Ok Glass, where are you taking us? I have been asking myself this question for some weeks now. Glass is a great conversation starter that everybody I show it gets excited to but what about its usefulness in terms of business?
As a device, Google Glass is simply a tiny screen with a camera, microphone and headphones, which look like a pair of odd glasses. When connected to the Internet, it allows users to search, seek directions, take pictures, tweet and more. The output of which appears on a small screen as if projected in front of one eye. Well, it is interesting but what is in it for me and my business?
Geek candy or business enabler?
The overwhelming hype around Google Glass made me wonder whether it is just a delicious candy for geeks or is there something for corporate use too. Now after wearing it a few weeks, my answer is simply yes, period. While Google Glass is still in the early stages and is not due for commercial release until next year, the technology does have the potential to cater also for business specific purposes.
Glass poses disruptive new approaches to most industry sectors and an array of enterprise applications is already in the works. A few of the possibilities: real-time notifications for flight status, tourism information about interesting locations, corporate training, taxi fare estimates for between distances, real-time garage capacity information and so on to name but a few.
Video related applications are natural for Glass and therefore very promising for the media industry. The Glass will open up the doors to more creative types of videography. With Glass, we will be able to record video from an entirely new perspective such as interviews or reality TV shows and take 2nd screen experience to where it should be – on top of the broadcast stream.
User experience today
Well honestly, despite the nice marketing videos, the user experience right now is quite bad. But I also think we should not pay too much attention to the current developer version of Glass. Sure the hardware is heavy, looks geeky and it is hard to see the screen in daylight. But let’s set the hardware aside since it is subject to major changes during the years to come. And upcoming competitor products are anyway yet to be seen.
More interestingly, my first hand user experience of the Glass operating system (a version of Android) reveal that most of the usability is activated based on voice recognition. Google has the best there is, but voice recognition and activation technology is still very new and somewhat buggy. Google will need to continue to improve and expand the capabilities of this technology to make the product successful in the long-term.
So yes, there is a lot to improve but also a lot to celebrate. It is a rational move from Google not to release it yet but to improve the OS features a bit more, get more developers onboard and thus applications to market and refactor the hardware. For solution providers such as ourselves, the Glass UI creates new challenges with the small screen to adapt to space constraints, a greater need for voice recognition thus eventually rewriting most of our applications today. And in particular, it requires to think what exactly are the natural Glass applications and how should they be used.
So what next
Right now for the vast majority of companies, Glass is more a device demanding conversation than an immediate action. Indeed, almost every company would stand to benefit from an internal discussion about what the future of wearable, Internet-connected technologies holds for their industries, products, and services. The rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets have started this conversation, but what happens when the technology gets smaller, more undetectable, and more discreet? Where are the opportunities for new products and services that leverage such devices? Where are the threats? These are the questions companies should be discussing by now.
Like every other shiny innovation these days, Google Glass will live or die solely on the experience it creates for people. Early adopters will abandon Google Glass if they do not sense the social approval while wearing it or find enough useful, everyday applications. Still, rather sooner than later, Glass and other types of wearable computing will be the norm. And Google Glass may indeed become the pivotal post PC device. Therefore dear businesses, can you hear the wake up call?
For more information, please contact:
Rami Alanko, Country Manager, Qbrick Spain
Phone: +34 628 435 237