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Alliance for Person-Centered Accessible Technologies

an IGERT program developed by ASU & CSULB

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Assistive Google Technology

Via Patrick McGurrin

Put simply, the release of Google Glass has not been as successful as anticipated. Despite the slow upward drift in the sales, people simply aren’t sharing the same level of excitement as that for other novel gadgets. That’s a big statement, especially considering how much the current generation loves new technology. The big question everyone is currently facing is, why? There are plenty of possible causes (e.g. social, economic) for this blip in sales, but it is also possible that Google may have inadvertently joined the battle to make assistive technology more inclusive.

The connection between the flopped rollout of Google Glass and assistive technology comes from Will Butler, a writer for the Atlantic. He has written a thought-inspiring piece about his own views for the lack of success Google Glass has seen since its debut. It isn’t quite a technological issue, but rather a perceptual issue. Most new technology is seen as a fancy new addition to our electronic arsenal. Google glass has the same motivation, but in addition has been designed to become a seamless addition to our person, allowing hands-free access to technology. In essence, this design offers the feel of being an extension of our own body.

It may be the case that when a technology serves as biological improvement, we generate a connection to assistive technology. That association brings with it apprehension. Assistive technology, such as wheelchairs, canes, etc. attract our attention, but not always in a strictly positive tone. We gawk, ponder, and ultimately perceive people as different in some way when we see a person utilizing an assistive device. People may not be ready for the strong attention that we often associate with assistive technology. As such, they aren’t ready to embrace the Google Glass.

Ultimately, “there remains a disheartening chasm between what we think of as assistive tech versus good design. Glass is struggling because it hovers between the two.” With that in mind, we’ll see how Google approaches its struggle to bring assistive technology into the spotlight. Of course, eventually we hope that modern design will triumph in bringing assistive devices into a better-accepted view, just as other common technology, such as eyeglasses, became a commonality. Perhaps Google will be the moderator of the transition into a new outlook on modern (assistive) technology.