Monday, 3 June 2013

Looking into the (Google) Glass ball

I have been following Google’s recent venture in wearable technology, the Glass and tried to understand what this is going to bring to the eyewear users’ experience, what is it going to look like, is the look of it important? And how is it going to influence our social relations?

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The Fashion Item
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Google tried associating itself to fashion by collaborating with a label like Diane Von Furstenberg, a brand with some history, for sure, but certainly not the first to spring to mind as an embracer of technology. I am not sure how well that worked as a PR stunt with fashion bloggers and editors being either critical of or just baffled at the whole wearable-technology-on-the-catwalk thing?

photos from vogue.com

My opinion is that fashion and high-tech seem to have different objectives and connect to their customers in very different ways. For now, the high-tech companies that invest in wearable technology are juggernauts like Google and Apple with products that need to appeal to a wide customer base and therefore are simplified to their minimum common aesthetic-denominator. On the other hand Fashion labels, even global ones like Louis Vuitton or Gucci, do exactly the opposite; their aesthetic code is much more specific to a particular customer and therefore don’t want to look like they are trying to appeal to everyone. A good example of what I mean comes from eyewear; Prada’s remit is different from Google’s remit, the Glass.


This is probabily why Google decided to adjust their tactic a little and partnered-up with an eyewear brand like Warby Parker instead. Not a high fashion brand but one that has established itself as synonymous with beautiful eyewear for most people, and particularly, for people that don’t want to make a fashion statement but maybe an ethical one; in fact, Warby Parker donates one pair of glasses to someone in need for each one they sell.

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The Social Issue
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Getting Warby Parker on board was the right move to try and resolve the aesthetic challenge but how about the social implications of the Glass? Well, Google came up with a code of conduct for anyone developing Apps for the glass. In a time of heated debates over the intrusiveness of technology in our daily lives this must be the first time social etiquette has taken such an important role in the development of a new technology.





Although wearable technology may be the new notch on eyewear’s timeline, the history of eyewear so far has been a ping-pong game between glasses-as-fashion and glasses-as-technology.

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