Early word on Google Glass: Promising... and clunky

googleglass.jpgNewfangled products either capture the public's imagination or they don't. iPods did; electric cars didn't (except maybe for Tesla). Hi-def TVs yes; TV watches not so much. Now there is Google Glass, which is basically a smart phone embedded on what looks a little like a pair of eye glasses. You communicate through voice commands and the display appears in front of you, as if it's floating on air. Nifty and useful, you'd think. But among early adopters who are using Google Glass, the reviews are only so-so. As you'd expect, the product is loaded with bugs and lacking popular apps we enjoy on a conventional smart phone. But Venture Beat reporter Jolie O'Dell says it's more than that:

It's up to us as individuals to make moral decisions about the technology we use. For me, I consider technology a tool, a means to an end. Too often, my peers tend to get wrapped up in the joy of tech in and of itself, as an end and a goal to be celebrated rather than a tool to be carefully used. In my moral universe, Google Glass for consumers can only serve to distract us, not truly help us any more, better, or faster than the other tools we already use. For example, you already have Google Maps to guide you around your city with turn-by-turn audio navigation. That tool doesn't get any better when it's smack-dab against your eyeball. Neither does your email or your Instagram feed or your Facebook account. Glass is a game-changer, sure, but in the worst possible way.

Cnet's Lindsey Turrentine is kinder:

My husband put it best: Glass is like wearing a smartphone from five years ago stuck to your head (well, except for the sophisticated voice recognition). The screen is blurry much of the time, and as Scott and I have both explained above, Glass really doesn't do that much. Even its Google search results get truncated and are sometimes confusing, since they only deliver the "rich snippet" content that you see on the first page of Google search results. But Glass hints at something so promising: the ability to share and absorb up-to-the-minute information while you keep your hands free, without looking down. It's counterintuitive from a safety perspective, but so far, my hands-down favorite use of Glass has been while driving. Glass' Google Maps integration puts turn-by-turn directions in your peripheral vision -- no looking across the dash or at a phone to see the map. Glass chimes and speaks when you need to change direction, and while directions are running, Glass won't perform any other features, presumably to keep a driver focused.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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