Google is stoking up the PR for Google Glass, its still-in-development “wearable computing” project that will let you view the web all day long through a tiny computer monitor attached to a pair of high-tech eyeglasses. But like many other tech companies that try to make consumer products, Google is struggling mightily in the design department. It’s time they took a closer look at the world’s first wearable computers, hearing aids.
In spite of Google founder Sergei Brin bending Diane von Furstenberg’s arm to have her models wear them on the runway, the reviews of the early versions of Google Glass are in, and they are not promising. The consensus among everyone from Seventh Avenue fashionistas to pork pie hat-wearing hipsters is that they are too big, too unattractive and simply too, um, geeky to become anyone’s next big thing.
Google and other companies developing wearable computing devices (including, no surprise, Apple) should talk to Stuart Karten, who designed Starkey’s award-winning S-Series hearing aid, or the marketing team at Phonak, which has been pushing the envelope on edgy hearing-aid marketing for years. While the hearing aid industry hasn’t cracked the code on making their products cool consumer items, they’ve come light years from where they used to be. [Read more…]