Google Glass and the adaptation of technology


We have accepted different social norms around technology into our everyday life.  From the first phone call received in a public space.  Getting over the initial embarrassment of not finding your phone or hear it ring, whilst everyone stares at you to pick it up in dismay.  Then it was the turn of the people walking around with their Bluetooth hands free kit, showing off their multitasking skills -  where we presume they  are either talking to themselves or to us! What could possibly next in line? Well, it appears we are now going to be wearing these devices…

That’s right, wearable devices.  With Google trialling their “Google Glass” out in the field – earmarked for launch by the end of the year (Mack, 2013)[i] what new social behaviours will occur? As I have begun writing this article, before the glasses have even been launched yet, Google Glass have been banned in a Seattle bar already (Clark, 2013)[ii]. On what seems to be on bounds of privacy, as there is apparently no way of easily patrolling what the Google Glass’ wearer is doing.

Image credit:  Stop the cyborgs:

Along similar lines, mobile phones with cameras these days have the shutter sound on by default, making it difficult to disable it (often requiring  a 3rd party app).  What will the Glass do? They have the red light indicating the Glass is ‘active’, but this is apparently not visible enough to everyone around them. Maybe, not so far in the distant future we will hear subliminal beeps from a video recording or a shutter sound coming from someone’s glasses.  If so, I think this will take some time in getting use to as everyone naturally expects someone to be holding the item visibly in their hand.

So, will we be walking around not really engaging with the world? Being in London, it will make for an interesting tube journey; if you are the only person on your row with no glasses. Watching people stare into space and start talking to their glasses out of the blue. Will the glasses get confused if it picks up another person communicating to their own? Not to mention looking like cyborgs.  However, I can also see it becoming part of fashion and a ‘thing’ to have. Like, with the Nokia fascias of 1998, we may see people swapping coloured frames with one another. Perhaps we will eventually buy into designer branded versions like we do now for phone/tablet covers.

On that note, we may surprise ourselves at how we adopt new technology into our everyday lifestyle. Like how mobile phones were originally designed for the purpose to send and receive calls on the go. The most popular feature turned out to be SMS texting , due to social interaction it was sometimes easier to text someone then go out of the way to make a phone call. (Reid & Reid, 2004)[iii] More recently, it is the phenomena of taking photos with your tablet whilst out-and-about. Looks strange, as it is much more cumbersome than your normal digital camera, and the picture quality is probably not much better than that on your phone. So, why?  I believe it has to do with the display size of the viewer, and the ability to share it instantly to the rest of the world. (Obviously, dependent on wifi / network coverage).

Image credit : Gizmodo

To conclude, as any new technology enters the market, it will initially be met with a lot of misconception and resistance. However, as time goes on we learn to embrace and adapt to change, finding different ways of using technology to adapt to our own lifestyle – thus making it an intriguing task for designers to design for.  This behaviour can be applied in their own way across products, from a simple design of a web page to a new concept like Google Glasses. In doing so, it sparks new challenges and ideas, which will go through much iteration in consideration of the user. This is where we fit in.

[i] Mack, E. (2013)$1500
[ii]  Clark,J. (2013)
[iii] Reid, Donna and Reid, Fraser. “Insights into the Social and Psychological Effects of SMS Text Messaging.” Text 2005.February (2004): 1–11.
Image credit (main image): Tech Radar:[/do]

About the author


Emily Chia

Information Architect and User Experience Designer

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