Google Glass: Why it is awesome and why it really isn’t

Google’s project Glass is nothing short of revolutionary. It is one of the gadgets that’s really fascinated and frustrated me at the same time.

Using Google’s powerful cloud and search services, augmented reality, the connected smartphones’ data, and incredibly amazing engineering, Glass was the biggest innovation to wearable computing that showed a lot of promise.

With Google Glass, a heads-up display or HUD, users wear sunglasses or eyeglasses that have a small screen that projects notifications, weather, and location information; manages incoming calls; enables voice and video conferencing; and also allows users to shoot images and video right from their Glass.

Then there’s the app ecosystem, the lifeblood of Glass’ future. There are various fitness apps that can stream real-time data; translation apps that can help travelers on the fly; navigation, mapping, and social media extensions as well. Google Glass has a lot going for it and there are reasons why we love it.

It’s potentially powerful. Imagine the possibilities. Using Glass during medical surgeries to give a point-of-view look to various medical specialists around the world who can consult in real-time. Covering global news events with Glass, military ops, search and rescue, motorsports, engineering, education, film and TV. Skies the limit.

Cross platform. Running Android, Google Glass is surprisingly cross platform and can be connected to both Android and iOS phones.

It’s Google-backed.  This is one of Google’s big “moonshot” projects that the company is backing in terms of money and development so we can expect lots of support.

Nothing comes close. There are dozens of Google Glass pretenders in the market that are trying to make a bid for a piece of the pie. Many are cheaper alternatives but at the same time offer way less functionality than what Glass—which is on its second generation—offers.

These are all great reasons to love and support Google Glass. But while these are valid and some people will no doubt find some of these reasons good enough to enroll in the program, there are more reasons to reconsider Glass.

It’s an expensive beta product. Glass is nowhere near finished and anyone spending US$1,500 for a pair has to realize that they are paying to test and debug Glass for Google with no guarantee that they will get anything in return. I’ve also heard many users got tired of their Glass units within days and judging from all the used Glass devices on eBay, this sounds about right.

The creep factor. Let’s face it, Google Glass may be cool but no other gadget has raised as many red flags as Glass for potential privacy issues, spying, and pervs taking inappropriate photos—among other things. Glass has earned the ire of restaurants, which have banned it; the police, which have arrested people for wearing Glass while driving; and various institutions, which see Glass as an invasion of privacy.

It looks funny, even on models. There’s nothing much anyone can do about this but wearing Google Glass makes anyone look like a dork. Two years in and that hasn’t changed. I’ve seen people avoid sitting next to users of Glass, which seems to make them the new digital pariahs.

It’s still a Google product. Google is an advertising company first and foremost and what fuels their billion-dollar business is that they can grab massive user preferences and data. Is Glass just another means to track users in order to sell potential ads?

So, Google Glass is a great idea with real-world possibilities and potentially revolutionary applications in a number of areas. For it to become viable, it has to become way cheaper, be available outside the U.S., look less dorky, and be more accepted by society.

All of these things are possible in time and it can make Glass a truly viable wearable computing platform that could kick start a revolutionary new way to see, share, and interact with others.

About The Author

Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Gadjo is a freelance journalist based in Toronto. He has covered technology, business and lifestyle for a variety of publications. He currently a technology columnist for international magazines, newspapers and websites.