Google's attempts to ease the world into the freakishness that is Google Glass has done just the opposite, with a lot of people very turned off before the computer glasses go on sale to the public. Since announcing the wearable computer back in April of last year, Google has done the slowest roll out of all time, first starting with Google Glass Biggest Fan Sergey Brin wearing them everywhere, and then, more recently letting some tech nerds play with them at South by Southwest. The move made sense, considering how drastic a face piece looks compared with most of the other, non-wearable gadgets coming out these days. But, it just hasn't worked.
Since the very first Google Glass video, critics have called them "creepy." It took only nine months for someone to think of the term "glasshole" and another three months for the term to find its way on a non-tech blog. Just yesterday it was Urban Dictionary's Word of the Day. Some closed-minded bars have preemptively banned them, and even more open-minded ones find them weird. On top of that, they're creepy in a stalker way and in a computer overload way. And of course, there are the requisite privacy complaints.
But, was there really any way Google could have introduced these very different things without such a strong negative response? Nothing will make these any less funny looking, not even Warby Parker style horn rims. And something so inherently dorky and invasive is fertile ground for Internet jokes. It should be noted that a lot of tech nerds can't wait for them.
Then again, maybe if Google weren't so annoyingly enthusiastic about a thing it hasn't fully explained and won't let anyone touch the general public would cultivate an actual appreciation for the thing. As of right now, the only impression anyone has of the glasses are some vague promotional videos, a few hands on moments as SXSW and images of Brin taking them down into the subway, where presumably they don't really work. Nothing out there has explained why anyone not obsessed with technology should overcome aesthetic judgments and put these things on.
To do that, Google might consider letting people use them. If they're so great, the product—instead of Sergey Brin's publicity stunts—will make the case. But, instead of doing that, Google has opened applications to an elite 1,500 "Glass Explorers." So far, the few people who have used them do not sound impressed, again, explaining why not many people have embraced this big leap. But maybe this wider swath will get the non-tech nerds pumped up? 1,500 explorers might not even be enough to do that. It might take a wide release and years of niche dork use to get the world on board. Or maybe that will never happen and Glass will go the way of the Apple Newton.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.