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Posted by JP Gownder on January 22, 2014
This week, Google released a new promotional video for Google Glass that featured a non-consumer scenario – public safety. In this case, firefighters can use Glass to help them in a hands-free way in the field. For example, they can pull up an architectural schematic of a burning building before they run inside. They can pull up design specs for specific models of cars before using the jaws of life to save a crash victim. Or they can locate the nearest fire hydrant. Take a look:
Public safety is well-established as a scenario for wearable technology – as Motorola Solutions and other vendors have shown in their product portfolios. In this case, it also pulls at the heart-strings: Who’s more beloved by the general public than firefighters and other first responders?
That emotional connection is important, because Google Glass faces some significant PR problems – even before the product has really launched. You can see this in the derisive monikers popping up for Google Glass users as well as through news reports of Glass-banning and even an arrest. All of this fits under the rubric of social stigma, the perception that using Google Glass isn’t a socially acceptable behavior. What are the sources of this social stigma? They include:
To overcome these elements of social stigma, Google is (smartly) engaging in some storytelling about scenarios in which people can use Glass to improve their lives. But Google’s choice of the public safety scenario also points to another solution to the social stigma problem: An enterprise model. For consumers, wearables are wrapped up in cultural patterns — and wearables create blowback when the devices don’t mesh with those patterns. But enterprise-provided devices are perceived as professional tools, no more threatening than a doctor's stethoscope or a UPS driver's electronic clipboard.
I’ve written a report about how enterprises will adopt and use wearables to drive business value. I invite you to read and download the report here.
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