Google’s transition into the new Microsoft is now complete: fancy-pants sci-fi concept video to promote stunningly awkward augmented reality glasses.
I am reminded of Bret Victor’s A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design more than I care to admit (although you’d never know that given how often I link to that article on my blog).
The hardest part about industrial design is working within the constraints of the physical world. The real world not only includes technology (which is constantly evolving, and not my focus for this post) but also includes the physical constraints of the users. The problem with a 5.3″ screen on a cell phone arises when a user wants to swipe from one side of the screen to the other while using one hand, a common occurrence for cell phone users. Usability is a major part of product design.
I’m not arguing against imagination. Conceptualizing a future free of technological and physical constraints is crucial for the advancement of technology. However, this sort of “brainstorming” should be kept internal. My problem with the Google Glasses concept video is that it was released to the public. Once you capture the imagination of the public with a video that shows one of the many directions the future can hold, innovation is effectively steered in a certain direction. Even if the technology itself wants to naturally evolve on a different—potentially better—course. The end product will be real world constraints butting up against idealistic vision. This product will be disappointing to everyone.
This “commercial” should have stayed within Google X.
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