Google Glass vs. iWatch . Google vs. Apple. Clash of the Titans. These two companies attack the challenge of wearable computing from two completely different perspectives. How will consumers respond?
It all starts with physical location, or what real-estate the devices occupy on the user’s body:
iWatch : The wrist is an easy target as it has been the home of technological advancements from the beginning of the wristwatch era, c. 1920. People are used to wearing technology on their wrists. It is easy to imagine that by the time we see the iWatch 3gs, it specs will surpass even the best of today’s smartphones. But in all its glory, the iWatch is really just moving the tech from your pocket to your wrist, with a smaller display. Or, in a less ambitious scenario, the smartwatch is merely a satellite hub to your existing smartphone, showing filtered notifications as needed, with a limited touch surface to interact with. Plus, you still have to pull up your sleeve to see the display.
Glass : The face, on the other hand, is a much steeper ascent. For Glass to win, humans will need to get used to wearing a computer on their face. Yet the potential benefits may far outweigh the novelty, especially if Google can successfully position the product as a coveted fashion fetish which transcends tech.
Glass, however, doesn’t just shift the location of the phone screen: instead it offers a completely new computing paradigm.
The unique benefits of smartglass are as follows:
1) true hands-free computing
2) low profile camera that records true first person PoV video/stills
3) head tracking (it knows where you are looking)
4) private audio (via bone conduction)
5) private viewing of information
None of these can be accomplished with a watch. In short, the glasses afford a far more intimate connection to the infosphere than any other wearable tech, short of implants.
Importantly, Glass superimposes net information atop your natural view of the world. Restated: users of smartphones and smartwatches find themselves sucked into screens, walling off the outside world. Smartglass interfaces instead place a small semi-transparent overlay seamlessly atop actual waking reality.
And finally, Glass dramatically reduces the time and effort required to retrieve information from your files or the internets. Well-engineered smartglass will reduce tasks from a 12+ second process to a sub-3 second process. Smartglass also reduces muscular exertion for same: compare getting a phone out of your pocket and pushing a few buttons and typing to simply tilting your head skyward and saying “ok glass“. And while that ~8 seconds savings doesn’t seem like a lot, multiply it times the average 200 times a day a user accesses their smartphone, 365 days a year, and it’s massive. [In fact, it potentially saves users 30 minutes a day, or almost 200 hours a year!]
Results? A lot more net queries. Information is no longer at your fingertips, its closer than your fingertips. Information retrieval so fluid that it becomes ingrained into one’s very consciousness… ideally becoming a genuinely natural extension of our biological brains and thought processes.
Google Glass, 2013
Apple iWatch, conceptual rendering
- Is Glass actually Augmented Reality?
- Poll: Best applications for Glass
- What other intelligent eyewear products compete with Google Glass?