Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wearable Tech and Attention

Remember the Bluetooth craze where it seemed half of all people walked around with a headset in their ear. Now you rarely do.

Remember Google Glass. That didn't last long.

I remember having a conversation with someone and all of sudden they would say something nonsensical and you'd realize they are on the phone talking to someone else. Just by wearing a Bluetooth headset you felt that they cared more about a potential caller than the conversation they were currently having with you.

Google glass gave an even worse impression. Were they listening to you or checking their Twitter feed? [Aside: I now use "they" as a singular genderless pronoun without even thinking about it. I guess an old dog can learn new tricks.]

When you get bored and pull out your phone to check emails or put on headphones to listen to music or a podcast, you give a signal that you don't want to be disturbed even if that isn't your intent. Wearing a Bluetooth headset or Google glasses gave that impression all the time, which is why the technology didn't stick.

What about smart watches? You can certainly tell if someone has an Apple watch. But if they don't look at it you don't feel ignored. Some people think they can check their watch without the other person noticing. They do. I've been guilty of this myself.

What happens when are brains are directly connected to the Internet? You'll never know if anyone is actually listening to you in person. Of course, at that point will there even be a good reason to get out of bed in the morning?


  1. I would guess that when brains are connected to the internet, you would use your own brain interface to message/chat with the other person, regardless of whether or not both of you are within voice-speaking distance.

  2. Judging from the number of typos, you didn't listen to yourself when writing this post...

  3. I don't think that was a necessary fact about google glass. It failed because it largely sucked and the one potential killer app was specifically banned (facial recognition).

    If you reintroduced google glass and it was frequently or primarily used to remind you who you were talking to, important things about them and other pro-social factors it could easily be seen in a very different light. Heck, even just letting AR be populated by creations of nearby people would help