Google Glass owners were in the minority last week at Google I/O 2013, but I still felt left out not having a pair. I was one of the “have-nots” this past week. It’s still very early days for Google Glass, but there is enough insight into the potential for eBusiness professionals to begin thinking about the possibilities. Some may argue that Google Glass is a fantasy product at $1,500 that will never take off, but a lot of people doubted the tablet and iPad as well. In any case, it's safe to assume that more and more devices will have interactive, connected displays. These displays may be flexible — they may be a wristwatch. The same thinking around highly contextual information delivered in small bits still applies. 

First session on Google Glass development was oversold, so to speak. There was standing room only with at least one overflow room. Intense. I was also fortunate to attend a women’s maker event the evening before with Jean Wang (see video of event and Jean story). She shared the history of the devices.


I’m sitting in the “Fireside Chat” session as I type this blog post. I can literally feel the temperature rising as the bodies crowd in. It’s 15 minutes before the start . . . and they are already turning people away. It’s intense, like trying to get into Iron Man 3 on the opening weekend. There can’t possibly be a product attracting more attention right now.

Vision for Google Glass: “Technology is there when you need it. It’s not when you don’t.”

I’m thinking, “Yeah — you know, I am kind of tired of always having to dig my phone out of my purse — for a phone number, for a quick photo, to see a message.” The vision is easy to embrace.

At Forrester, we’ve talked for a long time about the immediacy and context (relevant, intimate, personalized). Glass takes this to a new level.

eBusiness professionals can’t even begin to THINK about squeezing or shrinking an experience from a mobile phone, let alone a PC. The ability to shrink/squeeze experiences from the PC to mobile helped accelerate the migration of services from the PC to the mobile phone. Even the analogy "shrinking/squeezing experiences from the mobile device to the glass screen" will fail. Think about it: a message on a phone can have 160 characters — well, now it’s longer, but it’s close enough. Glass is more about 1-2 words. Yes, you can have full sentences, but see the experience.

Here is an example of the relative size of the screens. It is not perfect or measured out, but it gives you a sense. They equate Google Glass to a 25" TV screen 8 feet away. From 8 feet away, you don't read a lot — you read a little, AND the text size has to be even bigger relative to images — more so than even on the phone. 

Here are a few screen shots of the experience.


eBusiness professionals must think NEW from the beginning. Glass is still early for best practices, but the Google team did share some of their early learnings:

  1. Don’t take a mobile experience and shrink it onto Glass.
  2. Don’t get in the way — don’t take a consumer out of their life — the service should improve their life (when is it difficult to get phone out of purse); they should be able to ignore notifications.
  3. Keep it timely – Glass needs even more immediacy than mobile phones.
  4. Avoid the unexpected — it is particularly difficult on Glass. The user is wearing your experience. Don’t do anything unexpected. Give them preferences, for example renotifications.

How should eBusiness professionals be thinking about this next generation of experiences? (This list will grow.)

  1. Highly contextual.
  2. Short with large font.
  3. Timelines are the content structure: On Glass, I go forward in time and backward in time.
  4. Controls are voice, gesture, and touch. I go in and out of apps/logic trees.

Retailers, for example, are beginning to use "store mode" when a consumer connects to their Wi-Fi in-store. Essentially, the app changes to be more centric around way-finding, deals, shopping lists — things I already need once I am in the store. Let's take the shopping list as an example. As a consumer, if I have Glass, I can't see my entire shopping list, but I just need to see what I need to buy in the dairy section (e.g., milk, cheese, eggs) when I am in the dairy aisle. If I am using time as a construct, the shopping list in my Glass needs to track me through the store: What is next on the list based on where I am in the store versus what I have already put in my basket?

Airlines/hotels: You switch me into travel mode the day of. I may want to check in 6 hours in advance, but I only need my gate 45 minutes in advance — and by the way, there isn't a ton of room to try to upsell me on business class, Wi-Fi, lounge access, etc. This will need to stay on phones, or you'll have to rethink things. 

Insurance companies: First, you may not want your drivers wearing this type of Glass. When I was talking to the media companies demoing Glass, the demonstrator had a hard time both demoing and making eye contact with me. I'm sure as you get used to the experience, you can multitask — read email or a Tweet without losing focus on a conversation. And really, no one we know is ever annoying consumed by his or her cell phone when we're trying to have a conversation with him/her. 🙂

Banks will be thinking alerts, balances — quick bits and not deep research. 

The fine-tuning eBusiness professionals are doing for mobile phones to create relevancy will be helpful once they look to smaller screens — especially when they are creating logic for push-based notifications. The other element will be how content is synced and transferred among screens or devices. Responsive design may not match up here with the extremes in play. Here is an example from a launch partner for online preference management — and one element I love is setting the expectations on the number of alerts per day.


Information from the sessions:

Why Google Glass?

Key facts about Google Glass:

  • Cost: $1,500.
  • Launch partners include: CNN, NY Times, Elle Magazine (Hearst), Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Evernote, and Path (and maybe IceBreaker).
  • Control through touch (on frame), voice, and motion.
  • Wi-Fi.
  • SDK (GDK) is under development.
  • Multi-touch.
  • Five colors: charcoal, white, orange, blue, and black.

What else?

  • They will be banned from locker rooms just like phones — they record video and take photos of unsuspecting victims. Kidding. It does make me think of spy glasses from a 1970s novel. 
  • Not intended to watch a full length movie — this is about micro-interactions or brief interactions.
  • You can’t just go buy Google Glass today. People who registered at last year’s conference picked them up this year. They also gave some out to developers and others with interesting ideas about how to use Glass. Go to their website if you want to indicate your interest.
  • Is the screen small? Hell, yeah. But, it looks like a 25” screen (htpi normal screen size) from 8 feet away.
  • Will your Glass respond only to your voice? Or anyone around you? (A lot of devices could and will be using Voice going forward). “We’re working on it.”