It is fair to say that Google Glass has had its short history punctuated by a fair amount of controversy. From identity theft, to people being assaulted for wearing them in bars, the news has been far from rosy for the technology’s fleeting lifespan. Another problem with Glass is that it still seems akin to a pipedream. Working in and commuting through central London, I have spied the Glass once, which is probably something to do with its current £1,000 price tag. However, this tally doubled over the weekend.
I had scored myself discounted tickets to the QIPCO day at Ascot, the final day of the racing calendar. In the company of mum, dad and a tie pin I was convinced had been designed as an early stage dietary aid, I found myself sampling the delights of the racecourse on the Saturday. In between the first and second races (minimal losses, honest), I glanced up at the big screen, and instead of the usual interview with a DJ from the ‘after party’ or the winner of a new Mini courtesy of the sponsors, I was confronted by a man calmly surveying the course while periodically checking his Google eyewear.
The tech fiend within me stirred, and I began to pay closer attention to the interview taking place. The man was Barry Orr, a spokesperson for Betfair, who was explaining that while he was taking in the temperamental weather, he was also looking at the best current odds for the upcoming races alongside non-runners. Old school punters alongside me seemed suitably unimpressed, grunting and returning to the Racing Post, but something about Barry stuck with me. Has he found a Google Glass niche? As I slalomed through the myriad independent bookies and their sputtering, mobile LED boards looking to turn 7/1 into 8/1, I began to think that Barry could well be the unofficial saviour of Glass.
Technology needs to have a clear application in order for it to maximise its market potential, and using Glass within the betting industry is one of the best ‘practical’ applications for the technology I’ve seen so far. Take BlackBerry as an example. For all its email power, long battery life and encryption software, if it hadn’t been marketed as a business phone, then it could have faltered for being a little dull. In a similar communication space, if Bluetooth headsets hadn’t been specifically tied to hands-free for drivers, then the novelty of walking along with ‘I take myself too seriously’ plastered on the side of your face may well have been lost to a huge number of eventual users.
This focus can extend to businesses and their communications strategies. Approaching PR with a scattergun approach to letting the world and his dog (neigh horse) know about what you can do means that many companies’ messaging lacks vigour. A focused approach, targeting specific verticals and industries with a clear message of what’s in it for them, allows your company to make a lasting impression on potential customers far more than spreading a generalised message in a haphazard way. Think cannonball rather than confetti.
This was the first time I had seen Google Glass being used for a specific task that suited it, and the middle-aged man standing in the drizzle made far more of an impression on me than a dozen glossy Silicon Valley ads. And if I’d picked a winner, perhaps I would have even been able to buy a pair of Google’s web-enabled eyewear.