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Aidan Hiljeh

Google Glasses Seek an Audience (and Justification)

Apr 23 2012, 03:55 PM by

Google aims to change the world one new technology at a time. But for all its success, the internet giant seemingly has just as many failed innovations. One concept that looks to be riding along that fine line of success or failure is the new experiment known as Project Glass.
Feast for the Eyes
Apparently Google wants to expand its portfolio and jump into the business of sexy specs. In early April, the company released a video introducing a pair of futuristic-looking wraparound glasses it is currently developing in the lab. But these aren’t your ordinary shades. The Google brand of glasses is being groomed to deliver all of its web services directly to the user’s face. That’s right. From taking pictures and retrieving directions to reading eBooks and striking up video chats, these glasses will supposedly be like wearing your PC or smartphone on your eyes.

The mixed response to Project Glass has not been at all surprising considering the concept we’re dealing with here. On one side, you have people who are thrilled about the idea and can’t wait to get their hands on a pair of the slick, augmented reality shades. On the other, you have critics who believe that Google will have a hard time going anywhere with the concept. Then in the middle are your observers who feel that the glasses are downright ridiculous and have responded accordingly with ridicule.

Are the skeptics wrong to doubt Project Glass? Absolutely not. After all, new concepts in the tech sector fail all the time. Just ask Google. The internet giant looked to be on to something big with its web-based collaboration tool Wave, but despite the initial positive press, it just failed miserably in the end. Then there was Buzz, which was even hyped up by some as a potential “Facebook killer.” Sadly for Google, a sloppily executed launch and subsequent lawsuits stemming from privacy violations grounded Buzz before it could ever really take flight.
Challenges for Google Glasses
So what challenges are standing in the way of Google’s glasses becoming a hit? There are actually several, but we’ll start with these:

Privacy Fears - Google is no stranger to privacy issues, and it is sure to have even more to deal with if Project Glass goes from concept to reality. Although nothing is official, there has already been talk of notifications, advertisements and other potentially intrusive elements coming into play. Based on the current state of unrest, easing the privacy concerns of the user will be one of Google’s top priorities.

Justification - Google’s trendy glasses are undoubtedly cool, but how useful are they? While the introductory video was revealing, it didn’t necessarily do a good job of selling a reason why we should jump on the bandwagon. Making a fashion statement may not be enough when we already have PCs, smartphones and tablets to choose from.

Early Adopters - When it is all said and done, it will be early adopters, the geeks who are quick to pick up the latest in technological innovation, that decide the fate of Project Glass. If the first people to take the test drive are raving about these things with positive reviews, their feedback will lead to an increased interest from the public. But if Google fails to make a good impression, its glasses could end up alongside Froogle, Answers and other flopped innovations.

There was a time when both smartphones and tablet computers seemed like novelty concepts that would never work. Are Google glasses a glimpse into the future of computing, or another failure waiting to happen? Let us know what you think.

Posted in Tech Editorial

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