Essays on Technology and Culture

Don Norman on Wearable Devices

[T]he risk of disengagement is significant. And once Google allows third-party developers to provide applications, it loses control over the ways in which these will be used. Sebastian Thrun, who was in charge of Google’s experimental projects when Glass was conceived, told me that while he was on the project, he insisted that Glass provide only limited e-mail functionality, not a full e-mail system. Well, now that outside developers have their hands on it, guess what one of the first things they did with it was? Yup, full e-mail.

— Don Norman on Wearable Devices

This piece in the MIT Technology Review expresses a lot of the same misgivings I have about wearable technology, only far better than I can. There are valid use cases for some of us to have omni-present data in out field of vision—even peripheral vision—but none of us need it there at all times. Prosthetic distraction has the potential to be our undoing, but I think there’s enough people expressing legitimate skepticism of Google Glass, and wearable tech in general, that we can avoid many of the potential excesses and dangers.