Durban - Augmented reality has been the rage for two years, or so Google would have us believe. The idea of having the power and accessibility of the internet at your, um, cornea, sounds futuristic and exciting, but is it really practical or of any use in South Africa?
Jonathan Hudson, a 31-year-old IT expert, says, “My feeling is that it isn’t going to be a real product for Google. I know they built it and people have it, but it was intended for research and development so Google could learn more about how to make other wearables better. Watches are the new thing anyway and are much nicer to wear than glass.”
Donovan Broughton, a web entrepreneur of the same age, agrees. “My feeling is that it’s nice, but the benefits are mitigated by the other wearables hitting the market.
“People who might be interested would be the early adopter segment, with cash to burn. But that would constitute a relatively small market share.
“Lastly, a rhetorical question would be, ‘how relevant is this in a Third World country – is there enough infrastructure for apps that we South Africans could use to justify the price tag?”
But what if the price was much lower or you got the glass as a gift? Would that change the way the product is seen?
“Not really,” says, Michelle Zama, a local blogger. “I still don’t see how it improves my life. I don’t need it, and even if it was free, I still don’t think I’d need it, plus it just doesn’t look cool.”
And that’s another problem. The cool factor. As hi-tech and pricey as Google Glass may be, it lacks the “must-have” factor.
Lumka Nofemele, a columnist and online journalist, says, “I think I would look even dorkier than I already do,” but she does see it’s value.
“It definitely has some value, especially if you’re a tech head. But wearing it on your face is just not chic.”
Fashionista points aside, would anyone dare to wear a R27 000 product in crime-stricken South Africa?
“When you consider crime,” says Broughton, “I wouldn’t be seen with it too publicly, but as long as the local infrastructure can match the product’s requirements, I wouldn’t mind incorporating it into my lifestyle.”
Hudson thinks it’s just asking for trouble. “Wearing something that expensive is almost an invitation to be mugged. I’d feel far too aware, like I was wearing a Rolex or gold.
“I also think you’d get only a glimpse of its actual capabilities because we are not a First World country.”
Nofemele thinks the price tag is on the ridiculous side. “If you were to lose or damage it, or have it stolen, then what?
“Still, it would be a nifty gadget to test drive.”
Although responses were met with a collective “meh”, every person asked if there was a free sample up for grabs, and they all seemed disappointed when they discovered there weren’t any.