It’s hard to believe that Google unveiled its first Glass prototype more than two years ago. Now in beta, the product has life-changing potential; especially in the areas of healthcare, teaching, media and shopping. Users can learn, share details about their lives, and process information in real time. Since Google Glass switches focus from a hand-held device to one that becomes a focal point, basically, because you’re wearing it—everything that’s happening through the device brings the information to a whole new level.
In fact, platforms like Google Glass introduce limitless possibilities. As Forbes writer Will Burns puts it, “The applications of Google Glass extend as far as the eye can see, and as deeply as the mind can dream.”
Is it time for your business to jump into this new technology ecosystem? Perspectives on this are split, raising even more questions than answers.
1. Are humans ready for the augmented reality Google Glass brings?
While the concept of augmented reality is well-established, Glass takes the concept of ‘always on’ to new heights — take a photo with a wink, translate photos in real time, read email instantly, and record video without holding up a camera.
The big question, however, is whether the human body can handle it.
Google has conducted significant research to make sure that the device is safe — and for many users, it will be. But people with specific health conditions should proceed cautiously. Eyesight, for example, falls on a spectrum. And ophthalmologists and medical researchers agree that there is reason to be concerned as headaches and dizziness are potential side effects of Glass.
As with any device, usage of Glass will vary. ‘Always on’ is one extreme use case — others will be using Glass in short increments.
The bottom line is that businesses need a clear understanding of these different use cases before developing products on the Glass platform and Google Glass developers need to study their target group’s physiology in addition to their consumer preferences.
2. Are you thinking about context and your office atmosphere?
Google Glass is a touchy subject. The ‘cool factor’ is high among technology enthusiasts — but so is the potential for awkwardness in social settings.
Consumers don’t necessarily like advertising that they’re ‘always on’ technophiles. Incessant ‘Ok Glass’ commands can be awkward and disruptive in social settings.
A Seattle bar made headlines last year when it banned Glass, just days after it was announced. Bartenders and consumers alike are afraid of unsolicited video recordings — patrons caught on tape when they’re vulnerable.
While Google Glass has the potential to be ‘cool’ and useful, it’s equally likely to make bystanders feel awkward and uncomfortable as it really is a designed for one-person use.
Consider that the success of your Glass project will be dependent on context. Focus on sociology as much as technology when considering Glass as part of your business technology.
3. Are the benefits of waiting worth the costs?
Some companies may want to think about waiting before putting money behind a new platform as time will clarify uncertainties about Glass’s market adoption. And for other organizations; Glass as a business technology strategy may make sense as the applications of Glass in the workplace are compelling and clear.
Consider the case of vision insurance and lens provider VSP Global. The company is working on applications for Google Glass in medical settings.
VSP and Google recently struck a deal to offer coverage for prescription lenses and frames and there is interest in having Glass as part of the healthcare system.
Businesses need to decide whether Glass makes sense—and is worth the investment—for their business model.
Google Glass: Business Technology Strategy or Fun Gadget?
There are no certainties that Google Glass will take off — but the probability is high. In reality, the answer to the question: “Does my business need a Glass strategy?” is far from black and white. In some markets, Glass will probably crash and burn. In others, it will likely become a staple.
Ultimately, you need to look beyond technology — psychology, physiology, and sociology are major factors that will guide your strategy. After all, business technology strategy is something all companies need to keep top-of-mind in this ever-evolving technological Information Age.
Have you used Google Glass? Do you think the technology will take-off in the business world to support information mobility? We welcome your thoughts below.