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How the Camera Doomed Google Glass

How the Camera Doomed Google Glass The Atlantic


Google Glass wasn't just a way to keep a screen in front of your face all the time; it was also a way to record everything going in front of you. And it turns out very few people are willing to be viewed as walking, talking invasions of privacy.

Mass adoption of new tech inevitably means figuring out new social norms. Is it rude to check your phone at dinner? How well do you need to know someone to be Facebook friends with them? Must we be kind and rewind? These are at first tricky questions, and ones that took a long time to figure out.

Without a camera attached to their heads, Google Glass users may have had time to measure out these boundaries. Perhaps Google Glass could have been used the same way we use sunglasses—usually taken off when we're with people, on when needed. But armed with a camera, Google Glass was quickly banned in restaurantsbars, and even from Google's own shareholder meetings. Pictures taken with the Glass camera were usually deemed "creepy." The Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project called it "one of the most privacy invasive devices ever."

Google Glass's camera created an untenable situation on both sides of the device. Google Glass users had to deal with feeling like a glasshole in public. Pictures shaming Google Glass users spotted out public were social media catnip. And anyone caught in front of a Google Glass user had to assume that they were being recorded. It was tooBlack Mirror-ish, too fast.

Stashed in: Lean, Privacy does not exist., Awesome, Google FAIL, Virtual Reality!, Camera, Sergey Brin

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Google Glass was an interesting prototype. Hopefully they've learned from it.

I'm sure we'll see a camera-less version in the future, perhaps rebranded or embedded in other devices.

My proposal for getting early access to a Google glass prototype was roundly rejected.  Instead, they went for people that would be influencers with large social following and for "glasshole" type exhibitionist behaviors.  My simple scenario for recording my kids little league game while keeping score was too prosaic for them, but it's funny that those type of scenarios are still valid while the whole creepy glasshole ones have gone away.  I ended up solving my recording problem with a Gopro, a few mounts, and a wireless controller.   I can see taking the camera out of Glass and still being useful.  I still like the idea of location-based and context specific shape recognition augmented reality social messaging. 

Doesn't it seem like the plan all along was not to take this product to market?

They treated it as a learning experiment instead of looking for applications like the one you described. 

If they'd treated it as an experiment, they would have been looking for applications like that one.

They were treating it as if they knew who the market and what the applications were....then ignored anything that didn't fit those preconceived notions.

Then it's useful as an example of how not to be lean.

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