Google's Newest Innovation, Google Glass
Google has captured everyone's attention with its newest innovation, Google Glass. The glasses, which Google offered at full cost through an "If I Had Glass" competition, function as a wearable computer headset. Users can perform Internet searches with image and text results, and take and share pictures and video through integration with Google-owned YouTube. With the "If I Had Glass" campaign over, beta users are testing the product and the rest of us are left with questions about whether Google's latest is worth it.
Can It Go Mainstream?
While people everywhere agree that a Glass experience would be cool, can that translate into mainstream sales when Google opens it up later this year? That depends. Critics point to the high geek factor involved; there's an uncool perception attached to the product, even if the technology seems cool. This is illustrated by the pop-up Tumblr White Men Wearing Google Glass. Google may have to make several different frame options to please a wider audience, and somehow the uncool perception will need change if Glass is to remain relevant.
Photo by Flickr user Max Braun
Google will also have to come up with some type of accommodation for prescription eyeglass wearers. Google is reportedly in talks with eyewear manufacturer Warby Parker about creating frames that are more chic, so hopefully this will help with the anticipated distribution and prescription problems.
Integration with TV
Glass' video feature offers new possibilities for creating a first-person watcher experience for concerts, sports and more. Instead of watching the hockey game on TV, viewers might be able to experience a fresh-from-the-ice perspective of a Glass wearer sitting rinkside. Novelty aside, this does raise the question of how this new technology will integrate with television. As Glass wearers create custom feeds, might a subscription package from www.direct.tv open up to enable Glass feeds in addition to paid content? Only time will tell.
Will It Hold Up?
Early reviews already question whether Glass will hold up over time. Price, durability, longevity and availability all come into play. If Google can get these questions right, Glass just may be here to stay.
Price. Beta versions of Glass cost $1,500, a price that puts them out of reach for many. Google said it plans to make lower-cost glasses, but how much the average user will pay to experience Glass remains to be seen. Durability. How well-made are these glasses? If the product can't survive being dropped or falling off, wide adoption will be limited. Longevity. Construction and durability aside, the roadblock to longevity lies in usefulness. What can Glass actually do for users? Is it just a pretty toy or can it actually improve users' lives? Glass must prove its use and come down in price to really succeed. Availability. Where and how will Glass be sold? If the Warby Parker alliance falls through, will there be a convenient way for mainstream users to purchase Glass? And will there be deals or discounts to entice sales?
While Google Glass seems cool, it must do more than that. Stay tuned for additional reports from beta users that prove its utility, make it look cool or simply sell you on a pair.
Social media is Jason Harrington's forte. He updates his tweets and status every hour at least and every update pertains to a new advance in social media.
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