers communicator. I know I did.

So maybe Google Glass is like that kid who cannon balls into the cold lake, and wearable technology really needs to act like the other kid who slowly walks in and gradually gets used to the temperature, until finally they both have reached the same point.

The only difference is the first kid’s struggle to adjust to such a drastic change, while the other got comfortable before dipping his head under water.

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