NEW YORK —
In its current, early version, Google Glass feels bulky on my face and when I look in the mirror I see a futuristic telemarketer looking back at me. Wearing it on the subway while a homeless man shuffled through the car begging for change made me feel as if I was sporting a diamond tiara. I sank lower in my seat as he passed. If Google is aiming for mass appeal, the next versions of Glass have to be much smaller and less conspicuous.
Though no one knows for sure where wearable devices will lead us, Rodrigo Martinez, life sciences chief strategist at the Silicon Valley design firm IDEO, has some ideas. “The reason we are talking about wearables is because we are not at implantables yet,” he says. “(But) I’m ready. Others are ready.”
Nevermind implants, I’m not sure I’m even ready for Google Glass.
Specs in place for the first time, I walked out of Google’s Manhattan showroom on a recent Friday afternoon with a sense of unease. A wave of questions washed over me. Why is everyone looking at me? Should I be looking at them? Should I have chosen the orange Glass instead of charcoal?
Ideally, Google Glass lets you do many of the things we now do with our smartphones, such as taking photos, reading news headlines or talking to our mothers on Sunday evenings — hands-free. But it comes with a bit of baggage.
Glass feels heavier when I’m out in public or in a group where I’m the only person wearing it. If I think about it long enough my face starts burning from embarrassment. The device has been described to me as “the scarlet letter of technology” by a friend. The most frequent response I get from my husband when I try to slip Glass on in his presence is “please take that off.” This is the same husband who encouraged me to buy a sweater covered in googly-eyed cats.