Gadgets

Google Glass and the Wearable Technology Wave: The Next Big Thing or a Dud in the Making?

For months now, Google has been teasing the technology market with its forthcoming “Google Glass” product, a wearable piece of smart gadgetry that could stand to be either the next game changer or the next in a long line of Google projects that fails to live up to the company’s ubiquitous flagship search engine. Certainly, the Google Glass has a good bit of appeal on its side.

The product, a pair of glasses that puts a tiny, but fully functional computer right in front of the user’s eye, could bring hands free tech use into the mainstream like never before. Google Glass users can snap pictures with a blink of an eye, pull up navigation routes without having to deal with a smartphone’s handset or a cumbersome GPS unit, send voice-activated text messages, or ask questions a la the iPhone and Siri.

Google Glass Rumors: Release Date and Price

For months, the product has been beta testing, with lucky Google Glass “Explorers” getting a chance to test it out, and already, those explorers have developed interesting concepts around the Google Glass. One Ohio State University surgeon even wore the Glass during a medical procedure to give students a first-person view of his work. As of right now, the Glass doesn’t have a scheduled release date. Initially, rumors were pointed toward a March or April arrival. Now, however, talk has shifted to late 2014 as the likely street date for the Glass, meaning that the gadget will likely arrive in time for the holiday season. The list price? A hefty $1,500, with extra lenses – either for prescription purposes or for fashion preferences – adding additional costs.

That high price tag has many tech analysts questioning just how lucrative Google will find its first foray into wearable technology to be. On one hand, smart technology is all the rage these days, with every new incarnation of the iPhone, the iPad, or the Samsung Galaxy igniting enough consumer anticipation to cause queues outside of stores and backordered products all over the country. Since the Google Glass will be offering a twist on the smart device market that is newer and fresher than the average smartphone or tablet, it could stand to be a big seller, in spite of its price.

Google’s History of Success and Failure

On the other hand, not much evidence has yet come to light to suggest that wearable technology is something a lot of consumers are particularly interested in. Last fall, Samsung unleashed its own wearable device – the Galaxy Gear smart watch – and was greeted with disappointing sales, middling reviews from technology blogs, and minimal buzz. It’s hard to imagine the Google Glass meeting the same fate, not only because it has been brewing in the pipeline and building attention for so long now, but also because it’s Google’s first major move in the device market. For years, Google has been a dominating force in the Internet community, from the ubiquitous nature of its search engine to the ease of use afforded by its webmail client, Gmail. Even the company’s largely forgotten Google + social media platform has its ardent champions.

Of course, Google’s brand name doesn’t automatically mean product success. The company has a surprisingly long list of failed services and features. For instance, most remember Google’s attempts at creating knock-off versions of Wikipedia and YouTube. And who could forget Google Wave, the convoluted and difficult-to-use Internet forum/content-sharing service that was unveiled in 2009 and promptly discontinued the next year? In other words, the Google name might help Glass to gain the attention it needs to move units and build pre-orders, but if it’s going to be the next big thing, the features, aesthetics, and overall usability of the Google Glass are going to have to stand on their own.

Whether or not Google is going to be the leader in wearable technology remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, many companies are exploring heavily into wearable technology and consumers are just waiting to see what it will be.