Google Glass, Wearable Tech, and Big Data

Despite working in tech for nigh-twenty years, I’m not a classic early adopter. I’ve certainly played regularly on the bleeding edge, but also prefer technology that works reliably and has real lasting value.

Some ways I’ve been early:

  • First programmed on a TRS-80 with a phone coupler and audio cassette storage
  • Had a Compaq portable and an Atari 2600
  • Read Neuromancer when it came out
  • Played online games on BBS forums as early as 1990
  • Used e-mail regularly since 1991
  • Ran phone lines between dorm rooms to network Macs via 2400 baud modems
  • Got a cell phone in 1996
  • Moved to SF in 1997 for the dot com boom

Some ways I’ve been retro/nostalgic/Luddite:

  • My cars today are a 1965 Mustang and a 1976 F-150
  • Still read books with paper in them
  • Do not like Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, or Miley Cyrus
  • Wore a mohawk as recently as 2011
  • Do not have cable TV or a DVR
  • Always running one or two iPhones behind
  • Will say “swell” in conversation and mean it

So, mixed credentials then. When I started seeing Google Glass, it seemed like the first real opportunity to go cyborg and live an "always-on" life. Plus who doesn’t want the adoration of one’s friends, peers, and strangers on the street. As a technology analyst, this seemed like a great tax deduction opportunity to explore the intersection of big data, social, and mobile, too. The ability to seamlessly access any data, anywhere, any time seemed like a dream come true. A core concept of big data is getting ready insights from many sources in a convenient way--wearables with visual access seem like the ultimate user interface to be able to know everything on demand.

Glass is not ready.

Pros:

  • Way cool concept, if you still think Neuromancer is cool
  • Heads-up display and theoretically hands-free
  • Maps and exploration on the go
  • Photos and video on the instantaneous impulse
  • Looks really great with the sunglasses attached

Cons:

  • E-mail is Gmail only, with no editing capability
  • Phone has unacceptably bad audio on the other end
  • Text/SMS is unavailable with an iPhone
  • Works best on Wi-Fi, which is when better devices are handier
  • Facebook is post only, no browsing
  • News apps give you a headline only
  • Web browsing is too small and awkward to use
  • Maps don’t have traffic
  • Somehow believes Google+ is a viable social network
  • Google Play syncs music easily, but doesn’t play well outside the house
  • Blocks peripheral vision while walking or driving - dangerous!
  • Navigation of “cards” is terrible, better to just re-do anything than find it
  • Voice controls are just not socially acceptable
  • Very short battery life, a couple of hours even with only light usage
  • Looks very tacky without sunglasses

So while I was hoping to be on the front wave of a new generation of human-machine relations, always in the Matrix, and assimilated with the Borg, instead it was way too wonky and way too limited. Found myself reaching for my phone or laptop every time. The novelty wore off in about three days.

Sorry, no stunning analyst insights into how these wearable devices will better the world. First they need to better themselves.

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI Enterprise Mobility