Body & Identity Meaning
Glass' current body and identity refers to how Glass is presented to users in both physical and virtual realities. This could be through physical, video, audio, and photo features. Glass' current body and identity utilizes all of these features in order to persuade users to invest in it as a product because its body and identity provides users with one of the most unique experiences.
Glass' body creates a cyborg identity in creating constant connectivity between the user and the machine. Since users have to create a specific account in order to effectively utilize Glass' body and identity, Glass is specifically connecting with users through their established virtual identities that connect to their Glass devices. This connection Glass creates with users ultimately allows users to re-establish their identity in their virtual world stored within Glass. Glass' body and identity not only allows users to reinvent their identities, it also reestablishes traditional concepts, such as writing as human communication.
“Body and identity—concerning online representations of the body, gestures, voice, dress, and image, and questions of identity and performance and online representations of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity.” — James E. Porter, Author of "Recovering Delivery for Digital Rhetoric," 2009
Current Body & Identity Of Glass
When users physically encounter Glass, they are presented with an abnormal three-eyed pair of glasses that weigh next to nothing and have asymmetrical earpieces due to a touchpad technology placed on the right side. From a physical perspective, Glass' body and identity is similar to a three-eyed monster. Glass' marketing manager, Amanda Rosenberg, is said to be the "face of Glass." Therefore, when users first physically experience Glass, they will understand Glass to have a young, energetic, tech savvy female identity. These physical body and identity characteristics are not the only component that makes Glass, Glass.
Glass' virtual features also create its body and identity. Glass' identity is represented through audio, video, and photo features. For example, if Glass users do not hear the audio feedback Glass plays after users have said, "Okay Glass," then users will think Glass did not register the command they are trying to give it. This is only one example of audio within the body of Glass.
Another example of Glass' virtual body and identity is through the start up video users experience when they power-on Glass for the first time. Glass is then seen as a real person with unique voice and image.
In order for Glass' body and identity to work the best with users, a few features should be reevaluated in terms of designs in order for all users to effectively and efficiently interact with Glass.
Physical Identity Associated with Glass
As mentioned before, Amanda Rosenberg is said to be the face of Glass. This is problematic because it makes users perceive Glass as being a specific person. Glass is no longer seen as a device designed to help users, but now as a device designed to help users who fit the person Glass is associated with. Therefore, users do not feel they will be able to interact with Glass effectively. This target audience analysis is explained extensively here.
Glass' Third-Eye Prism Feature
Glass' third eye acts as a screen for users to view information and interactions. The placement of this third eye is located above the user’s right eye so users are able to see the virtual screen without it causing any vision hindrances. However, after interacting with several college students as Glass users, I noticed this position did just that (e.g. caused vision hindrance). Other studies have discovered the placement of Glass' third-eye prism blocks users’ peripheral vision, which creates blind spots that could harm users in real reality. This feature limits the way users are able to interact, access, and distribute information with Glass' body and identity.
Glass' body is right-side dominant meaning that users have to interact with Glass through the right side of their body. This eliminates comfort for people who are left-side dominant, which not only includes left-handed users but also people who live with right-side facial physical disabilities (blindness or deafness on their right side). The screen on the right side may also give people headaches or cause motion sickness due to being uncomfortable while interacting with Glass’ body. Glass' right-side dominate body acts as a limitation in the way users can interact with Glass in order to effectively access and distribute information.
Affecting Human Communication
Glass' body and identity transforms traditional human communication. Glass has this physical cyborg identity due to the way we, as users, merge the technology of Glass with our own bodies. Glass' audio, video and photographic identity features will transform the way we communicate and interact throughout society. However, in order for traditional communication processes to transform throughout all of our society, it is important for all of Glass’ attributes to cater to the entire human population's needs instead of only a select number of individuals’ needs. Since the current version of Glass is associated with a specific audience and general individual, Amanda Rosenberg, Glass only caters to the needs of individuals who fit Rosenberg’s similar characteristics. By not redesigning the current attributes of Glass to fit a general humanistic audience, traditional communication processes within our entire society will not effectively transform.
What does this all mean?
Glass' current body and identity features are flawed in terms of catering to everyone as users who will merge themselves with Glass. It is important for Glass to cater to everyone rather than a sliver of society in order to optimize and advance technology interactions within our society, and enjoy the ubiquitous adoption that Google desires. If users cannot understand Glass' body and identity, they will not be able to effectively merge themselves with the device, which would eliminate the entire purpose of Glass. Glass' body and identity not only transforms society's understanding and usage of technology, it also reinvents the way information is distributed and accessed through the way in which users are able to interact with it.