You may be doing something very well and suddenly, out of nowhere, something new comes up and changes everything, such are the terms used by Doctor Thornburg in the video where he described Disruptive Technologies as wild cards, forces that change everything unexpectedly. He further describes such technologies as having the same functionality as an existing technology but “functions more efficiently, and then obsoletes that technology” (Laureate Education, 2014a). To illustrate, the author offered the transistor that “replaced the vacuum tube”, “Light-emitting diode and liquid crystal technology” which is “replacing the CRT”, and “CDs and Internet audio “ that “replaced live bands”. Doctor Thornburg concluded the video by warning that “New technologies are always susceptible to unanticipated “wild card” disruptive technologies”. The concept of disruptive innovation was first introduced by Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen as “The phenomenon by which an innovation transforms an existing market or sector by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability where complication and high cost are the status quo. Initially, a disruptive innovation is formed in a niche market that may appear unattractive or inconsequential to industry incumbents, but eventually the new product or idea completely redefines the industry. (Retrieved from http://www.christenseninstitute.org/key-concepts/disruptive-innovation-2/ ).
It is from this awareness, in the context of the very nature of disruptive technologies; this blog will focus on Google Glass. First, I will introduce Google Glass and some of the many applications so far attributed to it. Second, I will expose its nature and actual potentials as a disruptive technology. Third I will assess the impact of this technology in the context other technologies it is likely to displace or render obsolete. Fourth, this blog will look into some of the possible social implications of Google Glass in Education and Training. Fifth and last, I speculate on Google Glass life expectancy before another disruptive technology moves in to replace it.
What is Google Glass?
Wikipedia defines Google Glass as “a type of wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) developed by Google with the mission of producing a mass-market ubiquitous computer” (Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Glass ). Google itself suggests the following among the activities this new product can accomplish” Be active, Explore the World, Live Lighter” (Retrieved from https://www.google.com/glass/start/what-it-does ) to illustrate with biking, golfing, travelling, taking pictures, web surfing, texting, talking, playing music, reading the news just to name a few of the many features and uses of the product. For a better idea of the product, I suggest watching this YouTube video by Marques Brownlee (Retrieved from http://youtu.be/elXk87IKgCo ) which gives a wonderful consumer experience along with actual technological details of the product. Indeed Google glass is a computer and on a computer, you can run any type of application. Any conceivable software can be built to run on Google Glass, and that versatility is corner stone of its life expectancy. In his video, Marques Brownlee demonstrated how one can take pictures, record videos, navigate (walking, driving), make calls, sends messages, search Google, and all of that hands free using Google Glass. In “Google Glass: 10 use cases for wearable technology”, Khidr Suleman identified the following 10 areas where Google Glass can be effectively used: Healthcare Airports, Augmented reality, Extreme sports, Language translation, Navigation, Accessibility/help for people with disabilities, Training, repair and inspection, Police and Military, and Pornography (Retrieved from http://www.itpro.co.uk/mobile/21581/google-glass-10-use-cases-for-wearable-technology ).
Nature of Google Glass as a Disruptive Technology.
The functionalities and features I have thus far documented feeds the impression that Google is sending a clear and loud message that many of the devices we are currently using, including but not limited to the computer, the laptop, the cell phone, the watch, the camera, and so many more, should be getting ready to leave the scene in the very same fashion cellphone came and buried pay phones and beepers. This is exactly the type of phenomena Doctor David Thornburg (Laureate Education, 2014a) and Professor Clayton M. Christensen (Retrieved from http://www.christenseninstitute.org/key-concepts/disruptive-innovation-2/) referred to wild cards in their thinking on the brutality of the forces of technological innovations. With Google Glass, everything, including operating room procedures, should be on warning. The pictures of doctors in the operating using Google Glass to communicate in real time with colleagues elsewhere are but indicative of what the future is about to be. In “Google Glass Enters the Operating Room”, ANAHAD O’CONNOR wrote on June 1st, 2014 in the New York Times:
Some hospitals see Glass as a relatively low-cost and versatile innovation, much like smartphones and tablets, which more than half of all health care providers use to get access to patient data and other medical information.
Dr. Christopher Kaeding, an orthopedic surgeon at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, performing an A.C.L. operation while wearing Google Glass.Credit Matthew Craig for The New York Times
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2014/06/03/science/03SUBJPGLAS/03SUBJPGLAS-tmagArticle.jpg Matthew Craig for The New York Times
Technologies Threatened by Google Glass.
The very aggressive, overpowering, and holistic nature of Google Glass is marking for deletion many of the technologies we are using on a daily basis. I will simply name a list of candidates here.
- The Cell phone
- The laptop
- The Camera
- The GPS as we know it
- Fax machines
- Smartphones (http://www.forbes.com/sites/haydnshaughnessy/2013/03/03/does-google-glass-spell-the-end-of-the-smartphone-wars )
- Audio Guards (Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2014/06/19/google-glass-museums )
- Phones and Tables (http://www.quora.com/Will-smart-glasses-like-Google-Glass-replace-phones-and-tablets )
- Less Doctors in the Operating Room.
- Kindles and Ebooks.
Potentials of Google Glass in Education and Training.
Under the title Wearable Educational Technology, this website (Retrieved from http://www.online-phd-programs.org/google-glass ) proposes a long list of actual areas or domains of applications of such wearable technologies as Google Glass. I will only name a few here:
- Online Education
- Language Learning
- Students orientation
- Field trips
- Medical training
- Students orientation
- Screen casting
- Practice videos recording
- Remote academic collaboration
Google Glass Life Cycle:
Like any new, emerging, or emerged technology, Google Glass does have a life cycle waiting in the horizon of the end of this century, unless something wild and unexpected was to show up and disrupt its evolution. Despite speculations of its possible displacement by such products as Android Wear smartwatches (Retrieved from http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/06/android-wear-smartwatches-make-google-glass-obsolete ), it remains my prediction that like holography, Google Glass will be leading and influencing technological innovations through the next fifty years.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2014a). David Thornburg: Disruptive technologies [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.