March 25, 2013

"Would You Rather Have Google Glass or a Smart Watch?"

"When you think of the world five years from now, do you picture the masses wearing smart eyewear or Dick Tracy-style smart watches?"

I see the problem with Google Glass — it will probably make most people look stupid and even if you happen to be someone who might look cool, people won't give you credit for looking cool because they'll feel that you're intruding on them in ways they don't even quite understand. Are you streaming me to the whole world? Are you finding out things that will be used to take advantage of me? That is, either you'll either make yourself look stupid or you'll make other people feel that you're making them look stupid. Must we all self-defensively gear up? And what's to stop people from snatching those things right off your face? Not only will they attract the traditional thief, they may provoke drunks and other hotheads to grab them and break them, the way bullies in old movies used to swipe the nerd's glasses and stomp on them.

But a Smart Watch... what's the point? I used to wear a watch, but I stopped when I got a cell phone which was fully capable of informing me of the time. I carry the phone in a pocket or a handbag, and what's my motivation to strap it to my wrist? I realize that's what people with pocket watches must have said when the original wristwatches came out.

And, now that I think of it, I have engaged in some activities — e.g., running — where I've rigged a less-than-perfect way to bring the iPhone along. (I've carried it in my hand, stuck it inside a sports-bra, and bought a little "waist pack" gizmo.) And I've been in situations — e.g., paddleboarding — where I needed some waterproof container, didn't have one, then bought something that was clumsy, ugly, and hard to use. And when I go swimming, I'm forced to leave the phone in the car/hotel room or I've got to hide it under a towel and then worry that someone will steal it. So, okay, the Smart Watch would be pretty useful, especially if it's cheap, comfortable, waterproof, and doesn't make you a theft target. Make it not work if someone else has it (and inform the thief community).

So I'm voting: Smart Watch.


Russ said...

In 5 years, google glass won't LOOK like google glass. It'll look like regular glasses. From a distance, it probably won't be discernable from regular eyewear.

And nobody wears watches anymore.

Mary Beth said...

No contest, Google Glass.

I would not look cool wearing it but I don't look cool now. The people that I spend my time with would think it's awesome.

Meade said...

Great - now we'll all be under Apple house arrest, wearing electronic tracking bracelets - albeit, I hope, with the option of turning them off.

Kit said...

I haven't heard that they're waterproof, but I could see getting a smart watch, if I had enough phone activity to warrant it (I don't think I do).

I run, but not with my iPhone, it's just too bulky and I kind of like the peace and quite.

Google glass, maybe, if I could get them into my own eyeglasses. I'm intrigued with the ability to ID features and places - that's the geographer in me.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I usually wear a cheap, one-touch heart rate monitor.

My heart rate is now 63 bpm.

Thought you might want to know.

Erika said...

I think, neither.

And I wear a jewelry-type watch because it's pretty, and I don't want to have my phone in my hand constantly.

Aridog said...

I am a troglodyte...however, I will buy the Google Glass(s) when they are available. The heads-up aspect of Google-Glasses sounds useful. It sounds like images will appear to be large to your eye(s). Unlike the miniaturization of computer visualization in to awkward palm sized cell phones and now to watches with more complications than a Breitling Navitimer World.

One major benefit, until someone figures how to economically type text merely by thinking it, is that assholes won't be "texting" at dinner, etc.

mark said...

I would stay away from Google Glass until they work out the perspective problems. There is plenty of older HUD research to show that their current design is going to cause lots of eye strain, headaches, and other problems.

They really need to redesign the physical implementation. Once they get that worked out it will be interesting to use.

Nonapod said...

Watches are for the 20th century.

virgil xenophon said...

Watches are becoming more like the vestigial neck-tie--a fashion statement (although they always were, just now moreso as their functional aspect is being increasingly substituted for via the ubiquitous cell-phone.)

Freeman Hunt said...

Watch. Wasn't there a Seinfeld about wearing glasses? A new style will develop with a thick armband for a larger screen.

What about pants with screens built into the top of the thigh?

I think devices will eventually have no screen at all and will wirelessly link into whatever type and style of screen one wears that day. You'll be able to buy clothing and accessories with screens.

Larry J said...

I've read that in the community where Google is beta-testing Glass, the wearers are known as "Glassholes." At least one bar has explicitly banned Google Glass because they don't want their patrons being the subject of clandestine videos (it's much easier than with a smart phone).

I have a smart phone but still wear a cheap watch because there are many places where I work where phones are prohibited for security purposes.

Nonapod said...

I think devices will eventually have no screen at all and will wirelessly link into whatever type and style of screen one wears that day. You'll be able to buy clothing and accessories with screens.

Clothes made of piezoelectric material will also be able to generate power for such devices as you move in them.

One day maybe people will just put on a unitard with sophisticated electronics woven into it that will project whatever clothes you want onto your body.

Kit said...

Freeman - there's a TED talk on that very subject (not just clothes, either).

Personally, I've been waiting for this since the windshield map in Starman.

Freeman Hunt said...

I also think they'll eventually develop the technology to make screens that the user can toggle between being flexible like fabric and rigid like a traditional screen. So your sleeve would be a sleeve until you wanted it to be a screen. Then when you finished with the screen, it could go back to being a sleeve again.

Dante said...

It seems women spend a lot of time on their eyes with make-up, and even drugs to improve the size of eyelashes, etc. Would a woman really want to go cyborg? I somehow doubt it.

Freeman Hunt said...

Yeah, it would be nice to be able to use furniture and walls and whatnot for screens.

Balfegor said...

Google glass will not catch on until it's Google Contact Lenses. (Even if they minaturise it so it fits in a non-clunky set of spectacles, I imagine you'll still be able to tell the glasses are some kind of screen + video recorder).

sinz52 said...

The advantage that waterproof wristwatches have over smartphones may disappear soon.

Both Sony and Samsung have just unveiled waterproof smartphones. Samsung's waterproof smartphone is claimed to remain operational even if submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.

Now you can take your smartphone into the shower with you. In fact, if it gets dirty with stains or fingerprints, you can just wash it with soap and running water.

Freeman Hunt said...

Electronics are currently clutter. I think all that will eventually be gone from the home. All will be built-in and on demand.

Brew Master said...

I really doubt that Google Glasses will take off in the mass market until they do not look like cyborg eyewear.

Eventually styling will hide what they are outwardly and plenty of people will want to adopt them at that point.

A smart watch probably won't supplant a smart phone, the screen size just cannot compete. On a wrist, any screen will need to be to small to be of much use. However, a smart watch combined via bluetooth connection to smart glasses (not necessarily google glasses) would be a nice combination.

The wearable computer that is always-on and feeding information to it's users will become prevalent at some point, just as smart phones are now.

Not everyone will want one, but enough will. Frankly I'd love to have a combination of wearable computer/phone/glasses. I won't be a first adopter, I never am, I wait a generation or two for most of the bugs to be worked out before I buy-in.

Freeman Hunt said...

Was it Snow Crash where some people made careers of collecting massive amounts of data to upload to searchable databases? Google Glass reminds me of that. I think that ugly bit of future is well on its way. Facebook can already suggest tags for people based on facial recognition.

Nonapod said...

One day (possibly withing the next 10 years) huge flat panel displays will be so inexpensive that they'll just be everywhere anyway. Imagine a wall sized display (7 feet by 13 feet) that's super thin and costs $50.

bwebster said...

I'd buy a smart watch, simply because it's a pain to pull my phone out of my pants or coat pocket.

Google Glasses (or other smart glasses) -- probably never. They manage to turn geekness creepy.

edutcher said...

I'll stick with my Galaxy Tab 2.

bagoh20 said...

The limiting factor with all this technology is screen size. They are still too small. This is where Google glass works and the watch does not. I say the watch has no market and the glasses a very limited one. The current handheld format will persist until a larger portable display idea is developed.

You won't need the glasses to do the intruding. All that's needed is a camera. Transparency for all except the government is our future.

Enjoy the decline.

Scott M said...

It doesn't matter which becomes dominant. Either way, the surreptitious nose-picker's days are numbered.

bagoh20 said...

Why do people need to know the time to the minute all day long? I stopped wearing a watch as soon as I got a cell phone in the 90s. I only wore the watch then because it had a calculator, which I do need constantly. I bet I only look at the time on my device a few times a week. Everything seem to happen whether I know what time it is or not. Maybe I'm just not important to the world.

Freeman Hunt said...

Here's an idea. No more wearing anything. Data projectors in every room that target the displays directly into people's eyes.

Not advocating this, just riffing on future possibilities in technology.

Freeman Hunt said...

Then everyone wears sunglasses outside where there are no projectors.

Peter said...

A Smart Watch is like a Smart Typewriter- it's instantly obsolete.

Gen 1 of Google Glass will fail, but it's got big potential.

Unlike that other thing.

And, umm, the remaining functions of a wristwatch are (1) So you can surreptitiously read the time when it would be socially awkward to look at your phone, and (2) so you can ostentatiously consult it to remind someone that you've got to go.

Kevin said...

Screw all that mess. Tricorder.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And nobody wears watches anymore.

That is pretty much an elitist sweeping generalization.

I know that we are outliers because of our location and lifestyle, but almost everyone that I see wears a watch. Why do we do this? know what fucking time it is.

I don't even have a cell phone other than a basic make phone calls model and buy about an hour of time which lasts me the whole year. There is no point to a cell phone since we don't have cell reception in the majority of our area. In fact, AT&T refused to sell us phones or sign us up at their store based on our address. So...we had to lie about where we lived.

My husband has one, with basic functions for work. Things like taking messages and making calls. It is usually left in the truck and/or turned off cell phone reception and he doesn't want calls anyway when he is working. And really doesn't want to drop the damned thing into the river or someone's septic tank.... been there done that. When back in cell range, he will turn it on and see if there is a message.

I think he used the camera function once. And never ever has sent a text message or used the web functions. There is nothing that important to bother with.

I know....we live in a different country and a different world than the people in urban areas. Even IF we could use a cell phone more efficiently, I would probably keep it turned off most of the time because...I don't want calls. We unplug our land line phones at 6pm most evenings because....WE DON'T WANT TO BE DISTURBED. If it were a family emergency? So what? we aren't going to jump into the car and drive 600 to 800 miles in the middle of the night. If it is plumbing emergency, usually someone out of water? Same thing. Leave a message. Deal with it until the morning. We have to have a life.

I see no reason to be umbilically connected to a telephone, cell or land line.

Same reason I wouldn't want a "smart watch". I just want to know what time it is, and that [the time] really doesn't matter that much either.

Anthony said...

I still wear a watch because oftentimes I need to know the time to the minute, for example, catching a bus. I have a phone but it's easier to glance at my wrist than pull the phone out.

I want a pair of glasses to replace my computer screen. Of course, then we'd have people surfing the Net at work and no one would know. Not that I'd do that, of course. . . . .*ahem*

Sam L. said...

Neither. Not interested.

gregq said...

Not welcome at any social event. You want to get out your camera and film our (relatively private) conversation? You can screw off.

Bruce Hayden said...

The limiting factor with all this technology is screen size. They are still too small. This is where Google glass works and the watch does not. I say the watch has no market and the glasses a very limited one. The current handheld format will persist until a larger portable display idea is developed.

I mentioned this the other day with the discussion about everyone getting out their phones after landing in a plane.

The basic problem is that more and more functionality is being shoehorned into smart phones, and as a result the form factor for cell phones continues to inch up, maybe half an inch to an inch a year. But they are getting somewhat unweildly now. Compounding that, they are increasingly fragile, which requires ever more robust cases, at least for us klutzes out there (I use the top Otter case for my iPhone, and even it has vulnerabilities). You are faced with a choice today of low functionality and low price or high functionality and large size, with more functionality seemingly requiring bigger size.

I got an iPad this year to go with my iPhone, and to fill that gap between laptops and smart phones. Would have preferred the Office lite in the Microsoft Windows OS pads, but that OS isn't ready for prime-time yet. In any case, partially justified the tablet by replacing an ebook reader. It was supposed to allow me to not carry a heavy bulky laptop, but I often find myself traveling with all three: laptop, tablet, and smart phone. I can justify the addition of the tablet because of my profession and my lifestyle. Many cannot, and must pick, and, thus, the trend on one end of larger smart phones, and on the other end, lighter laptops.

I think that somewhat different problems are being addressed by these two gadgets. The watch phone is essentially providing a convenient place for a smart phone. Just look at the photo of those people on the plane in Ann's blog a day or two ago, and you can see the utility of this gadget - instead of holding the phone in the pictured left-handed clinch, it would always be conveniently available on one's wrist.

The Google glasses, at least for me, would address a different problem with modern technology, and that is output size. I routinely use my iPad for display of stuff that I could display on my iPhone because it is easer to read. Think this blog, maps, reading books, etc. I am not really all that interested in constantly being able to film everything, but rather, would be quite interested in a heads-up-display. I think that I could survive with that, combined with maybe a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. (Already using a Bluetooth keyboard with the iPad, and that works out ok - not good enough for heavy typing, but that isn't a Bluetooth problem, but rather, trying to match the iPad's form factor to a usable keyboard).

Should be interesting.

Balfegor said...

RE: Bruce Hayden:

Would have preferred the Office lite in the Microsoft Windows OS pads, but that OS isn't ready for prime-time yet.

I purchased one of the Surface Pros. It's actually quite nice. Battery life could be better, but it's decent enough.

The blend between the desktop interface and the tablet interface is pretty bad, but a lot of that is just the need for legacy support. And the fact that the Office team seems to have consistently opposed any tablet integration for Office since at least 2004, when manufacturers first started selling slate-style Windows tablets. I mean, really -- it doesn't seem to me like it would be that hard to adapt Word or Powerpoint to the Windows tablet interface, with swipe out menus and improved drag and drop and highlighting, etc. (Excel would be harder), but they clearly aren't even trying.

Bruce Hayden said...

And nobody wears watches anymore.

Well, watches are more of a fashion statement for many these days. I wear one of those with a single dot on the top, and no notches, marks, etc. around the rest of the watch face. So, it is pretty much impossible to tell the actual time, but rather, are limited to estimating, which I can usually do within a couple of minutes. At the opposite end, my computers are synchronized to the fraction of a second every couple of days. Did this because it is far easier to synchronize the data on computers if their clocks are pretty well synchronized - if two files with the same pathname are showing having been created or accessed at almost exactly the same time, they are almost always the same file. Most cell phones these days are set to a time by the cell signal, and so are probably within a second or so of being accurate (and usually don't show seconds, so this inaccuracy is irrelevant to most).

So, why not combine the functionality of a watch with that of a smart phone, when many seem to be using their cell phones as their watches already, with their watches going to waste?

First, there is the recharging problem. My watch runs for years without replacing the batteries (have had to replace them twice in over 10 years of use), whereas I can run through the batteries on my iPhone in less than a day of heavy data use. You could take the watch off and charge it over night, or maybe remove the phone part and charge it separately. But, that is a point of failure. Or, maybe inductive charging, but that would require spending a bunch of time around stuff that might ultimately be found to be hazardous. Or, just a charging cord, but that would get in the way).

Another problem is the signalling value of a good watch. Several of the women in my life wear gold Rolexes for just this reason, I think. The one piece of jewelry that they can wear that says that they are substantial, but not dressing to show that. Married women who want to show this can wear a big rock, but on non-married women this looks ostentatious. Sure, you could do that with wrist phones, but it is quite a different thing to justify a $10+k watch when you expect to wear it for many years, and maybe pass it down to one's children, and something else when the technology is evolving so quickly.

Another is that wrists are most often quite a bit more robust than phones, and a lot of things that wrists survive handily would probably destroy a phone. For me, the most pertinent is with skiing. Used to go through a lot of watches skiing, through probably overly agressive pole plants, maybe as a result of racing in high school and college.

Still, I would probably buy a watch phone if they were available, and they figured out a good charging solution. Would just wear a "dumb" watch while engaging in sports that could destroy a watch phone, esp. since when doing a lot of them, you are out of good cell range anyway.

Aridog said...

When the time comes...if the Google Glasses device can connect to a WWAN hot spot (like the one I have from Verizon) clipped to my belt, which can allow me to connect directly to my home local area network via a Comcast moden and my router, from anywhere in the country, I'll be very interested. Add a small form factor wireless mouse [like Vick's inhaler sized] device with a mini-scroll wheel I can operate with one hand ... and voila'!

I could have "seen" a full AutoCAD drawing, magnified up to 400%, of one floor of a high rise office building, scrolling the image as need be, as I discussed the layout over the phone, with some one in that building, this morning...and done so far away from my computer if necessary.

Oh, yes...I could learn to love the Google Eyes glasses.

elkh1 said...

Smart Watch is smarter than a pair of glasses that make you look stupider than you already are.

Smart Watch which is made of "gorilla glass" or sapphire glass, flexible and bendable. A Smart bracelet watch, the whole bracelet is a viewable screen, no straps, various color casings...

EMD said...

I also think they'll eventually develop the technology to make screens that the user can toggle between being flexible like fabric and rigid like a traditional screen. So your sleeve would be a sleeve until you wanted it to be a screen. Then when you finished with the screen, it could go back to being a sleeve again.

I think screens will be projected, a la Minority Report.
Thus the flexibility will be unneeded.

Although they already have flexible screens now.

Aridog said...

elkh1 ...okay, for gimmickery the fancy smart watch is fine...BUT 'splain to me how you incorporate Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN) connectivity to your home or office computer network (LAN)in to your smart watch? Yeah, a WWAN hot spot modem could be worn on your belt to give the connection...but what would give you a useful viewable image?

Say Architect D (24x36") or E (36x48") E sized layouts with zoom and scroll capability as if on a PC or Tablet? An image even a limited as the de rigueur today 3 inch diagonal LCD screen on cameras?

Bruce Hayden said...

Balfegor -

Nice concept. Like having a keyboard with a pad. Got a cheaper Windows pad because the MSFT one was in short supply. Biggest problem was freezes, where touch screen quit responding. Usually could dislodge that by rotating pad to change orientation and back, but not always. Appears problem was firmware, but was showing up with pads from other manufacturers, including MSFT. My iPad on the other hand works flawlessly, and I can lock it into landscape with a switch, allowing me to read in bed.

Next complaint is the Windows 8 interface. Absolutely horrid, but maybe not as bad for a phone as with other devices. The low density of commands immediately available is a big problem for heavy users. Worse, of course for a PC, but still bad - I don't need to scroll a bunch of pages to get the command/ application I want. Just really a continuation of the bad industrial design in their Ribbon Interface for the same low command density reasons.

Finally, the pad I bought couldn't" run real Windows apps, so why throw in all that Windows stuff?

I am happy with the iPad I replaced the WinPad with. Much more mature implementation, which integrated nicely with my iPhone - use the latter for Internet cell connectivity. And can use either to easily find the other.

Bruce Hayden said...

Aridog. - shouldn't be too hard. Right now typing on my iPad in my truck, connected by Bluetooth to my iPhone as a Personal Hotspot. When I hit "submit", this post will travel by Bluetooth to my phone, and then cell towers to the Internet. VPN's are already supported on both, so you connecting to your home system should be straight forward.

Could be using WiFi instead of Bluetooth, but latter seems more reliable, which makes sense since these two devices are most often w/I optimal Bluetooth range. And that may be the ultimate solution here- either/both glasses and watch as Bluetooth interfaces to smart phones, etc.

Aridog said...

Bruce ... sounds good, for your purposes (and those of my better half who carries both iPhone and iPad every freaking where) but the deciding factor for me is going to be the image size and how usable it is, with at most one hand. I cannot imagine squinting and squatting over an iPad or tablet to pull up a drawing saved as PDF while crawling around in the dark or what ever. That's why the HUD aspect appeals to me...once it is ironed out and working with good reviews.

If truly inter-connective as a domestic HUD, maybe I can finally build my dog poop launcher for my truck and fire nice turd balls at drivers that piss me off :-0

elkh1 said...

Aridog said...
BUT 'splain to me how you incorporate Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN) ...?

How did they do that with the stupid looking glasses?

If I knew, I would worth at least a few hundreds millions now.

Robert Cook said...

"And nobody wears watches anymore."

I've got one on my wrist right now.

Aridog said...

elkh1 ... I think you misunderstood my question...and I may have posed it awkwardly. WWAN is not SLAM, but WWAN reception is easily incorporated in to cell phones (As Bruce Hayden has described). My question, however, is how does a "smart watch" provide imaging for large 2D and 3D graphics? A refined Google Glasses HUD could do it...I can think of no way a "smart watch" would do it...short of adding another accessory like a monitor or which point it is no longer a walk around device.

I may be missing you point I am not in the least concerned whether somebody thinks I might look stupid or odd. It is a tool to me...if a serves a purpose, good. If not, I don't need it.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that Aridog has a good point with smart watches - how do you go about providing a decently high res display with such, absent miniture holigraphic technology. And, the only way that I can think of would be to use some sort of Bluetooth, etc. device, which may get you back to Google glasses.

It was the high res video idea that got me interested in the Google glasses, for maybe similar reasons to Aridog. I do need to be able to look at complex documents, and, maybe even some CAD and image manipulation. My iPad does provide the capabilities of reading most everything that I need to read, but not manipulating it. Right now, it is a good compromise, since even a laptop is really suboptimal for doing much CAD or image manipulation - currently using a 42 inch TV screen for much of this. I just don't see how this is done with the phone watch.

Right now, I envision the glasses being used as a Bluetooth display and maybe input device with a standard smart phone, pad, or maybe even computer. Actually putting full functionality in the glasses themselves is several years down the road, and, indeed, why bother?

Aridog said...

Another thing that "bugs" me about smart phones and certainly would with smart watches is the distraction they cause for their owner/operators. Most seem oblivious to it, whether in the ghetto or in a wilderness.

If you are close enough to a grizzly bear or moose to get a close up with a smart phone and text about are on that critter's shit list. If you are walking back down a fresh trail you've broken in the mountains and focus on texting about your'll likely not notice the repeated pug marks crossing your fresh trail. That's not a good thing...not the pug marks, but being oblivious to them.

If you are hunched over texting on your smart phone in the city you are saying "rob me now!" First thing a mugger wants is you to be distracted, the second thing is for your hands to busy with something ... like the ubiquitous "ya' got a cigarette?"...where upon you might reach for your pocket and your lighter, usually looking downward. A smart phone gives robbers both without no effort on their part. Hello?

Yeah, yeah...I know, not everyone lives in a risk zone...they think. I am convinced New Yorkers are like wildebeests or zebras in a herd...they know their number could be up any day, but carry on as if it never could be. Maybe that's a good thing. Until it's not.

A HUD would at least give a user the option of situational awareness along with info/data presentation.

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