Google Glass: Great, terrible, and here to stay?


posted Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 3:21 PM EDT


It's been a year of many firsts, but from a tech point of view, none has been quite as exciting -- and yet quite so divisive -- as Google Glass. First previewed in mid-2012 under the codename Project Glass, these geeky glasses made their way into the hands of a select few early adopters this year, most likely cherry-picked by Google in the hopes of a positive reception for the project. Now that year's end is arriving and Google is gradually beginning to open Glass up to the public at large, some year-end retrospectives of the experiment are appearing.

First past the post was Wired's Mat Honan, a self-professed "Glasshole" who wanted to take the tech almost everywhere he could -- even to the birth of his second child. After using glass for most of 2013, Honan's reflections make for an interesting insight into a product which, at once, he describes as "incredibly convenient" and yet "still very limited." Perhaps most telling of the problems Glass will face on the path to widespread adoption, Honan notes that Glass makes him and those around him "very uncomfortable," and provokes a mixture of passive aggressivism and downright anger in the public. More surprisingly, he reports that Glass has made him the target of bullying even among other self-professed nerds. And yet despite that and the product's teething problems, he still predicts that Glass and other wearable-computing devices are the way forward -- and soon. Read more of his thoughts here.

Google Glass is small and light, but still far from unobtrusive.

No sooner had Honan shared his thoughts than Zack Whittaker of CNET chipped in, and his thoughts on Glass seem quite different. Whittaker, too, noticed how self-conscious he became when wearing Glass, a feeling he says "never goes away." And again, he noted that it wasn't just in public, but also when surrounded by his fellow geeks that Glass made him feel this way. Like Honan, Whittaker did see a positive in that Glass' presence meant that he spent a lot less time checking his smartphone, and felt more aware of his schedule and contacts. But his concerns about privacy -- and the way Glass is perceived by the public at large -- seemed much stronger. For one thing, Glass made him realize just how much data Google possesses about his life, something that he found "a little disconcerting, if not borderline scary." And Honan's prediction is that "it will take a long time" until the public is ready for Glass. Read his thoughts on Glass here.

The Glass design is modular, allowing lenses to be added.

We're with Honan on this one, we have to say. While Glass undoubtedly has its benefits, it's easier for a geek to overlook the social awkwardness of Glass in return for its always-there nature than it will be for the public at large. After all, what can you do with Glass which can't already be done with a smartphone, and how long does it take to pull your phone from your pocket? Until there's a killer app -- and one with mainstream appeal -- Glass seems to us to be an answer in need of a problem. Once it becomes commonplace, the social awkwardness will fade, but until then Google's faced with a chicken and egg problem -- and that may well be the real reason for its exceptionally slow rollout.

But that's just our opinion. What do you think about Glass -- would you be willing to wear it on a daily basis, were the current, extremely high price not an issue? Sound off in the comments below!

Google's vision has us wearing Glass routinely, and using it to ease tasks of all kinds.