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?

Silly…?

Wearable Technology Image 1

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.

Geek Chic

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.”

Wearable Technology Image 2

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.”

Personal Space

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.”

Wearable Technology Image 3

Consumer Power

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.

Wearable Technology Image 4

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.

About the author

Cliff Wade

Founder and Chief Editor of TechDissected. I’m an avid Linux user, that’s addicted to music, electronics, the internet, computers, Android, iOS and everything tech related! Rocking a Google Pixel XL, iPhone 7 Plus and several other devices that go beep. Lover of #Cheeseburgers #UnsweetTea #Penguins #Nascar and the #HoustonTexans Gadgets and Gizmos are my specialty. Customer Suppport Specialist and Social Media Manager for TeslaCoilSW, the makers of Nova Launcher, Nova Launcher Prime and TeslaUnread. If you have any questions just ask as I’m always happy to help.

  • Not a bad look into the culture around Google Glass, @CliffWade:disqus

    Two points:

    1. Google Glass wearers, as you noted, have been mocked by many and as you also noted, many in the fashion industry see how “nerd chic” has/is influencing fashion. This said, I think the mocking of Google Glass wearers – endearingly referred to as Glassholes – will slow in time. Like anything else which is brand new to society, it simply takes a bit of time before shock and disparaging comments fade away. Then again, Google Glass could suffer the fashion fate of the fanny pack…

    The other consideration with wearable tech is realizing like all other mobile tech, Google Glass and other wearable teach will get smaller and more powerful. Sure, right now Google Glass users have a lil’ screen in front of their face yet in time, that small screen could simply become part of a normal optical lens which no one will be able to identify.

    2. Security. While I understand your point,

    “…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.”

    I believe this statement is, in our day and age, somewhat mute. For better or worse, we now have a worldwide culture wherein most people have a camera in their pocket. Mix that with city wide surveillance programs and a generation of younger global citizens who see privacy as something of the past, and I can’t come around to your point. Even without Google Glass, smartphone users are constantly taking photos to share on social sites like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat wherein the people in that photo have no idea they were placed in frame.

    I don’t think Google Glass is any different than the already photo happy and surveillance happy society we live in. Sure, Google Glass is a bit smaller meaning a random person on the street might not know if you are recording them or not but all said, that is already happening through public, business and government applications.

  • Hey @bradyale:disqus,

    You certainly have a lot of good points. And since this was actually a guest post on our site, my views are indeed slightly different than the article. I tend to side with you. Especially with regards to “comments will fade away” over time. I think this would happen much quicker if/when Google Glass were readily available to the public. But we know it’s not ready yet, and to me that is understandable. Google is doing everything in their power to make it right before it goes public. Smart move.

    As far as all the security, I think we’ve been out of that stage for a very long time. As mentioned, all the surveillance cameras we have in our cities and towns monitoring anything and everything gives us little to no privacy when we’re out and about.

    It’s scary to think that something can happen(such as crime) at a location that has no cameras, but yet they can track/find the criminal via cameras from the streets or other places of business, ATM machines or whatever. They are literally watching us 24/7, every step of the way.

    And to think that Google Glass is a security/privacy issue is to me totally absurd. In a way yes, because you have some sick people out there doing sick things with something like Google Glass possibly. But honestly, if they want to do it bad enough, they’ll find other ways so Google Glass isn’t their only option.

    And now with AndroidWear available, interacting with Google Glass, surely these security/privacy folks are going to complain about that too, or even more, because it’s just one more way to easily take pictures of whatever.

    • @CliffWade:disqus All great points. I couldn’t agree more.

      Personally what I think is the most interesting part of this is seeing how Google Glass and wearable tech like it can be morphed more seamlessly into fashion. Personally, I don’t own any wearable tech and I don’t think I will until it looks, feels and is better integrated into fashion/style.

      Don’t get me wrong, I see the benefit of wearable tech but I think it needs to make some leaps within embedding in everyday fashion.

      • @bradyale:disqus Prior to 3 weeks ago, I would have totally agreed with you. Even with seeing images of the Moto360 which looks magnificent, I think we had a long way to go.

        Then I received my Martian Notifier smart watch(non AndroidWear) and I have to admit, it’s a beautiful watch that in all aspects doesn’t look like a smart watch really. It’s not big, clunky, bulky or any of that kind of stuff. It really looks like a normal watch and I’m quite impressed. This coming from someone who has worn the same $350 Fossil watch for nearly 10 years now.

        I truly think the Moto360 is going to really step up that “fashion” sense when it finally gets released and I think everyone will be following suit. We’re really not far off from having that happen and having those smart watches look like your normal every day watch.

        • @CliffWade:disqus See that is the thing, even though I know it is, I don’t really consider smart watches (categorical generalization) to be wearable tech. They are yet because they take the form of a highly known piece of wearable machinery, I look at smart watches as outside the bounds of wearable tech.

          For me, the wearable tech category is comprised of new devices which the market isn’t normalized to yet. One of those products is Google Glass. The entire concept of wearable tech always reminds me of Jordi from Star Trek – a piece of tech which wholly amends the way people see you and how you see the world. The smart watch just doesn’t fall into that category for me.

          A question: how advanced do you think wearable tech items like Google Glass can become? Jordi is nice but in truth, I have the feeling most people are thinking wearable tech items will one day transform vision into a blend of human optics and terminator style identification systems able to alter the world around the user with information recalled and utilized for decision making at a moments notice.

          While I don’t believe the overlay of red would be a feature most people want, I do think a blending of human optics and that style of vision is somewhere on the horizon. The seamless blending of human optics with internal microchips.

          Thoughts?