Lentis/The Looking Glass

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Google Glass's announcement in 2012 was met with great anticipation; some people even went as far as to describe it as "the future of Google" [1]. Thousands of people turned out to see demonstrations of the prototype product [2]. Some people thought it would help reduce the amount of time people spent on their phones; some though it would promote human interaction; some thought it would become the new norm for remote meetings; some thought it would be perfect for receiving assembly instructions; some thought it would become as revolutionary an invention as the iPhone [3]. What they didn't expect was the major backlash it would receive.

Announcement and Uprise[edit]

How It Works and Features[edit]

The Google glass utilized a simple interface. It incorporated a touch "pad" along the side of the ear piece that allowed the user to navigate and a upward nod feature that woke the system up.

The visuals that you see are sent out of a mini projector and into the angled lens. The images are focused directly onto the rear of your eye. The focusing only worked for people who did not wear glasses. This was fixed later in the release by incorporating perscription lenses into the google glass.

The interesting part of this feature is that the images are seamlessly integrated into the view you already see. It is as if the visual is part of the scenery.

Pre-Release Hype[edit]

Much of the material for studying the pre-release hype of google glass was purged from the internet when google chose to delete most of their social media content promoting the product in early 2016. That being said, some of google's ads for the device are still hosted by third parties on social media platforms such as youtube. From these ads, it can be easily concluded that the image of glass being presented to the public was that of a device that would augment one's everyday experience. Because of this, many tech geeks and other technophiles were rather excited for what may have looked, at the time, like the dawn of casual everyday AR.

The original 2012 live demo is available to watch on YouTube. Though the presenters claim that their demo was not going to be "slick" and that it "could go wrong in about 500 different ways", it was clear that their intention was to impress the audience and make Google Glass popular. They live streamed video from skydivers, bikers, and people rappelling down a building.

Backlash and Failure to Meet Expectations[edit]

Cost[edit]

The high cost of Google Glass was a definite impediment to widespread acceptance. Descriptions included "outrageous [4]" and "wow is it expensive [5]". The first Google Glass that was available outside of the company, as part of the Explorer program, cost $1,500 [6].


Overhype Disappointment[edit]

After the stunning pre-release promotions and demonstrations, many people were disappointed by the actual product. Many complained of Glass's short battery life [7], pointing out that it was useless if it couldn't hold a charge. Others held it could do little more than a cell phone.

Several cartoons parody this perceived uselessness, including Web Donuts [8].

Privacy Concerns[edit]

Google Glass's camera was always posed to record, and displayed no visible changes when recording. This generated major backlash, as people hated the idea that Glass wearers could be recording them without their knowledge. Since cameras and phones had to be held aloft to take pictures, where Glass was already positioned to record, the outrage over Glass became much larger than discussions about cameras in public. Children and adults alike recognized the potential for sneaky videography. The idea that Google Glass could, and would, be used for spying led to its banishment from some restaurants and clubs. Even in some places it wasn't officially banned, other patrons would chase Glass wearers out of the building, covering the camera [9]. Movie theaters in particular were concerned about the camera, not because they were afraid their customers would be recorded, but rather that Glass would be used to pirate movies. At first, individual theaters began to ban Glass from the premises [10], but soon The Motion Picture Association of America and National Association of Theatre Owners both banned Glass and other wearable recording devices inside theaters. The official ban, announced on October 29, 2014 [11], came only 18 months after the Google Glass became available to certain parts of the public for the very first time, as part of the Explorers program.

Some private citizens banded together to push back against Google Glass and other wearables with recording capabilities. Such groups include "Stop the Cyborgs", who profess their purpose as resisting "the invasive nature of wearables, dataveilance, and the internet of things more generally," including Google Glass [12]. People who disliked Google Glass and the people who wore them coined a derogatory term for Glass users, calling them "Glassholes".

XKCD comic depicting the widespread dislike of Google Glass's every-ready camera

The strongly negative response to Google Glass's photography capabilities were captured in a number of cartoons. Some, like Joy of Tech [13] and Andertoons [14], point out the surveillance potential. Others, like XKCD, Penny Arcade [15], and What the Duck [16], illustrated people's hate that they might be recorded. More still, like E&T [17], capture Glass's banishment from various institutions. Due to copyright laws, many of these comics cannot be displayed on Wikibooks, but links to view these comics are available in the references section.

Multiple people expressed the view that if Google Glass hadn't included the ever-ready camera, the device might have been successful [18].

Not everyone was upset about the camera. People pointed out that in any public space, there's always a possibility of being recorded, whether on cell phones, security cameras, or other devices. Despite this, the general consensus at the time held that Google Glass was worse than cell phone cameras, as with cell phones, at least you could see the person was holding them differently to record.


"Geek Factor"[edit]

The thick frames of the Google Glass contributed to its reputation as "dorky" or "geeky" looking[5] that discouraged some potential buyers. While some considered the look "futuristic", many considered it "ridiculous [19]". The screen on the side was small compared to other devices of the time, but it was still as large as the wearer's eye. The screen obscured one of the wearer's eyes, which was compounded by the shadow cast over the eye. The thick frames didn't improve the look either.

Some have joked that the Glass looks like the Eye of Sauron [20], that monocles are "substantially less stupid looking" [21], and that fake-nose Groucho Marx glasses are "more classical and distinguished looking" [22]. The comic FoxTrot jokes that a "Locutus of Borg" Star Trek cosplay would be an improved look for Google Glass [23].


Multitasking and Distraction[edit]

Serious concerns have been expressed about the distractions due to constantly having a screen within your field of view. The most dangerous ones include surfing the internet or watching a movie while driving [19], though more minor personal injury could occur due to distraction in other situations. A number of cartoons poked fun at this trend, including The Appalachian [24], Cagle [25], and Extralife [26]. Tickets for driving with Google glass were given out as early as early as 2013; one such publicly posted ticket is visible in this image [27].

Publicly shared image of a ticket given for driving while wearing Google Glass on December 30, 2013

Concern was expressed that the constantly-visible display would distract from conversation and daily life even more than a normal phone. People thought that the distraction would reduce attention span, reduce engagement in personal interactions, and reduce productivity at work. Bonkers World [28]


Return of Google Glass[edit]

Updated Features[edit]

Similar Products[edit]

Many other companies have released augmented reality systems as well. Microsoft's Hololens is under development now, and Magic Leap is another augmented reality wearable. The extremely popular Pokemon Go, released by Niantic, is another augmented reality system, though it displays through a phone screen rather than a wearable display.

References[edit]

Project Glass is the Future of Google.[1]

Amazing Google Glasses Demonstration at Google I/O 2012.[2]

Google Glass: What It Means for Business. [3]

Google Glass. [4]

Amazon Customer Reviews. [5]

Google Glass Review: PC Advisor. [19]

  1. googleglass on Twitter. [18]


Editorial Cartoon: A Look at the Dangers of Technology Courtesy of Google Glass. [24]

Google Glass Grovels. [13]

What the Duck Google Glass. [16]

Andertoons School Cartoon 6982. [14]

Google Glass Banned. [17]

A New Google Glass Accessory. [7]

Web Donuts Google Glass Future. [8]

Stop the Cyborgs. [12]

It's Official: Google Glass is Banned in Movie Theaters. [11]

Google Glass Banned at Alamo Drafthouse Theater Chain. [10]

Assaulted and Robbed at Molotov Bar on Haight St. for Wearing Google Glass. [9]

Why Google Glass is Destined to Fail. [20]

Mac Monocle: Conceptual Illustration of a "Less Stupid Looking" Version of Google Glass. [21]

Introducing the New Google Glass designs! [22]

FoxTrot: Google Glass Revised Designs. [23]

Penny Arcade: Glasshole. [15]

Bonkers World: Missing Out [28]

Cagle: Google Glass [25]

Extra Life: Google Glass Driving [26]

Google Glass Driving Ticket [27]

Google Glass Year in Review [6]

  1. a b [1], Peter Ha 2012.
  2. a b [2], Mobilegeeks YouTube channel, June 27, 2012.
  3. a b [3], Benjamin Robbins, June 28, 2012.
  4. a b [4], Matt Swider, February 21, 2017.
  5. a b c Amazon customer reviews for Google Glass.
  6. a b [5] Drew Olanoff, 2014
  7. a b [6] NPC Comic, August 19, 2013
  8. a b [7] Gruhn, December 8, 2014
  9. a b [8] Sarah Slocum, February 23, 2014.
  10. a b [9] NBC New, June 10, 2014
  11. a b [10] NBC News, October 29, 2014.
  12. a b [11]
  13. a b [12] The Joy of Tech, Nitrozac and Snaggy, 2013.
  14. a b [13] Mark Anderson
  15. a b [14] Mike Krahulik & Jerry Holkins, 2013
  16. a b [15] Aaron Johnson, May 23, 2013.
  17. a b [16] E&T, Kipper Williams, March 11, 2013
  18. a b [17], Twitter users including Bill Quiseng August 1, 2015; Variety May 27, 2015;
  19. a b c [18], Code Breaker Cool Kira YouTube Channel, March 12, 2017.
  20. a b [19] Andy Walker, May 23, 2014
  21. a b [20] Tobias Lunchbreath and Justin Page, May 1, 2013
  22. a b [21] Nitrozac and Snaggy, The Joy of Tech, 2014
  23. a b [22] Bill Amend, August 3, 2014
  24. a b [23], Bridget Mundy, October 2, 2013.
  25. a b [24] Bob Englehart, August 7, 2013
  26. a b [25] Matt on Blue IT, January 25,2016
  27. a b [26] Cecelia Abadie, December 30, 2013
  28. a b [27] Manu Cornet