The Hype Cycle: What’s Next for Google Glass? | WIRED.
Few gadgets have been as celebrated and derided as Google Glass. Introduced with fanfare and photographed on the mugs of more than a few celebrities and tech-pundit-luminaries, Glass has acquired its unfair share of zealots and naysayers.
Let me be clear on one thing: Glass is cool. It is one of the few tech gadgets to approach the first iPhone in sheer audacity and inherent playfulness. You may not want to own Google Glass, but given the opportunity, you’d sure as shoot try it out. And everyone and their brother has shared their unique vision for how Glass will change society.
Gartner has a great term for this phase in the adoption of any new technology. They call it the “Peak of Inflated Expectations.”
In Gartner parlance, that peak is almost inevitably followed by “The Trough of Disillusionment.” (Decide for yourself whether Gartner’s terminology influenced place names in Game of Thrones.) What does the trough look like? It looks like the recent coverage of Glass in Reuters or Vanity Fair. It becomes de rigueur to proclaim and predict the demise of the gadget. Of 16 app vendors contacted by Reuters, fully nine of them had abandoned their efforts. Reuters also found that many of the key people behind the product have left Google, and Google Glasses are selling on eBay at less than half of the $1,500 list price.
The reality of Glass in day-to-day life is that it is pretty invasive. Who really wants to feel like they’re being watched and investigated by every stranger on the street, or in a bar, or wherever? Glass can interrupt social interaction, and that’s generally not a positive attribute for new gadgets.
So what’s next for Glass? If Gartner’s model holds, and I think it will, Glass will enter the “Slope of Enlightenment” with practical application. One of the first places Glass will show its impact may be the last place people think of for emerging technologies: the plant floor.
A key hurdle for consumer adoption is the nerd factor. Shvetank Shah, a Washington, DC-based consultant, told Reuters, “I’m a card carrying nerd, but this was one card too many.” But in factories, protective eyewear is required, and keeping your hands free to work is fundamental.
Smart safety glasses that offer hands-free information have huge potential.
In a manufacturing environment, Google Glass becomes another component in the Internet of making things (IoMT): the fabric of sensors, equipment, people and materials that run contemporary factories. Today’s shop floor includes robots, autonomous vehicles, networked metal stamping machines, IP-enabled machines and tools, hand-held scanners and thousands of other connected devices. Google Glass, when attached to OSHA-spec eye protection, fits right in.
And in just the past year, new sensors and low-power Bluetooth devices add even more flexibility to the networked shop floor. We envision a near future where these technologies enable new levels of safety, change the way employees interact with products and tools, and unlock greater insights into products long after they have left the plant.
Many of the facilities I visit require that employees wear orange safety vests to make them visible to forklift drivers. Imagine embedding a Bluetooth device in those vests and equipping drivers with Google Glass; together these technologies can alert the driver of nearby co-workers before they come into view. As a component of the IoMT, Google Glass can provide simple, yet significant opportunity to improve plant safety – according to Compliance and Safety, one of six workplace deaths are related to forklifts, and 80% of forklift accidents involve pedestrians.
Google Glass could also serve as an early alert system for plant managers, providing notifications regarding broken machinery, required maintenance or low materials supply. We’re just scratching the surface for possible applications and benefits. A little enlightenment and a plateau of productivity.
That’s what’s next for Google Glass