Google Glass represents the beginning stages of a revolutionary era of interactive technology. This sample essay explores the ways in which Google Glass can enhance and also dilute the human experience.
Google Glass promises a change to the way users experience their surroundings. Google’s latest innovation involves a durable transparent lens that provides some of the common features found in the latest mobile devices. Like conventional glasses, Google Glass rests upon the nose of the user, but more or less offers a “hands free” integration of a mobile phone or i-pad. Users are able to complete a variety of “on demand” tasks, namely take pictures, record video, live stream video, retrieve directions, instant language interpretation, send messages, and indulge random curiosities, such as “how tall is the statue of liberty”? It’s no wonder why innovations like these have made Google one of the most valuable companies in the world.
What Google Glass can do
Each function is detailed in a sleek website dominated by accessible pictures and videos focused on “Glass Explorers”, those who agree to be filmed as they test the product. The advertising provides a visceral, inspiring, and attractive depiction of the product, however, Google Glass demands a more thorough examination. No doubt, Google Glass enables a different kind experience, but fundamental questions remain as to the viability of this technology as well as the impact of it on our daily lives. This led to the question: Will Google Glass enhance or dilute our collective experiences of reality?
Google Glass simplifies a variety of tasks. As a student, this product stands to simplify my life. The increased accessibility of lectures or course materials and improved communications with classmates are merely a few key benefits. Moreover, such technologies could transform the way students both engage in class discussions, draw upon lectures, and course readings, and all would be invaluable for writing papers or exams. The significance of such changes must be acknowledged, however, the problems to plague the product outweigh the benefits. Despite the futurist promises of an “enhanced” human experience, Google Glass undermines human interaction, suffers from poor usability, and prompts ethical questions.
Google Glass undermines human interaction
Unlike a mobile phone kept in the pocket, Google Glass situates a screen in the immediate periphery of the eye. Take for instance, a couple sits down to dinner at a restaurant. How does one know whether the person across the table is not monitoring the scores of a sports event or reading emails? The simple act of checking a mobile phone is quite different than watching highlights and monitoring the basketball score in the Google Glass viewfinder. Further, one reviewer noted the product left her with headaches:
“It’s disorienting. You’re unable to focus on people or things around you. It instantly makes the wearer robotic…You become completely incapable of holding an animated conversation” (Shontell 2013).
Indeed, further reflection is needed on the ways in which this product shapes the way we interact with others. Not only could it lend to sensory overload, but also undermines the capacity for individuals to interact without distraction.
Second, Google Glass succumbs to poor usability. First, the maximum battery life is five hours (Yarow 2013). This is far less than most mobile phones. This relates to the next point, portability. Google Glass fails the portability test. Google Glass does not fold-up like conventional glasses. While flexible, the titanium band does not make for a device that fits within a pocket (Yarow 2013). Moreover, the picture quality is noticeably of a lower grade than of the iPhone or latest Android (Yarow 2013). Indeed, some of these features will improve with time, but whether this will change the palatability of the product remains a fundamental question.
The Privacy Concern
Lastly, Google Glass prompts ethical questions. First, the very notion that Google Glass could record any conversation or take photos at any time could revolutionize human interaction. No longer will we be able to have a conversation among friends without the possibility of it being recorded to someone’s chagrin. A more crucial impact, however, lies in the integration of this technology with our daily lives.
Forget concerns about privacy of metadata or personalized Facebook and Google search engine or application use, Google Glass serves as a conduit through which to track every movement and to link searches or applications with locations (Morozov 2013). Such revelations open a Pandora’s box of new potential for deeper penetration of advertising into our lives. Advertising could appear based on surroundings and Google Glass use (Morozov 2013). Indeed, Google Glass use eviscerates privacy, as we know it.
Google Glass use fosters a new and more penetrating platform for advertisers to partner with private technology companies, such as Google. Lost in this new partnership is any semblance of privacy for the individual Google Glass user.
In conclusion, Google Glass offers a tempting product with new “hands free” convenience, but it fails on a several accounts. Google Glass threatens to alter human interaction, fails to live up to basic usability, and threatens our privacy. Such a product may seem like an enticing way to “enhance” the user experience, but the practical use – and complications therein – demonstrate the extent to which Google Glass dilutes the human experience and succumbs to practical flaws.
Morozov, E. (April 5, 2013). Google revolution isn’t worth our privacy. The Financial Times.
Shontell, A. (May 3, 2013). I tried Google Glass, and I wouldn’t pay more than $150 for one. Business Insider.
Yarow, J. (May 3, 2013). The verdict is in: nobody likes Google Glass. Business Insider.