Looking Through a Different Lens: A Glance at the Google Glass

There has been quite a lot of skepticism about Google Glass, from privacy and safety issues, to the aesthetics of its design. The criticism has even reached the core of the product, that is to say that it provides no compelling benefit to the user. This concern about the lack of a compelling benefit is the one that is most frequently expressed, across a range of industries and demographics.

At its root, this criticism is based on a comparison to existing products, mainly smartphones that can provide potential users with the same functionalities. As a consequence of this comparison, potential users do not perceive the existing functionalities of Google Glass as being innovative and valuable.

One could argue that the benefit of using Google Glass comes from the fact that the device offers an innovative interface that responds to voice commands and allows users to access various functionalities hands-free - e.g., shoot photographs and video and access information. Although, this set of functionalities can also be obtained with a smartphone, Google Glass provides a novel interface that is more convenient, on some occasions, for obtaining these functionalities.

The access to similar functionalities led many to to conclude that Google Glass has little benefit for potential users. But this is happening because people are assessing the product through the wrong lens (pun unintended). Since the product has been pre-announced, more than a year ago, Google Glass is being evaluated as a product with a specific and well-defined interface and set of functionalities. This traditional lens is how technology products have been traditionally evaluated - i.e., with a specific interface and set of functionalities.

However, at its current stage, Google Glass is more of an innovative interface in search of functionalities that are yet to be identified and could provide value to the potential user. A testament to this is Google's early developer program that gives select companies early access to the Glass and allows for the co-development of new applications with partner firms.

I spoke with Hadley Stern, Vice President, Fidelity Labs that is participating in this early developer program to get some insights on the launch of the Fidelity Market Monitor for Glass, a free mobile solution. This solution allows users of Google Glass to view hands-free display of quotes from major stock markets as well as end of day market updates. The Fidelity Market Monitor for Glass aims to provide a platform for individuals to connect to each other, share their experience, and provide feedback and ideas to the product development team. This approach implies co-creation not only between Google and Fidelity Labs, but also between Fidelity and its existing customers. And this is how the most valuable functionalities are going to emerge.

As the Fidelity Labs example illustrates, Google Glass is a novel interface to access information hands-free, faster, and easier. The value of Google Glass will ultimately depend on the type of functionalities that will be tied to this unique interface.