PCM003 Podcast: A Look at 2014 Tech – From Best to Google Glass

In this episode of the PC Mike Podcast, I reveal my choice of the worst tech gadget of 2014 – Google Glass.

Google Glass sucks. There’s just no way to make this turkey look good.

It’s the worst tech gadget I’ve used used this year, shelling out $1,500 for it just 11 months ago. It has a dismally short battery life, very few useful apps, is difficult to sync with smartphones and the public thinks those who wear Google Glass to be “Glassholes.”


Here are complete shownotes for this episode

Google Glass Will Die if Not Reinvented

Like many, I was hooked on the promise of Google Glass. And it was very cool to take stills by winking my right eye, or giving simple voice instructions. I even used it on a reporting trip to Punxsutawney, Pa. where I covered Groundhog Day last February.

But the novelty soon wore off. It was more cumbersome to use Glass than it was to use my smartphone. I spend a lot of time in the podcast talking about the promise and the reality of Glass.

PC Mike Techcast Reporter Andrew Dietderich did some nosing around on the status of Google Glass and talked to a Glass developer named Jake Steinerman.

When Steinerman co-founded Midland, Mich.-based DriveSafe a year ago, he and his partner were very excited to be part of the Google Glass developer community.

After all, for a minute, at least, Glass was the hottest thing since the smartphone.

But in the last year, the world of Glass has changed.

“The buzz around Glass tapered off a bit after the initial release and that was somewhat disheartening,” said Steinerman.

The list of critics lining up to pile on Google Glass seems to get longer with each passing minute that the product remains in the beta phase.

Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, is one of the most recent (and prominent) members of the tech community to join the list of skeptics. At a public event held Dec. 19, Wozniak said Google Glass is a device that “makes no sense in terms of what it does for the costs.”

And a recent report suggests he may be on the right track with the line of thought.

Reuters recently asked 16 developers the status of their Google Glass-related projects and more than half said they had put Glass efforts on the backburner or abandoned them altogether. They cited lack of consumer demand, despite the fact the product technically is still in beta and the hands of thousands of so-called “explorers.” To give you an idea of the kind of demand, on Dec. 22 a pair of white Google Glass 2.0 Explorer Edition glasses sold on eBay for $725 – less than half the $1,500 original price tag. And it’s important to point out that pair was white because other colors, such as blue or charcoal have listed for $599 and not even sold.

But Google appears committed to Glass. To counter Reuters, Google pushed the news that the number of available Glass apps passed the 100 mark in November. Google has a distribution deal with Luxottica, the Italian eyewear company that controls an astounding 80 percent of the world’s major eyewear brands, such as Oakley and Ray-Ban. And Google has said hundreds of engineers and executives are still on Glass.

And while initial consumer reaction has cooled from scalding hot to lukewarm, businesses continue exploring Glass as a viable product in the enterprise space. More than 60 high profile companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Sherwin-Williams, and even the NBA’s Sacramento Kings have experimented with potential uses of Glass.

Further, countless others are exploring possible uses. Steinerman’s DriveSafe is one of those companies.

DriveSafe formed a year ago to develop an app that was intended to give help consumers drive safer, offering such features as an alert system should a driver begin to get sleepy. However, after watching consumer interest wane in the last 12 months, DriveSafe has shifted to concentrate on the enterprise space, opting to focus on evolving its app for business/professional drivers.

“Earlier this year, around June, we really started to notice increased interest and activity in the enterprise space,” Steinerman said. “We saw a number of industries across the board exploring and using Glass and that’s when we decided to shift gears and do the same.”

The key? Steinerman said that businesses are more concerned with the function and value Glass can potentially offer as opposed to consumers, who are inclined to be more focused on design or the cool factor while at the same time being worried about privacy. In DriveSafe’s case, for example, helping drivers drive better could result in less costs due to accidents or drive more efficiently.

Like many companies, Steinerman said DriveSafe remains committed to Glass. In fact, DriveSafe officially formed an LLC just two months ago.

But as a developer, Steinerman said he has no additional insight into when Glass will exit beta status.

However, the official release date is reportedly sometime in 2015.

Some think Glass may be a product that’s just ahead of its time. I’m convinced in it’s current phase, it’s a disaster and unless it is reinvented, it will be like the Apple Newton – the disastrous Apple Personal Digital Assistant that also failed to live up to its expectations when it was first produced in 1987.

Of course, 20 years later, Apple came up with the iPhone.

Maybe in 20 years, Glass will be reincarnated in a similar fashion.

For now, I go back to my earlier assertion: it sucks.

Warning: Cyber-warfare is Going to Get Worse

This podcast also looks at the massive threat posted by cyber-warfare. The North Korean hack of Sony Pictures is just the beginning of what will be many more battles with nation state hacking. The scope of the breach, and the extent to which Sony was targeted, appears shocking to the public. But cybersecurity experts say this is happening all around you: There’s a much wider world of ongoing major hacks, with government-sponsored groups or “hacktivist” collectives mounting attacks against financial institutions, private companies, infrastructure, and the military.  This NBC-TV story says it all.

A Look Back: Tech Trends that Shaped 2014

Special correspondent Marty Winston looks at the  the tech trends that shaped 2014 and notes:

  • Home theater is a fad past its prime
  • 3D TV is a niche that hasn’t gone away but is not gaining major traction
  • Big pixel 4K, UHD TV is still all hype with no over-the-air broadcasting and limited content and hardware
  • Wi-Fi speeds are increasing
  • More smart home devices are allowing remote control of appliances
  • Surround sound receivers at the $250 price point is starting to show great quality
  • Wearable tech like pedometers and wrist bands are also more gimmicky than practical
  • Dash cams are getting smarter and easier to put in cars
  • Terrestrial radio is dying

Keep Your Passwords Private and Secure

The very first thing Internet users need to do is change their passwords. Use a program called Last Pass to manage all your passwords. It keeps track of your user names and passwords for you and logins in automatically with them. This is how passwords should be – very complex. The program will generate secure passwords that can’t be hacked.

Complete shownotes for this episode can be found at https://pcmike.com/3

Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the Roadtreking.com RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.