The co-founder of Google says traditional smartphones are anti-social and “emasculating.” But it’s safe to say Sergey Brin has a degree of self-interest in making the claim.
Brin spoke at a TED (Technology, Entertainment Design) event in California where he talked about the company’s work on Glass, a project to take all the key visual and audio features of a smartphone and build them into a pair of spectacles. He certainly proved that it’s possible for a grown man to wear the glasses without being overcome by embarrassment, albeit only for 10 minutes.
While plugging the technology, Brin said that the way people get information by checking their smartphone screens is socially awkward. Talking about people looking down at a piece of glass he asked “Is this the way you’re meant to interact with other people? It’s kind of emasculating. Is this what you’re meant to do with your body?”
Brin was making the point to promote the way users of Glass will be able to check information and carry out activities while still retaining eye contact thanks to the way the spectacles have a tiny transparent screen in place of a lens.
Of course, it’s questionable how suitable the voice-activation and other features will be in social settings. As Mark Hurst of Creative Good puts it, “Your one-on-one conversation with someone wearing Google Glass is likely to be annoying, because you’ll suspect that you don’t have their undivided attention. ”
Using the spectacles could change public behavior in another way, Brin conceded: “I have a nervous tic. The cell phone is a nervous habit …. But I whip [the phone] out and look as if I have something important to do.”
So it appears that if Glass does take off, people will have to find some other way of looking busy when they’ve been stood up on a date.