Can Google Glass get technology "out of the way" as it claims — or is it just another toy to distract us from reality?
There is much speculation swirling about Google Glass. The tech giant’s revolutionary new wearable computer has people concerned about privacy and distracted driving, among other things. There is so much concern, in fact, that there are currently pushes for legislation banning Glass from various events and venues… even though it is not yet available for public purchase.
I’m a Glass Explorer. This means I am part of the Glass beta tester program, and I get to geek out with this new technology before you do. I was a little nervous that having such a cool toy attached to my face might further disconnect me from real life — that it might just be the big distraction the headlines claim. And for the first few days, it was. I found myself staring at the tiny screen figuring out the navigation and voice commands for much of my day. Then, I started using it how it was meant to be used.
The tagline on the Glass Google+ page reads, “Getting technology out of the way.” And really, it does. Once I was used to the feel of it and got the hang of the navigation, I realized I was spending much less time staring at my phone, and more time smiling at my son. My interactions with Glass were few and brief. For example, when using the turn-by-turn navigation on my Samsung Galaxy Note II, I continually glance down to see how far until my next turn, what time I will arrive, and what streets I’m passing.
When I stream my navigation through Glass, the screen is blank (see-through) until it’s time to turn, at which point a simple graphic pops up and a voice chimes in to direct me. If I want to look at the display, I can still see through it to the road. Decidedly less distracting.
And I know a little about being distracted. I’ll admit it — I’ve been that mom. You know, the mom glued to her phone, scrolling through Facebook, mumbling replies as I check notifications and my child/husband/dog pleads for attention. I hate this tendency and struggle against it, but have always slid back into my virtual life the moment my phone beeps or dings or vibrates. I feel like Pavlov’s dog. Even my 3-year-old frantically delivers my phone to me any time it makes a noise. “Your phone, Mom! You forgot your phone! It’s Mimi!” He shows me the scary reality of his world — grown-ups can’t ignore phones.
When I put Glass on, my world opens up. I don’t fear missing a text, call or that email I’ve been anxiously awaiting. I can go about my day, knowing that Glass will chime in my ear when something important is up.
All I have to do is tilt my head back to turn on the display and read the notification or have Glass read it to me. I don’t have to have my phone strapped to my side in order to capture photos of our playful preschooler. I can just push a button on the frame or say, “OK Glass, take a picture.” I don’t have to even glance away from my little boy’s gorgeous chocolate eyes to get a picture of them. I can stay in touch with technology without losing touch with reality. Glass is an extension of me — not the other way around.
Because Glass is triggered mainly through voice commands, my three-year-old understands when I’m interacting with someone through Glass, unlike his frustration when I would sit silently and tell him to wait while I stared at my phone for some reason he couldn’t understand.
I get the fears surrounding this new technology. I get it. But until you’ve used Glass — until you’ve felt the way it almost forces you to reconnect with the outside world, you can’t understand the potential benefit it will be for this generation that rarely looks up from our smartphones. I don’t have to be hooked on my phone when Glass is hooked on me.
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