Google co-founder Sergey Brin wears his company's Google Glass headset while speaking Wednesday at TED.

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Sergey Brin: Google Glass will help fight the habit of compulsive smartphone checking

Brin: "You're actually socially isolating yourself with your phone ... it's kind of emasculating"

The Google co-founder made a surprise appearance at the TED Conference Wednesday

Google Glass is a wearable headset that displays real-time info from the Web

Google Glass will help fight the antisocial and “emasculating” habit of compulsive smartphone checking, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said in a surprise appearance at the TED Conference Wednesday.

In his 10-minute TED talk, Brin didn’t provide concrete new details on Glass, a cross between a smartphone and a pair of glasses. But he did confess that, having used Glass, he felt emasculated and isolated every time he checked his regular smartphone.

“You’re actually socially isolating yourself with your phone,” Brin told the audience. “I feel like it’s kind of emasculating…. You’re standing there just rubbing this featureless piece of glass.

In contrast to a smartphone, Google Glass allows people to keep their head up as digital information is overlaid onto their world, no matter where their gaze is pointed.

“I whip this out and focus on it as though I have something very important to attend to,” Brin added later, holding up his phone. “This [Google Glass] really takes away that excuse…. It really opened my eyes to how much of my life I spent secluded away in e-mail or social posts.”

Opinion: Why life through Google Glass should be for our eyes only

Brin also said Glass helps advance a longstanding dream of his to let users receive highly relevant information without actually having to run searches.

“My vision when we started Google 15 years ago was that eventually you wouldn’t have to have a search query at all — the information would just come to you as you needed it,” Brin said. “This is the first form factor that can deliver that vision.”

Of course, devices like Google Glass are sure to have downsides as well. Hopefully not too many conversations fall dead as one party becomes immersed in highly targeted information overlaid onto their view of the other person. Surely losing your friend’s eye contact halfway through a sentence would be emasulating and socially isolating in its own way.

See Wired’s coverage of TED 2013