Two big products have dominated tech and finance headlines lately: Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Glass and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s rumored iWatch. These two products have ignited a debate about the future of “wearable technology” – supporters believe it is an inevitable next step in our gradual transformation into constantly-connected cyborgs, while critics believe that the absurdity of wearing a computer on your face will never be considered mainstream. Just how are Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), and other companies planning to change how we regard the connection between fashion and technology, and will these ideas become profitable in the near future?
Google Glass is a project that has been in development since April 2012. The “augmented reality head mounted display”, as Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) calls it, is a pair of wraparound glasses that contains a tiny computer on the side, which projects a heads-up display before the users’ eyes. The system is hands-free, and is operated by voice, head movements and touching the frame.
Glass runs on Android, and uses either WiFi or Bluetooth to connect to the Internet through the user’s cellphone. Once connected, the user can access many of Google’s cloud-based apps on the go, such as walking directions from Google Maps, alerts from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Now, instant translations on Google Translate, or video chats via Google Hangouts – all without looking down and accessing a smartphone, tablet or computer. If successful, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) will be one step closer to its stated dream of “ubiquitous computing” – a sci-fi reality in which Internet-enabled computers will be accessible anywhere and ready to instantly respond to our requests.
Glass is scheduled to be released in the fourth quarter of this year, but will these glasses, which have the tendency to make people look comically like cyborgs, ever gain mainstream adoption?
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) understands how steep the challenge to make Glass look fashionable will be, and has reportedly been in talks with Warby Parker, an e-commerce retailer of trendy glasses, to help it design more fashionable frames. The partnership is not official yet. Google also recruited the help of fashion designer Diane von Fursternberg, who organized a runway show of models wearing different colored versions of Glass at Fashion Week.
Nonetheless, Glass will be an acquired taste, and with an initial price tag of $1,500 – a superfluous luxury item, despite its revolutionary functions.
In my opinion, Glass shouldn’t be initially marketed to the public, as Google is trying so hard to do. It should be marketed to industries that need these heads-up displays for everyday tasks – such as teachers, tour guides, waiters, police officers, and soldiers.
People in these fields can use Glass for more practical purposes, instead of entertaining the vague notion that you can instantly transform yourself into an Internet-connected robot. This would visibly demonstrate the usefulness and practicality of Glass, and make it a more familiar sight to the public. Only then would mainstream adoption would become a possibility.
Compared to Google’s ambitious Glass project, the rumored iWatch is a much smaller gamble for Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL). Apple first caught everyone’s attention when it started testing designs with curved glass earlier this year. Then reports and rumors quickly followed about the company producing a smart watch that could synchronize with the iPhone.
However, an iWatch would not be an original idea from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).