Monday, July 08, 2013

The Unbearable Wearable: Google Glass is Brilliant, Loathsome and Not Inevitable

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From: LAUNCH Ticker <>
Date: Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 12:02 PM
Subject: The Unbearable Wearable: Google Glass is Brilliant, Loathsome and Not Inevitable

The Unbearable Wearable: Google Glass is Brilliant, Loathsome and Not Inevitable (or "Take Those off before I Punch You in the Face!")

I've run into several friends wearing Google Glass in the past three months, and I have three words of advice for them:

Take. Them. Off.

First, you look like an idiot.

Second, you're killing the party.

Third, are you recording me right now?!?

First Encounter: "Are You Recording Right Now?"
The first time I ran into these magical devices in the wild was at a conference. A fairly notable person walked up to me wearing them.

I asked, "How do I know if you're recording me?"

"You don't!" he replied before correcting himself. "Well, I wouldn't do that without telling you."

"But *how* do I know? I'm not really comfortable with trusting folks to be recording me or not. I mean, how do we have a real, honest discussion if I don't know if you're recording it?" I offered.

"Well, you might be able to see me turn the camera on... See, you have to click to record," he replied.

So I'm supposed to just trust every person wearing these that they're not recording me.


Like I trusted Obama that he would unwind the police state that Bush put in place, close Guantanamo, restore due process and stop torturing people?

That kind of trust?

As far as I know, Obama's only done one of those things, and frankly, given recent events, I'm not convinced Obama wouldn't rubber stamp some Bush-era waterboarding. Think about it: FBI or CIA comes up with a clever way to justify to Obama we might get some clarity on the Boston bombings, and all we need to do is torture Tsarnaev -- just a little -- you don't think he couldn't be convinced?

Of course Obama would, and I'm going to guess he's approved a bunch of torture -- or had someone approve it at a safe distance.

Change you can believe in FTW!

Ugh. Ly.

Anyway, back to the event.

I asked my friend, "Will you take them off so we can talk?"

"No, I'm running an experiment to keep them on for a month!" he proudly retorted.


At this point, I turned around and walked away. To my mind, this was the douchiest moment of 2013.

Second Encounter: "No, You Can't Wear Those at Poker"
I co-host a private poker game once a year that draws a couple of dozen of the more degenerate members of the tech community -- real ballers. At this event, not one, but two, of my friends were wearing Glass. At 10pm.

Seriously, the day's over and we're all deep into the most intimate and social hours of our day -- our big wind down -- and you're still wearing them?

Immediately, I stand up from the table: "Give them to me!" I shout.

"I'm a Glasshole!" one confesses with a smile.

He complies instantly, as he gets exactly how inappropriate these things are for any social setting. Also, you don't want to get kicked out of this party -- it's simply too much fun, and too important for deal-making. Seriously.

I toss the device into the cabinet above the fridge, having given my friends a thorough Glass-Kicking.

Third Encounter: "Dude, You're on the Dance Floor!"
Dude walks on the dance floor at midnight wearing them. Fairly clear he is taking photos and/or video.

"Dude? You're killing the vibe!" I cry.

"Really?" he answers.

Note to geeks/dorks: Girls do not -- I repeat DO NOT -- want to dance with you while you're recording them.

Ever go to a wedding and the videographer jumps on the dance floor and everyone stops dancing? Same thing, basically.

Also, have you ever seen video of yourself dancing? You look like an idiot -- we all do! That's why rappers don't dance; they just nod and bounce a little. They get it.

Google Glass Mini-Review
You put them on and you see a little screen up and to your right. That screen looks like your phone in landscape mode. You can scroll through the screens by swiping the frames; take a photo by either blinking, saying something stupid or pressing the side.

They're really light, too. In fact, they feel cheap.

Now, all of this will change in the next three years. They will get so small that you'll be able to put them in the stems of the Ray Bans from "Risky Business.

Even with a facelift, Glass is an ugly look. It just screams paranoid, antisocial and dork--all at once.

Now, I'm told the components are super cheap as well. So, it's possible these will be a $199 or so option on your sunglasses in three years and $99 in seven years. They'll be essentially free in 10 years.

In other words, everyone will have them.

As far as I can tell, there are only two killer apps: Taking photos of your kids and using maps while you're walking/driving around a new city.

Sure, checking stock prices/sports scores, getting news alerts, reading email/texts will all be semi-useful. But Glass is just wildly awkward for these things.

A watch would work *much* better for the same activities.

The Two Big Problems with Glass: Recordings & Rudeness
As I pointed out above, covert recording with Google Glass is a huge issue. They don't have a red recording light on them, and you can easily activate them covertly.

As these get smaller, it's gonna be worse. In a couple of years, a Google Glass-enabled pair of Warby Parkers will be virtually indistinguishable from a non-Glass-enabled pair. Then everyone is recording everything covertly.

Do you want to live in that world?

Let me answer that for you: No, you don't.

Imagine the stupidest thing you've ever said going viral on YouTube.

Imagine your most embarrassing moment -- perhaps you soiled your pants once? -- trending on Vine.

Heck, you're gonna probably be caught making out with your first girlfriend on a park bench. Looking back on my first makeout session, in a stairwell outside of St. Ephrem's church with Andrea H., it was a complete mess that -- thankfully -- was not captured on video.

No one should have to see that.

And to the techno-idiots who say, "Oh, it's just like a phone!"... Let me explain the obvious to you: We don't have our phones taped to our foreheads all day long.

Our phones are in our pockets, and when you take them out to record a video, it's fairly obvious that something is going one. Why else would you hold your phone up and point it at me?

Glass is persistent and already pointed at the subject by design -- phones are NOT.

Isn't that obvious? If someone at the gym takes out a camera and starts taking pictures of dudes -- which happened at my gym in Manhattan -- they get tossed (and they also put a sign up saying "Don't take your phone out in the locker room").

Having said all of this... rudeness is the even bigger issue.

When a person takes out their phone to check email, we've all adopted a way to deal with that. Some of us stop talking and wait for the person to finish what they're doing.

Some folks say, "Are you listening to me?"

Others say, "Put your phone away, dear, and try and be present."

We are already dealing with the issue of people not knowing how absolutely f@#$ing rude they're being with smartphones. Imagine if those phones were strapped TO THEIR FACES! No one has any idea if they're focused on the gadget or the conversation at hand.

With Glass, there's really no sign that the person isn't paying attention. For folks who are new to the platform, they do have to look up like they're thinking. But folks who have been using it for a while? Not very perceptible.

The space between you and me is sacred. It's the last sacred place we have left, and Google Glass destroys it.

There is no social norm other that will solve it. They're just rude and obnoxious.

Will I buy them? Sure. It's my job to stay on top of these things.

Will I wear them? Maybe to take photos of my daughter or while mountain biking or snowboarding. But I'm not going to wear them to a dinner party.

Scott Heiferman, co-founder and CEO of Meetup, is one of the kindest and most considerate guys I've ever met. He summed up Google Glass perfectly: "I'm definitely going to punch someone in the face wearing Google Glasses."  [ ]

Glass Is about Google Advertising Tax
Bottom line: we're spending too much time on screens already. This trend started with TV, then moved to console games and on to computers. Now we have smartphones and tablets. Always-on culture is creating massive stress and anxiety in society, and the leading cause of death for young folks is trending to -- sadly -- suicide.

Now, I'm not saying that Google Glass will cause anyone to kill themselves, but I can say fairly confidently that the massive stress brought on by always-on culture is causing depression and anxiety, which can lead to people killing themselves.

The geniuses at Google are now so focused on building their advertising empire -- and that is their business -- that they want to take the few minutes you can't be marketed to away from you!

Think about it: Google's goal is to put a 25-45% tax on all advertising on the planet. If you're off your computer and smartphone, how do they reach you? They don't!

Slap Google Glass on you and they've now expanded the advertising network to the final 50% of your life you're not in front of a screen.

Oh joy!

All hail Google's innovations!

What's next?

Well, if you're driving your car you can't get advertisements... so what if google drives the car for you!!! Now you're entire f@#$ing dashboard can become an advertisement -- and it will be.

Glass, Google Fiber, Android, Chrome, YouTube and Self-driving cars are all in service of Google's goal of relentlessly hitting us with its never-ending advertising network.

This is innovation for market saturation.

So Are Wearables DOA?
Hell no. First, we don't know exactly how far the Glass thing will go. There certainly will be a couple of killer apps released in the coming months. Perhaps something for gaming? Dating? Performing surgery? You never know with these things.

For me, the bigger win will be the Apple iWatch.

You check your phone between 100 and 300 times a day, depending on your age. About 50% of that activity could take place on an oversized watch device. I envision an iBangle like Wonder Woman's bracelets (only without the ability to deflect bullets... for now!).

Imagine you take an iPhone and put it on your wrist sideways. Cut 1/3rd off -- of the phone, not your arm -- and that's the right size for the iBangle. Do that and you have plenty of room for emails, text messages, weather, time, stock prices and social media updates.

Now, you will still have to take out your phone to write emails and play games, I'm certain. But an iWatch will not make you look like an idiot, and won't make your friends want to punch you in the face.

I know that logic sounds silly, but it is socially acceptable to check your watch. That's why folks will embrace the iWatch 1,000 to 1 over Google Glass. Literally, there will be 1,000 iWatches for every pair of Google Glass.


1. Have you used Google Glass? / What do you think?
2. Do you want to punch anyone in the face for wearing them?
3. What do you think the killer app will be?
4. iWatch or Google Glass, which one? Why?

best @jason

PS - We've partnered with Xtreme Labs to bring you LAUNCH Mobile & Wearables on September 30th + October 1st in SF. We're looking for speakers, partners and startups. We're going to have 10 startups debut something awesome and 150 guests. Buy a ticket if you're baller:

PPS - Plus I'm putting up $100k in investment to the best company there (and I will join their board of advisors if they want me!). It's going to be an amazing, summit-style event (as opposed to our Launch Festival which is 6,000 and huge). That being said, we will have 10 scholarships for kick-ass founders, artist or students WHO HAVE BUILT SOMETHING. More here:

[ Read this editorial on the LAUNCH blog: ]

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