The Stack Archive

Why poor customer experience is making Google Glass increasingly unpopular

Wed 9 Jul 2014

Why are people getting their Google Glass ripped from their face? Why are they being banned from wearing them in some establishments? And why, now, is a campaign being started to kick them off local networks?

Where has this hostility at this innovative wearable interface come from? After all, all it does is allow the wearer to interact with Google apps like Gmail, Google+ and Maps through a small LCD display. The Google Glass is voice activated and a touch pad on the side lets you scroll up and down through the menus. Oh yes, and it has a camera to take stills and HD video and upload them straight to the web.

What possible reason could we have for hating them or their wearers?

Do we hate the wearers for their ostentatious show of wealth? At $1500 it is hardly up to Porsche standard, so, perhaps we hate Google for profiteering as the Glass costs so little to make? In the UK maybe, but the USA? Come on.

Maybe we just dislike a show off? I do recall a few years back feelings on wanting to stamp on a colleague’s early iPhone when she would whip the thing out at the slightest provocation.

Maybe, for some, it is just poorly-thought through technology being pushed out by Google, newest co-optee to the Evil Empire.

The list of places where one is banned from using them is rising. High street ‘restaurant’ McDonald’s has adopted the moral high ground. Those bastions of right–thinking, casinos, ban them in case the wearer is cheating. They are banned from cinemas for copyright reasons (fair enough). From cars for safety reasons (fair enough, again).

But, there is a really serious issue here that is being articulated by the Find a Google Glass and kick it from the network campaign. The protagonist, a critical engineer  and artist, has published a script that allows people to block Glass (and the wearer, wonderfully nick-named Glassholes) from their local network.

He says the move is in response to a student who said “the presence of Google Glass worn by audience at an ITP graduate exhibition left him feeling understandably uneasy; it was not possible to know whether they were recording, or even streaming what they were recording to a remote service over WiFi.”

This growing suspicion of Google Glass reflects a pervasive unease across society with technology in general and, in particular, with its capacity for invasion into our personal lives through surveillance by the state, strangers and even friends with smartphones.

This deepening public disquiet should be a worry and on the agenda for all developers of obvious technology like Glass. Because, as well as being a moral issue, this is also about customer experience.  Not so much the functionality or speed or responsiveness of the device, but the experience the customer/user has where they are wearing them – how it makes them feel. If they are to be mocked, vilified, mugged, banned, abused, starved, isolated, and cut off, then the experience is poor.

For Google and other manufacturers, the solution to these worries must be better than just more and variant technology or doing a bit of PR; it is about seeing the world as the user does and not through their own rose-tinted Glass.

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