Ubiquitous ain't unique

Back in the 60’s, sci-fi shows predicted we’d have cars that drove themselves and robots serving our every whim by this point in time. Instead, it's our technology that appears to rule us. Slamming social media and the ‘nocialising’ that goes on in bars and cafes is terribly in vogue. We’re keener on ‘gramming our meal than consuming it, updating everyone on the where, the who with and the implied 'how much' in an attempt to prove to them we’re important and in turn somehow validate ourselves.

It's kind of relevant, then, that tech companies are now dropping devices (feat. power and memory larger than that available on a PC 20 years ago) that fit on our wrist and above our noses. This wearable 'integrated technology' is intended to be ubiquitous - it's intended to become the norm.


Photo cred: Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Today we're talking Google Glass, relevant as it finally dropped to the public (on 15th May) - albeit only the public living within the United States - for those who can afford the US$1,500 tag. At that price point, I'm positing that we're likely not talking the simple cop/drop dichotomy, but some serious consideration over a long-term investment.

Google's having some serious issues with shifting these pricey units, which is reflected by their desperate and ironic recruitment of fashion gurus to tweak the design and get them on the eyes of social influencers. It's ironic because in attempting to achieve the goal of everybody wearing these alongside their becoming relatively unobtrusive, Google is now attempting to build an offering of fashion-conscious versions. Real talk: the original is mad ugly.


Photo cred: Google

But Google isn't the only one demonstrating that early adopters of wearable tech will be lugging around obtrusive, un-aesthetic devices. Samsung's Galaxy Gear's chunky-profile watches are reminiscent of an iPod shuffle on a wrist-strap. However, it's fundamentally very different to Google Glass; people aren't so inclined to stare at your wrist whilst you're talking to them as they would to the big black camera casing sticking out of the edge of your glasses frame.

galaxy gear

Samsung Galaxy Gear - Photo cred: Mashable

Essentially, the interest with Google Glass springs from the hype the company have garnered since 2011. Further, just think about the simplicity of it all: instead of having to check your phone every few minutes (#FOMO), it's all right there in front of your eyes, always. However, some tech commentators speculate that the Glass will simply flop because it currently offers near no added functionality in place of the common smartphone given its downsides (namely: aesthetics, $1.5k investment).

Another perceived problem is the 5megapixel camera, which is available to be consistently recording, and instantly uploading, to Google's databases for easy access later. Whilst this may seem a sick way to rewind your day and listen to that joke again, or recover that night you drank way too much, some see it as a big privacy issue. One of the top comments on the Hypebeast article announcing the availability of Google Glass to the public stated, "Everyone who wears these is a walking snitch." In a post-Snowden world, Google Glass concrete-ises the surveillance state coming ever closer to a reality, where citizens contribute to the Five Eye's valuable meta-data cloud.

With this in mind, it doesn't seem so outrageous that there's been multiple cases of people assaulted simply for wearing Google Glass. There's been theft/muggings, and attacks seemingly just for the sake of it. Through social media, the responses to this news gauge that the majority of people find this quite funny; Glass is not seen on par with any other type of good or technology a person may carry, but as a bragging toy that people are jealously happy to see snatched.


The first prototype of 2011 weighed 3.6kg, but the accessory is now lighter than the average pair of sunglasses. Ivy Ross, Glass' new Executive Director, and former head at Calvin Klein, Coach, Disney and Mattel, is leading the assault to make the device cool and trendy. Whilst talking to Glass involves the all sorts of nifty technological advancement (such as communication via ‘bone conduction transducer’),  I'm currently not convinced we'll see too many people wandering around with them on while it continues to isolate its wearers as one of the nerds.

It's currently not ubiquitous - but if it does achieve such, it loses potential as a fashion icon. This is Google's Catch-22.


Image cred: Mashable