The concept of connected eyewear that puts a transparent display in your line of vision is both intriguing and fascinating. In a number of professional settings, such a device has the potential to be a game-changer in the truest sense of the expression. For the mass market, however, there might not be anything in consumer electronics that even approaches the level of dorkiness achieved by the connected eyewear we’ve seen thus far. As we mentioned in earlier coverage, Google Glass will likely not become a mass-market product, but may instead lead to more palatable designs that might proliferate. But wait — not so fast… an NPR report from more than three decades ago might help convince you that Google Glass and similar devices are the future after all.
On The Media’s PJ Vogt dug up the 33-year-old report recently and used it to draw an interesting parallel. NPR’s story was about a crazy new invention called the “Walkman,” and it discussed how ridiculous people looked walking around with big headphones on their heads.
A collection of quotes from people NPR interviewed about the Walkman, as compiled in Vogt’s coverage:
“It looks stupid to me. Some people approve of it, you know. It’s fine if – privacy your home, you know?”
“Yeah, people do kind of look funny and they kind of look, like, you know, pretty smug when I’m wearing them and everything.”
“ You know, it’s nice when you’re walking around to hear other people talking and see what they’re doing. And you’re kind of putting blinders on.”
“ It causes people to isolate themselves from their experience, the contact with nature – sort of, a neo-existential prelude to doom.”
Fast-forward to 2013 and gigantic studio-sized over-ear headphones like the ones made by Beats Electronics couldn’t be more in vogue. Will face-mounted devices like Google Glass be fashionable in the coming years? Only time will tell.