Google Glass (Image Source Influxis.com)
On 15th of April 2014, for a single day only and in a limited number, tech-enthusiastic American consumers had the opportunity to purchase Google Glass Explorer, Google’s prototype device, at the cost of USD$1,500 (£894).
This has been the first instance when Google offered its device for sale to anyone across the United States, previously, having been available only via special invitation through its exclusive Explorer Program of prototype testers.
But even though it has been regarded as a pioneer in the era of wearable communication technology on its first testing in 2012, Google Glass has been in the centre of pro and anti-technology debates with a growing movement firmly opposing the use of it.
Google Glass (Image Source KnowYourMobile.com ).
Google Glass’ design, closely resembles a standard pair of eyeglasses which possesses a small optical display, shaped as a glass prism.
It is connected to the user’s smartphone via “Wi-Fi” or “Bluetooth” being designed for micro-interactions, via a touchpad that runs from the user’s temple to ear, or by “hands-free” voice command/actions.
But even though the device mirrors the abilities of many existing smartphones in the market today, it still possesses seven individual core functions.
Google Glass is able to record video, take photos, perform Web searches, navigate and get directions, send texts, make phone calls and instant message or video chat with contacts via Google Hangouts
Being able to be operated via voice actions, the device offers potential uses in the assistance of various types of clients.
Several conceptual uses have been proposed for Google Glass in education, emergency response and in healthcare.
For example, the Glass is being tested by educators, firefighters, police officers, doctors and surgeons among others.
One interesting example of its usefulness in healthcare is in Newcastle University.
Doctors at the university are trialling Glass to help patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
In collaboration with its users, the doctors have developed a programme that will remind patients to take their medication and to also swallow or speak up; behaviours that can prevent debilitating episodes of paralysis known as ‘freezing.’
From GPS to smartphones to personal computers and to the internet itself, the development of new computing technologies has almost always taken place exclusively in the realms of government, military and business.
So not everyone has praised Google’s more public approach into the exploration of more potential uses and usefulness of the device.
Several businesses have already begun pre-emptively banning it, a number of campaigns sprang, like “Stop the cyborgs” which encouraging businesses to ban Google Glass over concerns about surveillance and invasion of privacy, anti-surveillance group campaigns, and even a software subscription service called Anti-Glass.
The strongest backlash Glass received, has been from a social standpoint.
The rise of a derogatory nickname — “Glasshole” is one such example of the social stigma that has come to be attached to users of Glass.
To try and combat that way of thinking, Google has revealed its own Top 10 Google Glass Myths.
Concerns of social etiquette, electronic surveillance, invasion of privacy and other implications of misused have been prevalent in any discussion concerning Google Glass.
It also became a symbol of class division and gentrification.
Business Insider reporter Kyle Russell wrote about how “a mugger snatched his Google Glass off his face” and then smashed it into the ground while he was travelling through San Francisco’s Mission district.
Though initially confused at the scathing and negative reactions he had received in the wake of the incident, Russell was somewhat understanding of the feelings — writing that “anything associated with Google has come to represent gentrification in the city” thus acknowledging that he should have taken off his Glass.
Users rely heavily on broadcast technology, social media, mobile devices, video games and other innovations to enrich themselves whether in a business setting on in their personal lives.
Google or any company that is pushing wearable technology as evolutionary in the realm of communication technology have not yet effectively defined the utility of devices like smartwatches and heads-up displays, at least for general consumer use. Are they a necessity or a novelty?
In the case of Google Glass, the use of the device can in fact, come across all too often as over gratuitous consumption.
With such a high price tag labelled onto a product that is technically still in development, experts and general consumers alike are questioning the logic behind the desire to purchase Google Glass Explorer.
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