Google Glass: A lens on the future?

Amidst the din of promotion, criticism and public debate accompanying the introduction of Google Glass, it's easy to forget that there are only a handful of these devices in use throughout the world. All belong to Google employees, application developers and a small group of others recruited to serve as "Glass Explorers." As the moniker chosen for these early users suggests, Google continues to explore what the device is, can, and should be.

Some commentators have drawn parallels between Glass and the iPhone, suggesting that the former will prove as disruptive a device as the latter. This comparison misses an important distinction between the two devices. When Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, smartphones were already an established product category. Although some wearable computing devices are currently available, including fitness-tracking devices like Nike's FuelBand and smart watches like Pebble, heads-up-displays have largely been confined to research labs. Glass is creating an entirely new category. It is a bold proof of concept.