This is the story Google needs to tell

I’m at odds with what Google are doing here. A fashion show is an event so far removed from the vision Sebastian Thrun so eloquently speaks of, that it leaves me wondering if I should prepare to be disappointed, again. Google are in a fortunate position whereby they have the opportunity to better engineer the way many of us live; yet so often the realities of their more ambitious pursuits leave me feeling deflated and frustrated.

When Google first announced Project Glass, I was skeptical. I felt as though all they had succeeded in doing was to shift the friction from our palms to our ears. However, as I let my opinions settle I began exploring the history of glasses, and then I came across this remark that changed everything for me.

Much has been written, ranging from the valuable to the worthless, about the invention of eyeglasses; but when it is all summed up, the fact remains that the world has found lenses on its nose without knowing whom to thank.

Professor Vasco Ronchin, 1946

This struck a chord with me as it addressed both my skepticism and hope. I soon realized that Project Glass is the obvious and natural progression of the eyeglasses concept. For example, had microprocessors been invented before spectacles, a lot more of us would be wearing glasses. Google are attempting to create a device that allows us to see the world in a more vivid light. It’s a brilliant evolution of an old idea.

Yet, I have concerns. I hope Google can remain undistracted by the flashy and fashionable world of media attention. First there was the skydive and now — on the same day as Apple’s iPhone 5 event — the fashion show, both runways of distraction I believe they would be wise to avoid.

Google should take a more serious approach to communicating their idea. If they want people to accept Glass they need to start drawing calculated connections between their vision and the things we genuinely value as potential consumers. So far the tone is that of novelty rather than substance. I don’t care about documenting a skydive or a fashion show. These are finge cases that most people can’t relate to. Glass has the potential to be truly revolutionary, but if they don’t pay close attention to how the 99% are perceiving it, it could end up being just a seasonal trend.

I would love to see Google relentlessly focus on a number of authentic and beautiful use cases for Glass. Building upon our collective values as humans while addressing the insecurities we have about these strange and wonderful digital lives, google should painting a picture of the near future they want us to be apart of. As I was writing this post I came across an encouraging quote in the Wall Street Journal by Sergey Brin that I think captures what I’m talking about.

Mr. Brin said his favorite feature is the time-lapse capability that lets him snap photos of his kids every 10 seconds when he is playing with them. “I never think about taking out my phone,” he said. “That would really be disruptive to my play time.”

He continues.

“I have always disliked the feeling that with technology I am spending a lot of my time and attention managing it. The notion of seamlessly having access to your digital world without disrupting the real world is very important.”

And that right there is the story Google needs to be telling.

 
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