Project Glass: Putting you back in the moment (or not)

The reactions to Google’s video have been pretty mixed. Some can’t wait for “mustaches on everyone” apps (and “porn everywhere” of course) while others see dark future visions of mind control and a state of total surveillance.
Project Glass
Original image via Thomas Hawk

Google claims that the new Project Glass phones enable you to “explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment”.

I’m certain some people will understand how to make the best out of using Project Glass like phones while many others won’t get it right. Here are some examples of how technology can have a positive or negative impact on our lives.

  • Facebook is a great tool to catch up with friends but if you keep checking it obsessively because you feel a lack of social connection it might prevent you from taking action and getting in touch with people in real life again.
  • Television can be a great medium to learn about current events and entertain yourself but if you watch TV to escape your everyday life, it does not help you to overcome your problems. In fact avoidance behavior can intensify many problems (such as anxiety, depression…).
  • Email is a convenient way to exchange information but if it interrupts your work every 15 minutes it might prevent you from getting things done that really matter.

So just like drinking too much coffee or tea or doing whatever too much, technology can be also (ab)used in a way that it was not meant for. Big surprise!

What we can expect from Project Glass

All of you who use a headset with your phone know that it can be quite convenient to have both hands free while talking on the phone.

If Project Glass like phones become more common, people most likely will spend more time on the phone. So being more on the phone while walking down the street is not really putting you back in the moment. The processing power of human brains is limited, so diverting part of our attention away from our surroundings has an impact on our experience.

Instead of experiencing the current moment clearer, people will be even more caught up in their thoughts.

A few months after people got used to the notification messages, we will also see similar shapes on billboards and in ads trying to catch our attention.

While the health bar comments made me smile, it is true that having a “user interface for your life™” will make a difference in our lives.

I often feel the urge of touching on my netbook screen because I mix it up with the touchscreen of my Asus Transformer Prime (Android tablet). A few years ago I also caught myself looking for undo shortcuts while drawing on paper (after using a graphic tablet for a long time).

Most likely people will quickly get used to interact with their Project Glass phones in certain ways. Nod to accept calls. Nod when hearing the default ringtone.

In the future we might not have people staring down on their phones anymore while waiting for a bus but instead gaze into the emptiness while watching movies or shaking their heads while playing games. (Metal headbanging music games anyone?)

There will be also countless situations in which people smile in your direction but of course just because of the funny movie they are watching.

The user interface will also become part of our memories. We will have it in our dreams and also remember certain situations (like that moment when we enjoyed the view from our balcony on that sunny evening and received the email that we got fired).

The average person living in a city is exposed to about 5000 advertising messages a day. Needless to say location aware ads and other shenanigans will become part of our daily lives as well so the number of ads we will be exposed to most likely will go up. Not with flashy pop ups (hopefully) but rather with extra information that we get and promotion codes we can redeem.

Technology takes over

Project Glass like phones will be great for those who know how to use them. Unfortunately with more invasive technology and technology becoming even more part of our lives many people will use it in a way that will remove them even more from real life.

Many people will also become more dependent on technology and therefore be less functional once there is something like a power out or software error.

Stopping the progress is no solution but educating people how to use technology is a first step. It is unlikely to happen of course because companies know how to ride on the “cool wave” and exploit this, lock people into their ecosystem and milk them.

In the end those who look for ways of escaping real life will have better possibilities to do so in the future and those who use technology responsibly will have greater tools to make their lives easier.

Want to know what app will absolutely rock the Android download charts? The most unobtrusive user interface for Project Glass (or a porn app of course).