Online education portals like Udacity and Coursera are really changing the world of remote learning in significant ways. By making free and high quality education accessible to a global audience, these platforms are opening up undreamt of possibilities for communities around the world to improve, grow, and prosper in the digital economy of the 21st century. Education at top tier colleges and universities has traditionally been a social and economic privilege, but now anyone can join in the learning revolution by sitting in virtual classrooms with the world’s best and brightest educators. Whether this involves learning how to code and build smart phone apps, or starting up a new business, or learning about public health literacy, the sky is the limit of what’s now possible.

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Looking at the world through Google Glasses

This is not the article I intended to write. I was looking to give a glowing update on Google Glass as a use case for cool technology, ahead of its time, and sure to change the world. But a quick glance at the recent literature is showing that GG is nothing short of a marketing disaster. It’s been met with negative press, has been lampooned by The Daily Show, has been perceived as elitist and symbolic of the growing wealth divide, has raised all kinds of privacy concerns, and is seen as way overpriced. Google Glass, in other words, is anything else but what its executives intended. Looking at the world through Google Glasses won’t yield the rosy picture you and I had hoped for. This article follows the metaphor and presses it to its logical conclusion.




A computer on your face that can give directions, connect to LinkedIn, make phone calls, send emails and so much more. A technology that can and probably will change the world. An altogether great idea! So how did Google take something with so much potential and – in the words of one writer – screw it up?

One reason is that no one seemed to know if it ever launched. I’ve asked my colleagues a handful of times over the past 2 years if anyone heard when Google Glass will launch commercially? Each time I inquired, it was anyone’s guess.

Another reason is that it’s just a bad design. The fact that you can spot a Google Glass wearer a mile away says it all. Here, Google should’ve taken lessons from Apple!

A third reason is that Glass is way overpriced. At $1500, what’s the point? It’s all sourced from commoditized technology that is readily available. In fact, one source has estimated it costs only $80 to make.

Also, the general public doesn’t seem aware of how Google Glass works or what purpose it serves, other than as a high priced gimmick and an annoyance. The perception is that Google Glass is usually recording and that irks people to the point that some businesses have asked users to remove their glasses upon entry.




Notwithstanding the setbacks, there are many benefits of Google Glass. It’s a cool and trendy technology that’s well ahead of its time. Glass has awakened us to the emerging role that wearable technology will play in our digital lives. And if you saw the rollout of the new Apple Watch recently you’ll know that this is becoming a serious market. We’ve seen the future of augmented reality and we’re intrigued and ready to welcome it. But like any serious product, Google Glass will have to sell itself. It will have to meet real world needs in a price-conscious manner. And it will obviously have to look good.

Remember that video a couple years back from Corning, Inc, A Day Made of Glass? It was brilliant in providing the viewer a set of real life scenarios of how interactive glass and multi-touch technology will change our future. In fact, after watching it, this producer of cooking pots and other ceramics could’ve easily sold us a set of augmented reality glasses!

This is not the article I intended to write, nor is Google Glass what Google intended to launch. So what can we learn from the Google Glass debacle? Well, we need to go back to Apple and to understand why people flock to buy its products. They buy them because they can’t do otherwise. The MacIntosh, iPod, and iPhone each revolutionized the way people interacted with technology through the mouse, through the click-wheel, and through multi-touch. But all of this started with a really cool and innovative design concept that met people’s needs.




Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design guru, whose ingenious work is seen in the iPod, iPhone, and now the Apple Watch, credits influential German designer, Dieter Rams with the inspiration behind his own work. Mr. Rams’ celebrated 10 principals of good design are known the world over, thanks to Mr. Ive:

• Good design is innovative.

• Good design makes a product useful.

• Good design is aesthetic.

• Good design helps us to understand a product.

• Good design is unobtrusive.

• Good design is honest.

• Good design is durable.

• Good design is consequent to the last detail.

• Good design is concerned with the environment.

• Good design is as little design as possible.




We’ve traversed quite a bit of territory here in this article, but the main takeaway is that the consumer is not beholden to cool technology for its own sake. You can have the best technology in the world but if it’s viewed as gimmicky or contrived, it won’t sell. Great technology starts with good, sleek, useful design that is subtly simple and appealing. Google Glass is not a lost cause, but just a missed opportunity for a tech giant that has done so many other things spot on. We’ll wait and see what the reception is to Apple Watch. But if past history is any indication then Apple may have just cornered the wearable technology market.

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About Jeffrey Walker

Jeff is a business development consultant who specializes in helping businesses grow through technology innovations and solutions. He holds multiple master’s degrees from institutions such as Andrews University and Columbia University, and leverages this background towards empowering people in today’s digital world. He currently works as a research specialist for a Fortune 100 firm in Boston. When not writing on the latest technology trends, Jeff runs a robotics startup called, along with oversight and leadership of - an emerging market assistance company that helps businesses grow through innovation.