For the purpose of understanding and advancing Glass, it is important to understand user interactions with Glass as being more complex than users simply wearing the device. Specifically, Glass interactions in terms of four levels:
“Access, Usability, Critical Engagement, Co-Production—that refer not to technical features of a digital product but rather to “interaction potential,” or the range of possible human uses and responses to that product.” — James E. Porter, Author of "Recovering Delivery for Digital Rhetoric," 2009
All of these factors that define interactions as a term that shapes the way in which Glass users successfully interact with Glass. Glass users respond to Glass as a device through a number of different features.
Glass—as a new technology—allows users to interact with technology in new ways. According to James Porter, "…the fundamental principle of interaction is that different types of computer interfaces and spaces enable different forms of engagement" (Porter, 2009). The fact that users have the ability to make phone calls, send messages, take photos and videos, search the web, and more on one device does not make Glass as a technology different from the technologies within smartphones. The difference between Glass and smartphones is how users can interact with every feature without having to use their hands, which ultimately changes the way in which users respond to both technologies.
If we refer back to Glass' main purpose, we know Glass was created with the purpose of giving information to users, as they need it. For example, if users have a question about a topic they don't know, all they have to do is simply ask Glass the question and their words are transcribed right in front of them and the answer is spit out in seconds. Users can connect their smartphones and WiFi with Glass in order to interact with Glass in areas beyond pictures and videos. Also, Glass registers several gestures that contribute to users’ experience with Glass.
Users' ability to interact with Glass through voice commands, connectivity to smartphones/WiFi and gestures increases the range of potential human uses and responses. Although all of these features contribute to increasing user interactions with Glass, what if users cannot effectively use all the features Glass offers? Will these users be able to effectively interact with Glass? If Glass' features were redesigned to allow users to effectively interact with the device through all of its features, Glass would be optimized for their broadest human audience.
The way users are able to interact with Glass makes the device revolutionary and innovative; however, some of the features may hinder Glass' success because users must be able to effectively use all of these features in order to ensure a successful experience. This limits the number of people who will use Glass. However, if Glass' features are tweaked and redesigned to cater to the human population at large, more people would see themselves as Glass users because they know they will be able to effectively distribute and access information through any interaction within Glass. These are some of the features that would benefit from being redesigned:
Glass users are able to interact with the device through voice commands. However, there are several situations and factors that can create voice commands as ineffective. Some of these features and factors, include Glass:
- Being overheated
- Needing a software update
- Needing to be charged
- Being used in a loud environments
There may be other reasons why the voice command feature lags, but through my research and personal use as a Glass user these seem to be the main factors that create voice command dilemmas.
Previously, the term voice command refers to Glass' voice recognition feature throughout the entire device, which enables users to access, use, engage and work with information they interact with on Glass. However, Glass' voice command feature can be scrutinized in detail. In order to create Glass as a device that caters to all humans as potential users, it is worthy to discuss Glass' voice command feature in both broad and specific interactions so both problematic areas can be resolved.
Specific Voice Interactions: Note Taking
While voice commands act as a crucial component for Glass as an entire revolutionary-wearable technology, some voice commands are different depending on the feature users are trying to access. For example, if users are trying to search the web, they only have to prompt Glass to start searching. From there, users can interact with Glass through gestures instead of voice commands. But, if users are trying to take a note on Glass, they have to use voice commands in order to do this.
There are several apps accessible on Glass that initiates users' abilities to create notes. Each note-taking feature allows users to use and respond to Glass in a variety of ways; however, each feature requires users to document information through voice commands.
In order for users to effectively take notes, users cannot:
- Pause in the middle of a thought
- Try to take a note in a loud environment
- Speak in a different language
- Link an external tool to help create the note
These problems limit Glass' abilities to advance society because the majority of society will not be able to effectively interact with the device through its note-taking features. Not only do these problems excessively limit user interactions, but they also hinder user's ability to distribute and access notes associated with Glass due to Glass' dominant voice command feature.
Overall, being able to document notes through Glass without users needing to use their hands is crucial in user interactions with Glass. However, Glass' voice command within various note-taking apps should be redesigned to account for all users who may not be able to record their notes in a smooth and linear voice command. Redesigning these features will increase user interactions, and will make the device applicable as a necessity for everyone.
Voice Interactions Overview
Although Glass' voice commands are in their primitive stages, these voice commands are one of the features that makes Glass revolutionary because users have the ability to interact with this device without using their hands. Even though this feature is a pivotal component to Glass as a revolutionary device, it is unrealistic to think users will want to always interact with Glass through continuous audible commands. By understanding that, it makes sense why Glass offers gestural features for user interactions; however, these features are not accessible in all of Glass, such as recording notes.
In order for Glass users to accomplish successful interaction with this new wearable technology, users have to utilize Glass' gesture features embedded within the device. The most used gestural interaction that influences successful interactions are areas associated with Glass' touchpad and its software. Although Glass' gesture features are crucial to user interaction, gestures associated with Glass' touchpad and software could benefit from a redesign in order to establish successful user interactions.
Glass encompasses a prominent touchpad on the right side of the device, which enables touch as an effective interaction. Users can accomplish various actions through the touchpad, including:
- Selecting information
- Browsing past information on Glass timeline
Touch, as a gestural feature is a crucial feature because it gives users an alternative way to interact with Glass other than voice commands. Although gestural features give users options for how they are able to interact with Glass, touch gestures are not applicable for all interactive processes within Glass. If users are not able to effectively interact with Glass' touchpad, they are missing out on the majority of Glass' experience. All of the features within Glass should offer both voice and touch interaction so all users can access, use, and critically engage with information through Glass.
Gesture features within Glass are crucial to Glass as a wearable technology. However, since Glass does not offer every feature within the device to be accessible through physical gestures, potential Glass users are limited by what things they can and cannot do based on their own abilities to interact with the device. If users cannot use the touchpad to interact with Glass through touch, users will not buy the device because they know they will be unable to interact with one of its major features.
In order for users to interact, share, and receive information on Glass, Glass has to be synced to their smartphones and/or WiFi connections. Although the process of Glass' connectivity seems pretty straight forward, there are many complications associated with these connectivity features, such as:
- Spontaneously unpairing from device
- Not being able to establish connection
- Limited to certain WiFi connections due to Glass' inability to verify secure external WiFi accounts
- Unable to register recent activities on MyGlass account
- Will not sync to receive messages with smartphone or Google+ account
I suspect other Glass users may have experienced other problems with Glass' connectivity feature, whereas some users may have never experienced some of these problems. However, throughout my interactions and research with other Glass users, I have noticed these are the most common connectivity problems that hinder effective interactivity.
Although these interaction issues do not always occur, users have to prepare themselves for Glass to have a connectivity dilemma. A lot of users are not very patient when it comes to technology troubleshooting; therefore, Glass' connectivity feature eliminates users' abilities to effectively interact with Glass because many people do not want to waste time trying to troubleshoot a technology they are unfamiliar with.
Although Glass' connectivity feature does not always present problems—and users who interact with Glass through Android rather than iPhone devices seem to experience a lot fewer problems with this feature—there are still connectivity problems that are associated with both devices. Glass' connectivity issues hinder Glass' abilities to create human society as its target market. Redesigning Glass' connectivity feature will allow more extensive user interactions while also accomplishing Glass' overall purpose of giving information to users as they need it without a search query.
As Glass designers begin redesigning current features on Glass—such as voice commands, gesture interactions, and connectivity features—and continue to develop new features that will establish Glass as a perfect device, it will be most beneficial for designers to think about Thad Starner's, Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, words:
“The computer interface [of wearable technologies] will be secondary to the user’s primary task and should demand the minimal necessary amount of the user’s attention” — Thad Starner, Georgia Institute of Technology Professor, 2001
Currently the majority of Glass' features require users to think too much about how to effectively utilize and interact with them. Redesigning current features as well as developing new ones will transform Glass into a perfect device that caters to all humans as potential Glass users, which will ultimately change human society all together.