Google Glass is the most revolutionary piece of mobile hardware currently on the market. Like most great new technology, Glass has excited storms of controversy over privacy concerns, high-tech elitism, and its usefulness in the real world. In just one year, Glass has gone from geek to chic with the addition of well-designed unisex frames. Their debut proved that the device could actually look good, like something a normal human would wear. Now, Google has added a fashion heavyweight to the mix: Diane von Furstenberg (DVF).
But can a brand-name designer wipe Glass clean of the nerdy elitism that has smudged its $1,500 lenses for two years now?
Google has its eye on women
The new Glass frames are designed for women, by women. Women are a huge consumer group, but they aren’t exactly the first people you think of when you say, “OK, Glass.” Instead, the image that springs to mind is probably some geeky guy with pasty white skin or a technophile blogger who spends his time trolling tech news sites with asinine comments.
But you’d be wrong.
Glass users are split pretty well down the middle by gender lines — half are men, and half are women.
At the NYC event where the new women-only Google Glass frames from Diane von Furstenberg debuted, Google Consumer PR representative Hilary Nève de Mévergnies told me that Glass users are split pretty well down the middle by gender lines — half are men, and half are women. In other words, there are a lot of women wearing Glass already, enough that Google wants to specifically target them with high-fashion frames. If Google can make Glass sexy, beautiful, and fashionable, it thinks public perception of Glass might get a bit less hostile.
The frames themselves are an attractive shape that looks a lot like the Curve design from Google’s Titanium line of frames. They come in several different colors that can be mixed and matched with the different colors of the Glass hardware. DVF also offers a few varieties of shades.
Wearing frames with Glass certainly helps make the wearable less obtrusive, geeky, and awkward looking. When I tried on the DVF frames, I could barely notice Glass lurking above my right eye. The only time you really realize that Google Glass is connected to your frames is when you first put them on. The left earpiece is much more slender, like the earpiece of your average pair of sun or prescription glasses. The right earpiece, however, is almost three times thicker. Once I got it settled and my hair out of the way, it felt perfectly normal. Still, the huge size difference between the two earpieces is clearly noticeable and feels incredibly strange at first.
It’s certainly impressive that the hardware for Glass isn’t bigger and uncomfortable, but if that earpiece could be made smaller, you wouldn’t feel the difference between regular frames and Glass at all.
And, of course, anyone looking at you can still tell you’re wearing a camera on your face. It doesn’t look as noticeable, but it’s definitely still there.
I haven’t had the fortune to try Glass before, so this was also my first go round. Using Glass for the first time was much easier than I expected. The commands are simple, as are the motions you go through on the touch-sensitive side of Glass. Glass still seems like this great idea for a device that no one really knows how to use yet. It’s the quintessential new technology that hasn’t found its legs. I was intrigued, but I need to see more practical use scenarios from Glass before I even consider ponying up the dough for this crazy wearable.
Diane doesn’t solve Google’s Glasshole problem
As fun as Google Glass is, and as much as I liked how they look, Google has a huge PR problem. The $1,500 price of Glass, and its standout look, has stigmatized Glass users. Everyone who wears Glass has been labeled a Glasshole, which is another word for an elitist. To make matters worse, the DVF frames jack up the price by more than $100. The brand-name appeal of DVF might make Glass seem worth while. After all, if DVF fans can spent almost $800 on a single purse, they sure can plunk down $1,650 on DVF frames for Glass.
But for those of us who don’t spend $800 on a single purse, Google Glass remains a style nightmare.