Those of you who read this blog know I reflexively roll my eyes and exhale heavily any time the topic of Google Glass comes up.
And yet here I am today pointing to a similar product that I think, in principle, stands a chance. At the very least, if too niche to change the world, it makes functional and practical sense to me. Which is a lot more than I can say for Glass.
In fact when I saw Recon Jet (and Recon HUD) for the first time I didn’t cringe in sympathetic embarrassment for the person wearing it, as I do when I see some bozo wearing Google Glass. It’s not because I am particularly drawn to the design, or any particular feature. Rather, it’s because the person who wears Recon Jet, as designed and marketed, arguably has a rational reason to wear it. The same reason he might also wear a helmet and shoes with clips.
As an athlete, he’s fully engaged – physically and mentally. There is nothing casual about pushing your body to its limit. If you’re serious, it’s fully consuming. Needless to say, if both hands aren’t busy, you’re not trying hard enough. A person so engaged might therefor benefit from some way of accessing data as he optimizes his ride and behavior.
Contrast that with Google Glass’ proposed casual meandering down the street holding a Latte. The other hand probably carrying an Abercrombie and Fitch bag which holds a baggy shirt labeled “Muscle Fit”.
That’s the difference. Google Glass lives in the world of casualness. Recon Jet lives in the world of purposefulness.
I know, I know, those of you who want a pair of Google Glasses, don’t get this, you draw a timeline from your phone to Google Glass as though Glass were some logical extension. But that line you’re drawing (which may be valid someday – once the device operates effortlessly and doesn’t dominant your appearance) is narrower and frailer than the immediate, overt line connecting Google Glass to your face – and therefore to Maui Jim.
Basically – you don’t need to wear your phone over your eye when you’re casually window shopping. It’s gratuitous. The decision to wear Google Glass is therefor rather a choice of preference, of style.
And that’s what makes Google Glass so overtly lame. Because it is, like it or not, also such a strong fashion statement.
Recon Jet easily hurdles Google Glass’ utter fumbling of fashion sense by making it not about that any more than the helmet or pedals are. The self-conscious dopiness that comes pre-packaged with Glass, is not evident here because, as athletic and emergency equipment, Recon Jet has a defined purpose that fits a solid, if temporary, real-world need, and is therefore subject to different design references and expectations.
And I groan inwardly to accept this, but maybe that’s how such a device might cross over into the mainstream – someday.
In the same way that the athletic authenticism of high performance running shoes eventually informed the daily choice of out-of-shape people everywhere; a sort of ubiquity that bred acceptance of the design approach, so too might the iPatch form factor work it’s way past geekdom.
Needless to say, in the meantime, if you wear your Recon Jet while shopping for your Chihuahua’s new food bowl, expect to get laughed at behind your back just as much as you do wearing Glass.
Recon Jet may seem like Google Glass in many ways – but there is one major, all-critical difference – Recon Instruments knows why such a form factor might actually be necessary. And in this case, the context is everything.