Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Photo courtesy of Google

Photo courtesy of Google

“Wouldn’t it be great if you guys could be in a conference and wear (Google)Glass and it did facial recognition—which it doesn’t—and you could instantly look up all this information about people in the conference? How many of you would want that?” Whurley asked the crowd of more than 100 people assembled at the Austin Convention Center for the Web Leadership Day at Drupal Camp Austin 2013.
About a third of the crowd raised their hands.
“Fuck you guys!” Whurley responded. “If you can’t remember my name I don’t want to talk to you! That’s horrible social interaction!”

Glass Is Limited in Functionality

Whurley, whose company Chaotic Moon is sponsoring a Dev Camp for Google Glass this summer, nonetheless unleashed a slew of critical observations about the practicality of Google Glass in his presentation, Google Glass WTF? Among them, the battery life is miniscule, the prism is too small to use for large amounts of data—like a website, you have to move your head and hands in distinctly uncool ways to make this cool technology work on certain functions, it will probably hurt some people’s vision.
Plus, the apps that could be created, or web designs including responsive design, are very limited.
“What I think it will be used most for is ‘Boop, boop, you have a call.’ And my phone vibrates so why do I need that?”
Developers are reluctant to miss out on an opportunity to have the first apps for the next big thing, but there are too many drawbacks, right now, to qualify Glass as the next big thing.
Whurley considered that it could be used for a new, unique, augmented reality game as long as the clues were small and not a lot of data is required. It could be used for a banking app, but he fears that’s insecure.
“A lot of times we do stuff because it’s cool,” he said. “But the question is, does it have a purpose? If my website is Google maps that would work. It could give you arrows and audio cues. It could be just like your annoying GPS. (Glass) does have a video function. You can play videos. I can see having a DIY website where you’re looking at it for reference while you’re working on something…. As I tell my clients, not all things are suitable for apps. And not all things are going to be suitable for Glass.”
To be fair, he acknowledged, Google is working Glass’s shortcomings. But he advised the audience against changing anything about the way they function right now for Google Glass. Instead, just be thinking about all the new, emerging interfaces, like Thalmic Labs’ armband that allows users to control electrical devices with a gesture, or Atheer’s interactive glasses that let the wearer touch a space represented by the virtual image to affect change on the screen.

Right Now, Glass Just Makes Glassholes

And don’t just race out and get a pair, like the “Glassholes” on his recent Ungrounded flight with British Airways. There were 100 innovators on the plane. Of course, he said, there would be people wearing Glass, and “the rest of the passengers who hated them.” Once the group arrived, Whurley said, he was on a London street with one of these Google Glass wearers, looking for a restaurant where no signal was available.
“They guy’s literally like ‘Woah, woah, whoa I got this.’ And I thought, here comes a disaster…. I was waiting for it like a shark. And then he (moved to another part of the sidewalk) like he knew the signal would be better there.”
“So I stepped forward and asked these two women ‘Excuse me, we’re looking for this pub’ and they’re like ‘Yeah it’s around the corner two blocks over.’
Technology has to be useful, Whurley said. Which means it can’t encumber you with bad interfaces, it can’t require you to move in unnatural ways, it can’t make you blind…. And it has to actually make life more convenient than life would be without the technology.
Glass has some other issues, he pointed out. He’s convinced that within months after they come out, Texas will ban them during driving and the rest of the country will follow. The only exception being if you use them to show your insurance company how you’re driving.
And there are some privacy concerns. One fellow innovator on the plane was filming Whurley without asking him.
“It drove me mad,” he said. “It’s not a screen, it’s a prism. I know you’re filming me. I know what you’re looking at. I know you’re not listening to me now.”
On the other hand, some people seem to fear that Glass will be able to recognize faces and call up private information.
“There are concerns you’re going to be able to walk around and know everything about everybody. Does Glass connect to a special NSA computer? None of you have any privacy anyway so I don’t know what you’re worried about. Everybody seems to think this is magic technology that’s going to do something it can’t really do. There just needs to be a reality about Glass.”
There’s especially a limitation when you can’t get a signal. On the Ungrounded flight, there was no wifi. Yet people wore their Glasses.
“It was weird,” Whurley said. “It was like, ‘What are they doing?’ ‘Nothing!’ But they’re under the impression they look really cool right now.”