Gadgets

Yes, Mr. Schmidt, talking to Google Glass is, actually, ‘the weirdest thing’

Using the device’s built-in voice recognition to control Google Glass is “the weirdest thing,” former Google CEO and current executive chairman Eric Schmidt said yesterday at Harvard University.

It’s hardly a ringing endorsement for the most exciting new Google product in perhaps … ever.

Of course, he is 57 years old, was born in the 1950s, and was the CEO of a boring enterprise software company, Novell, before joining the much more au courant Google.

But it’s not just that he’s an old fuddy-duddy. He’s right.

A Google Glass future in which we all have smart devices perched on our noses, in which we’re all viewing digital streams of content while simultaneously navigating the physical world, then touching our eyewear and speaking to it, is very, very odd.

Sergey Brin wearing Google GlassAn alternative, of course, is gesture control, and Leap Motion, which was recently integrated into Google Earth, and has announced its intentions of bringing embedded gesture control not just to PCs but also to “watches, smartphones, and glasses.” But while waving and motioning to your headgear may be less disruptive in social settings — and more realistic in busy, noisy environments — it’s also going to make for fairly odd behavior.

In the future, we’ll all have Tourrette’s syndrome.

That’s something Schmidt is recognizing, saying that there are clearly places where Google Glass would be inappropriate. The locker room, for example, and other places where there’s an expectation of privacy.

But it does mean that our current cultural go-to move in unfamiliar social settings — head down, checking your smartphone — will need some updating for a future in which everyone carries smart video cameras on their heads that are always connected to the Internet.

Another problem with the augmented-reality devices?

“If you like eye contact, I’m sorry, you lost,” Schmidt said.

Sounds like a paradise for geeks. For others, I’m not so sure. Perhaps talking to an iWatch will be less weird. At least, thanks to Dick Tracy, we have some cultural precedent for that.

Photo credit: Jolie O’Dell/Flickr, Chris Chabot/Google