Let me state for the record: This is a very biased article.
That said, it makes some good points.
There has always been a divide between how Google makes design decisions and other companies like Apple. I'm not trying to say one is better than the other, but simply that there is a difference. Google, very focused on data-centrism, does a lot of iterative testing, A-B testing, and to an extent, prototyping to see what works best. This is best shown through website design, often iterating between slight color differences, width of elements (down to the pixel) and location of different element to create the best user experience. However, when it comes to products, it's hard to do these quick tests and changes, which leads to another type of design practice especially evident in Google Glass. It seems that this product has made a lot of waves, gotten great positive and negative coverage based on legal and social implications, and introduces something new to the world. However, it isn't exactly clear what this product was intended to do. Frankly, I'm not sure Google knew exactly either...which is the rub. Has it been (or will it be) a successful design practice to create something inarguably "cool" without a specific purpose and throw it out to the community to define? First, it was the hacker community Google specifically called upon to develop applications and uses for the device. Then, yesterday, through artificial demand (one day only limited supply sale to the public) they tried to sell them to the general public... who will certainly find uses for them. I'm very interested in how that sale went. If anyone sees anything about the outcome, please post it here!
In the other camp we have companies like Apple, that do loads of user research, generative work, and evaluative work following on devices before they even come to market. The identify a desire/need and design for that, and then test it before releasing a product. Some have identified this practice as being "pompous" for suggesting that a company somehow knows what an individual wants... but they could easily point back to research to justify design decisions. This process echoes within my studies at ID as well; we're taught to do the same thing.
That said, who's to say which method is more correct? Perhaps this step forward for Google Glass will be a peek into the success or failure of the method Google uses. I guess for me, I see similar parallels between students in different fields as well- engineers versus designers at IIT. Engineers come up with a hypothesis, and, following scientific method prove or disprove it. They're interested in testing the limits of things they can make, and constantly ask "what if"? "What if I could make this faster? Smaller? What if I didn't even need this component?" Designers ask the same questions, but less centered around the physical and more about the experience. "What if users didn't have to do something? What if there was an easier way to do this? What if this activity was more enjoyable?" Designers usually use a different phrase, often saying "How can we" or "How might we". Nevertheless, same idea.
Please, thoughts, comments are welcome!