Google Glass is a wearable mobile computer. Photo via fb.com
Google Glass — the wearable eyeglass-style technology that places a talking, GPS enabled, in-front-of-your-eye computer display — has now officially arrived in West Michigan.
Although the product is still in limited release, prior to its 2014 formal launch, it's no longer an exotic West Coast concept.
Early users are present in our community. Look closely next time you walk through the mall or into a Whitecaps game. You may find Google Glass peering back at you!
Some credible estimates of Google Glass adoption forecast sales as high as 10 million units by 2016.
In spite of the tremendous media buzz this technology has generated, there has not been a lot of analysis of how the technology might impact the small business world.
Many in the business community believe the impact will be minimal. But if you look at the technology in focus, it's possible to ogle into the distance and appreciate the impact ahead.
Your business may not use Google Glass itself in the immediate years ahead. However, every business exists in a world where Google Glass is about to make a splash, and organizations will eventually feel the ripple effects.
Next generation of mobility
Google Glass accelerates our already rapid race to a mobility-centered world. The Google Glass technology seems aimed at ushering in a new era of convenient mobility.
The Internet and various key apps will become even more ever present in the lives of your employees, your partners, your suppliers and your customers. A pair of glasses always on your head is less likely to be left behind then a tablet or mobile phone. The interaction becomes easier and more streamlined than ever. You can simply talk to the device you're wearing. You can constantly monitor and even observe alerts without even appearing to drift out of the conversation you're in.
The business world of the past decade has seen the evolution of a much more mobile workforce and increasingly multitasking work styles. Google Glass will serve as a rapid accelerator to this shifting of work cultures that is already underway.
The product provides a better tool for mobility and constant multitasking, and it's also sparking the introduction of a whole new generation of competitive devices from competing glasses to watches and wearable computer clothing. The result will be a mobility surge.
The paradigm of a decade ago was that the desktop computer was a ball and chain for us, and the laptop offered us freedom and power. Then the laptop became the weighty objects in our lives, and the tablet provided us with increased freedom and power. We are approaching the half decade generation of change where the tablet becomes cumbersome compared to the agility and effectiveness of devices that are always upon us.
The end of privacy
Downsides come with the technology as well.
Privacy advocates have voiced concern about privacy ramifications when much of the world is wearing built-in cameras on their glasses, which can be constantly recording.
Think about the situations today in the traditional workplace where some of the most interesting conversations occur in an informal manner. Consider the information sharing in a typical business that happens in the hallway, restroom or parking lot. How might the possibility of constant taping by anyone you interact with shift those conversations, let alone in meeting rooms?
The good and bad ripples of this product introduction will be broad.
We will live in a culture where many will be constantly Googling their way through life — searching, sifting and recording information throughout their days, even as they talk to us.
An even more mobile-savvy workforce will result, with even higher expectations on communications, connectedness and online interactions.
Work relationships will shift, as the illusion of privacy vanishes once and for all in many settings.
Business investments in technology will continue to shift to favor mobile-based devices, infrastructure and corresponding mobile and cloud-based solutions.
The timetable and initial pace of the change is still a bit cloudy, but it doesn't take a pair of glasses to see that yet a new era of business culture is ahead with this technology.