In spite of the fact that it’s been hyped by the powerful marketing resources of Google, and by tech-enthusiast writers who have received product samples to test, Google Glass has yet to catch on. The electronic eyeglasses, which contain a small computer, a teeny camera, and a semi-transparent screen that fits over part of the wearer’s field of vision, are distracting to both the person wearing them and to the people around them. They manage to simultaneously compromise the quality of both ordinary sight and online activities. They’re ugly.
Never mind all that, say Google Glass afficionados. Google Glass is the mobile communications technology of the future, they say.
Who’s going to actually use Google Glass, and for what? “It’s for the 90% of workers who don’t work behind a computer and use their hands a lot,” says Yan-David Erlich, CEO of Wearable Intelligence, a company that has designed software for use on Google Glass.
The 90 percent of workers who don’t work behind a computer? Who are they?
The latest data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the following as the largest occupations in the United States.
Half of these top six occupations (retail, office clerks, and customer service) spend a lot of time working with access to computer screens. They don’t need Google Glass. That “90 percent of workers” Erlich refers to isn’t really 90 percent of the workforce.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also notes that most workers don’t make enough money to buy Google Glass as a professional accessory. Nor do they work for employers who have shown a willingness to invest in expensive technology to help workers do their jobs more easily. “Most of the largest occupations were relatively low paying,” the Bureau found in its latest data review.
Google Glass costs $1,500 plus sales tax per pair.
Then there’s the vulnerability of a lightweight computer worn on the face in a hands-on workplace. Cooks work in kitchens where steam, smoke and grease will obscure glass screens that hang over ovens and fryers. Highway crews and park rangers work outside, where it rains and snows. JP Mangalindan of the Wall Street Journal, who spends most of his time working in front of a computer, proposes that, with Google Glass, “a construction worker could work without ever reaching for a building map”. A construction worker also wears a hardhat because of the danger of falling objects that could smash a dainty pair of Google Glass into a million little high-tech pieces… and how hard is it really to reach for a building map?
The more people struggle to find reasons to use Google Glass, the more plain it becomes that Google Glass is the Segway of the face.