Robert Scoble brings Google Glass to Europe

25 Apr, 2013

When Robert Scoble took the main stage at NEXT Berlin on Wednesday afternoon, he first wanted to talk about his concept and theory the “Age of Context” (and the upcoming book of the same name he writes with Shel Israel). However, for the majority of the audience, including myself, cared, he could have skipped right to talking about the exotic piece of hardware he recently got and brought with him from the US only. Google Glass is just one specific piece in creating the Age of Context Scoble envisons, but it might be a very significant one, as it could mean the breakthrough for wearable computing. Of course, since Glass is not available to the rest of the world, outside the US, yet, most of us will have to wait until we see that future age first-hand.

“Biggest shift since the WWW”

When Scoble started to talk about Glass, he did not try to understate it’s importance. Quite the opposite, he mentioned that some see it as the “biggest shift since the WWW” and judging by his enthusiam, he seems to agree that this might become true. In fact, only author Bruce Sterling (who also held the last talk of the conference later that afternoon, on design fiction), showed a rather sceptical reaction to Glass, when he was allowed to try it out like several other members of the crowd. Everyone else seemed very positive, yet at times “challenged” by the new technology.

Here’s: Bruce Sterling trying on the Google Glass:

MVP rather than state-of-the-art

One very interesting and fairly unexpected take away about Glass from this talk was that it’s actually rather resembles at minimum viable product – and not the state of the art in wearable computing. Scoble mentioned a number of hard design decisions that Google presumably made to make Glass the limited, yet potentially valuable product it seems to have become:

  • the battery is small. This results in a rather low battery-life, but also a light-weight product.
  • the video-capturing is limited to 720p quality. Here, Google abstains from directly competing with camera-only Glass-like products – at least for now.
  • no augmented reality capabilities. Here, again, Google avoids over-loading the product and competing with products focused on this application.
  • limited number of voice commands. According to Scoble, this has made Glass very accurate in recognizing voice commands, including those made by people with UK or Australian accents – but not yet in recognizing German accent commands he stated to the amusement of the audience.

$1600 – a hefty price tag?

Generally, Scoble gave a very positive “review” of the product he owns and uses for a little over a week now. Some commenters (from among the NEXT crowd) on his Facebook profile even suggested that he should be considered as (paid) Glass evangelist by Google. Rackspace (his current employeer) might have a word in that, but in principle, it sounds like a very good idea. Scoble only seemed to be somewhat critical price of the $1600 for developers – he also expects the price for consumers to be significantly lower though.

If you want to hear for yourself what Robert Scoble had to say about Google Glass and the Age of Context in Berlin, you can listen to this interview by Derk Marseille from Friday at Six, in which he touches upon some of the main points:

Alternatively, you probably also can hear a similar talk at the The Next Web conference in Amsterdam, where Scoble speaks today and tomorrow. (At this point, I have to note that I’m a bit proud that we in Berlin were first in Europe to have him speak about Glass!)

[Photos: NEXT Berlin, Flickr]

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About the author

Johann Quassowski

Johann Quassowski is a MSc International Business graduate of Maastricht University and has worked with several techs startup as well as one Berlin-based investor. Currently he contributes to two pre-launch stage startups and is a volunteer meetup-organzier for the Berlin Peace Innovation Labs. He is still open to new opportunities, which you can make him aware of via LinkedIn. If he can find a working wifi connection, he tries to tweet from the events he visits.

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