You can’t follow the technology press without being aware of Google’s still under development Glass project. Recently a Verge video was published that illustrates how the video and information display functions of Glass might operate. Geeks everywhere responded with oohs and aahs.
But not everyone. Tech journalist Leo Laporte, usually a booster for most things tech, was skeptical. He likened Glass and the possible market response to what happened with the Segway: the tech was cool but for most people the “dorkiness” of the product in actual usage helped consign it to minimal and niche markets.
As much as I like technology I fear that Leo might be right on this one. I can imagine a variety of specialized niche applications for Glass but fear that wide acceptance might be hampered by Glass’ high price and potential creepiness. I can imagine, for example, sitting across from someone wearing one of these and wondering, “Is he broadcasting our conversation?” The possibility that the device will be shrunk to total invisibility for eyeglass and contact lens wearers is likewise not comforting.
But I’m NOT hoping that Glass fails. Here’s why.
Despite the overall Borg-like aspect of the potential for constant surreptitious streaming of whatever the wearer is looking at, Glass has the potential for revolutionizing how we interact with and control our technologies through a combination of movement, visual, and voice commands. As far as I’m concerned — and hoping — Glass will be another possible nail in the coffin for the keyboard and mouse.
I’m dictating this blog post via my iPhone using the Dragon dictation app. The performance of such tools has convinced me that doing away with the keyboard might be happening sooner rather than later.
The other two technologies I have similar hopes for in terms of success are Apple’s Siri and Apple’s focus on making cloud-based services consumer-friendly.
Siri has the potential for greatly simplifying how we interact via voice with very complex systems. While many rail against Apple’s “lockdown” of iOS resources, the resulting architectural stability has the positive potential for enabling the introduction of very sophisticated voice controls to complex tasks. So far I’ve been very impressed through frequent use with what I’ve seen of Siri.
Apple’s use of cloud-based services is the other service I’m looking at very closely. It’s hard enough to educate members of the “general public” into the mysteries of file location and storage space. Via iCloud, iTunes, and iMatch, Apple is introducing cloud-based storage and file access to the masses who heretofore were only familiar with local storage via hard disks and local area network folders. As difficult as some of these cloud concepts are to turn into practice I’m amazed that things have gone as smoothly as they have for me; so far, for example, I’ve transferred my entire music collection to the cloud and it’s working well.
The common thread of all three of these developments — Glass, Siri, and iCloud — is the consumerization of very complex and powerful technologies. What I think is likely to happen with all three will be a series of missteps, gradual improvement in functionality and acceptance, and — potentially — some surprising and innovative applications.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D. Dennis is a Washington DC area consultant specializing in digital strategy, project management, and technology adoption. His clients have included the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the US Environmental Protection Agency, Jive Software, the National Library of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, Social Media Today and Oracle, and the World Bank Group. His experience includes government contract research, software and database product development, system integration and consolidation, and IT strategy consulting. Contact Dennis via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 703-402-7382.