As with any other disruptive technology, Google Glass has its fair share of skeptics. In the early days, I was most certainly one of them.
More recently, however, I've grown to feel extremely excited about the project.
Perhaps the notion of wearing Google Glass strikes you as uncomfortable or impractical. I can appreciate such a perspective. For me, though, Google Glass is not so much a consumer electronics product for all the world to purchase. It's not a fashion shift and it's not necessarily the form through which wearable computing will reach critical awareness and popularity.
Google Glass, in my eyes, has an intangible quality of youthful exuberance, excitement, and energy. Each frame of each promotional video is riddled with colors, sky diving, children, and cheerful happiness. It's technology outside the darkened realms of laboratories and stress tests, residing instead in the lives of those who choose to wear Glass.
The energy is kinetic and palpable. It's active and fun. It's bright, endearing, and enticing.
It's what technology is growing to be in the world.
In many respects, Google Glass is the manifestation of the Google we've all loved at some point in our lives. It's technology borne out of a crazy notion and it affably lacks the typical characteristics of the "Next Big Thing" in the marketplace. It's simply an auspicious and exciting experiment that Google wishes to share with the world.
Google Glass is a reminder of what innovation and experimentation can — and possibly should — feel like. And it's a notion Google was veritably built upon.
Google may occasionally stray from its foundational value system of disruptive, playful, and care-free innovation. Some may even feel their skin crawl at the thought of Google algorithmically targeting your tastes based upon keywords in your inane email exchanges. I certainly don't want to belittle those who feel that way, but I cannot help but think Google stands for something far bigger than a simple advertising company.
Advertising is simply the means through which Google is able to achieve far more. And I'm more than happy to endorse such a model.
Google is one of the only companies in the world embarking on a process of such thoughtful, open, and experiential development. Rather than spending time in vacuum-sealed rooms and spending countless hours pondering the curvature of a piece of plastic, Google acts. The result is frequently imperfect — awful, even — but the sentiment of action and active experimentation is one of the most compelling notions in the world today.
Although Apple and Microsoft are building phenomenal computing products, it's rare to hear a person speak of the dazzling and mind-boggling work being carried out in their labs. The next Apple product-line — be it a watch, a television product, or otherwise — will likely be a wonderful contribution to the world of consumer electronics. Invariably, whenever the day of introduction arrives, we'll gaze with sincere admiration at the feats of thoughtful engineering and design.
And yet, we will not spend the remainder of the year discussing the crazy things Apple is building in Cupertino. Of course we'll discuss the next disruptive product, but no one actively expects Apple, in this instance, to be engaged in building platforms and services that utterly redefine the way we consider technology purely for the sake of building and experimenting. Apple relies upon polish and panache, both of which hinge upon careful, slow, and thoughtful development.
Google, on the other hand, is — and truly always has been — perceived as a bastion of unabated innovation and crazy thinking. Self-driving cars, Google Glass, neural networking, and countless other concepts we can only imagine. Unlike Apple or Microsoft, the projects are frequently outside the bounds of rationality and logic — they're simply exciting projects being explored for the sake of exploration.
And, importantly, even the most tech-averse person is aware of this identity.
From the outside, people think of Google as the place where crazy ideas go to be made. And, contrary to what many might say about the practicalities of a prototype of a wearable language translating, mapping, assistive, photography and video-enabled pair of glasses, it's a wonderful and necessary thing to behold.
Perhaps innovation is bought with money derived from advertising based upon obfuscated elements of our email, but, if you ask me, that's a small price to pay for a laboratory of some of the most forward-thinking, selective, and intelligent individuals in the world being given the opportunity to create unabated.
Google Glass is an extraordinarily exciting project. It's not without its flaws, but it's an ambitious project that inevitably aids in the solidification of the future of computing.
As people dismiss Google Glass as ugly and pointless, others are quietly dreaming of the sheer volume of possibility inherent within those simple glasses. As people decry Google for leveraging advertising to make money, others are being enabled to build technology — not just products — that might contribute to our societal lexicon in a brand new and amazing manner.
Google is not without its flaws, but it's utterly unlike any other technology company in the world. They're not necessarily focused on building the next phone or tablet — although that's certainly occurring somewhere within the company — they're looking ahead, questioning the status quo, and dreaming of possibilities that they want to explore.
At the end of the day, regardless of advertising or competitive politics, Google is doing some remarkable things and Google Glass is the embodiment of this work. Whilst you might choose to focus on their prospective storefronts or the troubles with skinning Android, I choose instead to feel grateful, optimistic, and excited for a future they're helping to define.