We’ve heard plenty about what people are supposed to think about wearable technology from the industry itself, but what’s the truth? Has the public really embraced wearables and are we entering an age that a few years ago would not have looked out of place in a science fiction film? The advent of Google Glass in particular is perhaps one of the most controversial technological steps forward, with as many haters as there are lovers of the super-slick glasses. So what’s the word on the street? Are we all starting to ‘plug in’, or is there still a kickback against what some see as invasive technology?
Glass launched onto an unsuspecting world in 2012 and was met by a combination of awe and quite a bit of pointing and laughing. It received the ultimate accolade by being spoofed in The Simpsons (as the “Oogle Goggles”), as well as countless write-ups in tech magazines, newspapers and online. Glass, if nothing else, certainly made an impact, sported by the rich and famous, featuring on the fashion catwalks of Paris and in Vogue fashion spreads.
But is that all Glass (and for that matter other wearables too) is? A fashion accessory? Critics say that it looks ‘silly’ (and leggings and headbands in the ‘80s didn’t?), and there is legislation currently being considered by several US states banning drivers from wearing Glass whilst driving.
So the main issue that many people have with wearables like Google Glass is how it makes the wearer look – namely, a bit of a twit! However, some are trying to turn that negative into a positive by embracing wearables in what is becoming known as ‘Geek Chic’, championed by such luminaries as Lady Gaga. Eyewear designer Stevie Boi, who works with the New York-based singer, thinks that his clients love the ‘techno-chic’ and Geek Chic look. “I think Google Glass has a chance to change the face of eyewear and technology all at once.”
Tasha Lewis, a researcher at Cornell University who studies the impact of technology in the fashion industry, agrees. “I think there is a geek-influenced fashion wave happening,” she says. “Everybody is not necessarily a geek but you can look like one and I think that is where you want to position the product.”
However, there’s another worry being voiced by the blogosphere commentators, and that’s the issue of security. Admittedly, this is an issue that’s focused purely on Glass and not other types of wearables, but it is something that needs to be addressed if people are to have confidence in this type of technology. The issue is that Glass wearers can effectively take photographs using Glass without other people’s permission, and this invasion of privacy is a concern. As one blog commentator put it: “Blink at the wrong moment and you have images on your device that could land you in trouble.”
But perhaps one of the most common comments when the question ‘Would you wear Google Glass’ is asked is, “No. I don’t want to look like an idiot.” Google and other wearable manufacturers need to overcome this aversion to ‘looking like an idiot’ if they are to persuade the buying public to truly embrace AR wearables in particular. But within the industry, R&D specialists like Plastic Logic believe that not only will consumers eventually come around to liking wearables, but that they are the future.
Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Plastic Logic, sums it up: “Flexible electronics is a reality, already proven through the development and manufacture of plastic, bendable displays and sensors,” he adds. “For the first time a fully organic, plastic, flexible AMOLED demonstration has been achieved with a real industrial fabrication process. This marks the start of a revolution in wearable products, the next frontier in consumer electronics – 2014 will be the year that wearable technology starts to go mainstream.”
About The Author
Charlotte blogs about gadgets and technology, covering everything from the latest mobile advancements to display technology. When she’s not online Charlotte enjoys swimming, cycling and travelling the world.