At this point, it’s inevitable that Google Glass and similar wearable technology is coming to market. The new question is, what will we do with it? Here are five potential killer apps for a device that’s always on, always connected, and always available – without being obnoxious or violating trust.
- Financial Management. It’s surprising how few people actually know their financial situation, especially considering a tough economy. This can go two ways – check your bank balance and credit limits in real-time, or track your budget and see how a purchase can fit into it. The first is similar to the cash readout on, say, Grand Theft Auto and is easy to grok. The second could help prevent identity theft and create a financial ‘sixth sense’.
- The Time. A wearable like Google Glass can actually create new meanings of time. A task clock that resets when check off a task or leave your seat can gently remind you to stay focused and take breaks. A world clock that shows the time at the last place you mentioned can help you respect your global contacts. These can sync to a logging application to passively assemble a timeline of your life.
- Foursquare/Yelp. Location-based social networks are massively superior to communication-based media on Google Glass. You can see ‘echoes’ of friends as you pass venues, find and flag undiscovered gems, catch ‘whiffs’ of reviews as you wander aimlessly, and capture reminders and mementos without being that guy with the camera Instagramming his food.
- Calendar and To-Do. Remembering your priorities, keeping an eye on the clock, and maintaining your to-do list are mentally taxing and just plain tedious. Google Glass will handle the heavy lifting, leaving you to focus on the task at hand and the pleasure of checking one off. Simply showing the time until your next appointment and your next to-do item is enough to isolate you from distraction. Wearables are really, really good at getting you organized – that’s why modern videogames put a quest arrow, waypoint, and objective on the HUD.
- News Ticker. This is the double-edged sword of Google Glass. A news ticker needs the motherlode of finesse to avoid tearing the user’s brain apart with distraction. If done properly, though, the user will be utterly up-to-the-minute without wasting time browsing RSS feeds, loaded with breaking stories, hyperlocal updates, industry bulletins, and all the other raw material to be a fascinating conversationalist and ultra-informed expert. Perhaps most importantly, this is the only place to insert ads and marketing material.
You’ll notice that these killer apps are almost all non-interactive text. Wearables, especially Google Glass, don’t have a lot of screen real estate to display elaborate chrome or pictures. Limited controls also mean limited onscreen widgets.
The UX paradigm of wearables is totally different than that of a smartphone – think ahead to keep your business and skills relevant in the wearable future!