AR Glasses: the new Vuvuzela


I am the Creative Director for APX Labs. My division is concerned with UX, UI, HCI, Human Factors, etc. related to augmented reality products. For the past year, the media attention on Google’s Project Glass, which is one of the first “real” viable steps towards augmented reality glasses for consumers, has been great for the AR industry in inspiring conversation about the “when” rather than the “if it were possible.”


Product design often centers around the user of the product. With wearable computing devices, should we not be considerate of those around us, who do not have devices, but must interact with the users of said devices?

For the past 10 years, we designers (of any kind) have been told to move from individual users to community, business centered to customer centered, teacher centered to student centered, etc. Maybe it’s time for the product design process to include a shift in focus from solely “User Experience” to include “Social Experience.”

In many ways, Google Glass is like the Vuvuzela.


Right before the beginning of the 2010 World Cup, the Vuvuzela is the “it” marketing vehicle. Simple design, easy to use, and native of South Africa. At the first match, thousands of fans jammed the stadium – armed with their noise maker, and encouraged by the signs everywhere “Make Some Noise!”

An advertising board with a man blowing a vuvuzela is seen in Pretoria

And they did.


Who knew what would happen when thousands of fans blew their Vuvuzelas at the same time in the confines of the stadium?



The same thing is happening to Google Glass (and any other AR Glasses). There are social problems associated with the glasses that the media is starting to consider, “What about the privacy of the people around the wearer of Glass?”


Even with a limited number of devices in the wild, derogatory names have already crept into pop culture lexicons, “glassholes.”


And there are plenty of other issues to consider:


Again: In many ways, Google Glass is like the Vuvuzela.

vuvuzela_annoying Sergey_Brin_subway


It’s time for empathy in product design, especially in the tech sector.

My ideas:

+ Social Experience Design (concerned with the social impact of the use of the device)

+ Ubiquitous Product Experience  = (User Experience + Social Experience) x Scale of Use

+ HCI AOH = “Human Computer Interaction Around Other Humans”

+ Human(s) Factors (Human Factors at scale)


I’ll be writing more articles on these ideas in the coming weeks.