Is Google Glass Too Addictive for Prime Time?

Google (GOOG) Glass, the search giant’s bold, optical head-mounted display, faces a number of steep hurdles before the device has any shot at widespread commercial success.

Not only do users look like Bond villains, but there’s a chance Google Glass can be very, very addictive.

Google Glass

One service member in the U.S. Navy has the unfortunate distinction of being the first reported case of “Internet addiction disorder” involving Google Glass. CNBC elaborates:

“The man had been wearing Glass for up to 18 hours a day, using it fastidiously at work and taking it off when he went to sleep or bathed, said Dr. Andrew Doan, head of addictions and resilience research at Naval Medical Center San Diego and a co-author of a paper published in the journal Addictive Behaviors describing the case.”

The man, who previously had spent time in rehab for his alcoholism, said the withdrawals he suffered after ditching Google Glass were worse than alcohol withdrawals. Dr. Doan of San Diego’s Naval Medical Center said the subject “would have this repeated movement of placing his index finger to the right side of (his) face, similar to trying to turn on the Glass.”

He even said it seemed like he was viewing his dreams through the glasses.

Now Google Glass, at $1,500, isn’t priced for the masses. It’s not even marketed to the masses, whether that’s because GOOG knows Glass still has some kinks to work out or because of the product’s inherently controversial nature.

Some privacy advocates have panned Glass on principle, claiming that the ease with which photos can be taken and videos recorded give the feel of a Big Brother-esque society. GOOG, Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) are constantly in the news for privacy concerns, with the latest scandal from Apple coming in the form of the iCloud celebrity nude photo leaks.

But FB has faced opposition for years for both the vast amounts of data it collects on its users and its addictive nature. And while there was plenty of criticism to come, in FB’s early days, there wasn’t a prevalent and ominous feeling that the social network could be so addictive as to actually merit a stint in rehab.

Google Glass is in an extremely early phase of the overall product life cycle. And the fact that legitimate health concerns are being raised this quickly is one reason to worry that Google Glass might not be destined for widespread adoption.

As of this writing, John Divine owned shares of GOOG, GOOGL and AAPL. You can follow him on Twitter at @divinebizkid.

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