Google Glass: Revolutionary but Not Quite Right

Google Glass is not visually symmetric.

Google Glass is revolutionary because it takes a big step away from the traditional screen + keyboard/mouse/touchscreen paradigm and towards a hands-free, always-on personal computing experience.

But it will most likely fail to gain mainstream adoption because of at least one simple reason: lack of visual symmetry.

Humans equate symmerty in faces to beauty.  That is why people usually wear facial jewelry like earrings in identical pairs.  Google Glass’s current design breaks that visual symmetry.  Every time I have encountered someone wearing one on the street, I have been thrown off — I can’t look the other person’s face without being completely focused on the display/camera module.  It is as if the other person had a huge, impossible to ignore, pimple on their forehead.  This is in contradiction with the goal of getting technology out of the way of natural interactions.

However, the next version might not have this flaw.

Update: I am not the only person with this idea.  Here are actual designer’s attempts at re-designing Google Glass.  All the  variations are symmetric: Bloomberg — Four Stylish Google Glass Re-Designs

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Pareto’s Principle at Play in Polyvore

One of Fred Wilson’s great insights is the importance of mobile first design — mobile form factor constraints force design simplicity. This insight remains valid despite recent criticisms of a mobile first, web second strategy.

usage_dist

The above graph is a good illustration of this insight. The graph shows access distribution to Polyvore’s endpoints (I have removed the scales and endpoint names). We compiled this data using Splunk during a recent audit of our services to identify places where we could simplify.

The bulk of Polyvore’s activity is concentrated over a handful of endpoints. The 50th endpoint barely registers on the graph and I am embarrassed to confess that we have 630+ endpoints and only the first 100 are plotted :(

This graph tells me that our product could be far simpler and still deliver the bulk of its utility to most of our users. In fact, this is exactly what is happening in our recently launched iOS app.

The best part about simplifying products is that it allows concentration of effort on improving the parts that are used the most. Going deep is a better long term strategy than going wide.