THE BLOG

Is Google Glass the Future? Yes!

23/06/2014 17:01 BST | Updated 23/08/2014 10:59 BST

If you're judging Glass on the same terms as other gadgets, say tablets or phones, there's no argument: even Google knows this isn't a mainstream commercial product. The big G has priced most people out of the market for precisely that reason.

And yes, Glass MK Minus-One is big and clunky with a bad battery, undeniably wedged between the future and the past in the 'uncanny valley', or what in this case might be labelled 'looking like a wally cavern'.

But think more broadly, and you'll see that Google's vision of what Glass can become is genuinely inspiring. More importantly, it is also simple.

Our phones, tablets and watches, Google says, want us to look down. Glass wants us look up. To see the information that matters, to ignore the rest, and look through it and back at the real world, our friends and the landscape. It wants to present us with useful information when we need it most, and literally disappear at all other times, and fulfil what is usually the definition of good service.

'Glass is intrusive'. Is it? Is seeing a call, email or text incoming, and dismissing it with a gesture, not better, innately, (if it works) than feeling a buzzing in your pocket, retrieving your phone and pressing manically at it to make it stop? Or - worse - leaving it on a table 'just in case' it rings?

'Glass is anti-privacy'. Again, is it? No, it's not recording all the time. No, it's explicitly not using facial recognition. It is just - like all cameras - a tool, to be used with consent, sparingly, to tell stories. And arguably different and more compelling stories than is possible with a phone in your pocket.

That's the vision of Glass. It is not there yet. What stands in its way is partly technological. But really, the bigger obstacle is the process of social negotiation, experiment and learning which over time will settle on a definition of how this tech - which in some form is surely inevitable - can and will be used.

And that's precisely the point of the Explorer programme.

Google is a company built out of algorithms, generated by human minds and processed and learned and honed by machines. The difference in the case of Glass, is that the algorithm that needs to be refined is not maths - it's us. Google needs to learn what form this product should take. How it will be used and accepted, and where the borders can be pushed. Google Glass is a great idea. The Explorer programme will help realise it in the real world.

The smartphone revolution is complete, but - as ever in human history - there are new horizons to explore. Glass is one of those boundaries. VR is another. Electric vehicles are another. Isn't that, surely, something to celebrate? Let's embrace them, criticise them, refine them. But let's not dismiss them. Let's instead take Google's advice, and try it - and see.