It turns out that comparison isn’t so unfair, according to a survey of 2,000 Americans commissioned by Rackspace and the University of London’s Goldsmiths’ College. The research, which investigated attitudes toward Glass and other wearable computing devices, found that people who don’t want Glass are indeed turned off by its price and see little use for the device, though they aren’t as concerned about its “freakish” appearance as pundits have predicted they’d be. (The survey also polled 2,000 U.K. residents.)
Forty percent of the U.S. residents surveyed said they wouldn’t buy Glass when goes on sale, while another 38 percent said they were undecided.
When asked to name their reasons for not wanting Glass, the top three explanations offered were: the cost of Glass (37 percent thought it would “probably be too expensive"); their general lack of interest in using wearable technology of any kind (37 percent); and the perceived uselessness of Glass (31 percent said they “wouldn't know how to use it or what to use it for”).
Glass’ privacy issues were also a turnoff for potential Glass buyers, though they were more concerned with their own personal information than with spying on strangers. A quarter of anti-Glass respondents said they worried about sharing their own personal information with Google and other third parties. By contrast, just 16 percent said they disliked Glass because they’d be concerned about “infringing other people’s privacy with the camera function.”
When asked about objections to wearable computing more generally -- rather than Glass specifically –- a greater number of U.S. respondents cited privacy fears: 53 percent worried about sharing their personal information, 45 percent worried about the security of their information and 45 percent deemed the technology too “Big Brother” to be desirable.
Forbes’ Karsten Strauss recently dubbed Glass a “fashion failure,” yet only around a fifth of Glass-versaries (18 percent) said they had concerns about how they’d look wearing the device. Sixteen percent disliked Glass’ design, and 13 percent said they’d wait to buy it until it was more mainstream.
Although the majority of respondents weren't convinced they'd buy Glass when it became available, by and large they weren't allergic to the idea of wearing -- or even being watched by -- Glass. According to the survey, people's objections to Glass have largely to do with cost and utility, two issues Google should be able to address through better marketing and less expensive manufacturing processes. In short, Glass could still avoid a Segway-like fate. Whether Google can move quickly and nimbly enough to address those concerns is another matter, however.
People were also asked about their attitudes toward wearable cameras, more broadly. It turns out these gadgets, such as Glass and Memoto, may have a small, but avid group of champions: Eight percent of all U.S. respondents said they were ready to accept wearable cameras in any and all situations.
Nearly one in five took the opposite stance: Seventeen percent of the Americans surveyed called for wearable cameras, like Glass, to be banned outright.
Google has responded to privacy concerns by noting that "social cues" and "social contracts" will keep bad Glass behavior at bay, and a quarter of the people surveyed actually agreed that use of the technology should be controlled by social etiquette.