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How Google Glass set wearable computing back 10 years

Fredric Paul | June 18, 2014
The introduction of Google Glass at the Google I/O developers conference in June 2012 was one of the coolest technology debuts ever. Glass-wearing skydivers jumped out of an airplane high above San Francisco's Moscone Center, floated down to the roof, jumped onto mountain bikes, and pedaled into the conference hall where Sergei Brin was waiting -- while the audience soaked up the experience through the first-person perspective of the stunt team.

Are you kidding me? Parents can't be technology-worshipping geeks? And just how many firefighters and doctors are we talking about?

It didn't have to be this way. If Google had been able to see past the tiny screen in front of its eyes, it would have realized that something you put on your face automatically gets a lot of attention. It could have tried to pay more attention to the people around the people wearing Glass, allaying their not-unjustified wariness by making it clearer what the Glasshole was doing (and, especially, recording). It could have tried much earlier to make the devices fashionable, high-status accessories for the ultra-cool or ultra-rich instead of the ultra-geeky.

The results of Google's ongoing miscalculations are obvious. Nobody wants to be seen wearing the things. At the recent SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, I saw only a handful of people wearing Glass, and they seemed sheepish about it. Even Robert Scoble, the device's biggest fanboy, who reveled in Glassholiness, now admits that "Google has launched this product poorly."

That's a shame. While Glass is forever tainted, a better product, marketed the right way, could have been awesome. Imagine what Steve Jobs could have done with this concept, for example. But given Google's epic marketing fail, it's going to take a long, long time before even a much better product can overcome the stigma that now surrounds Google Glass.


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