“Welcome to Google Glass!” the 20-something girl exclaimed as she led me into the building where I’d be given a tutorial on my latest ridiculous tech purchase. I have to admit: before visiting Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters – I always imagined it wouldn’t be terribly accessible – that the Googleplex would be almost like a military base, at least in the sense that it would be walled off from society to protect the secrets within. My vision was pretty far off, as it’s really more like a college campus and it’s quite clearly a part of what makes Mountain View tick. It’s an open atmosphere and quite welcoming to the outside world – Google wants to create products that can be integrated into our every day lives and they want to be a part of the world – not walled off from it. That realization was taken a step further as I stepped inside and was handed a mimosa before giving Glass a test flight.
Before I get too far, let me explain what the purpose of this post is, as well as subsequent posts to come in the next few months: I know I’m part of a select group of #GlassExplorers, and I want to share my experiences with Glass in a very public manner:
- From a technical standpoint – I’ll soon start work on some proof of concept applications to interact with Glass.
- From a practical standpoint – What’s the point of wearing this thing on my head? Is it worthwhile?
- From a social standpoint – What do my friends think? What do strangers think?
Of particular interest to this blog will be the latter two bullet points. I’ll share with you my thoughts on Glass in the early stages, and the opinions I had before I even went to go pick them up: In short, I think Glass is an innovative platofrm and is merely a first step that Google is taking to find a way for us to quickly interact with technology without taking us “out of the moment”. In its current form, Glass will have a hard time finding success, but Google will find partners (i.e. Warby Parker) to help them create less obvious / more fashionable hardware – in the end, the point isn’t to make someone stand out, but rather to make someone be more present to everyday life.
When I got home to Phoenix the next day, I was rather apprehensive about wearing these things out in public. In fact, I didn’t wear them when I was out in public in the San Jose area, even – a place where I should feel more comfortable amongst Googlers and other tech savvy folk. I saw other people wearing them, yet I kept them in my bag. When I got home, I decided I’d give them a test run around the block as I walked my dog. Of course, I had to put the stylish shades on the frame…
I tested out the camera a bit on the walk, and as you can see – these things take some pretty good shots, and if all I have to do is click a button on the frame or give a quick voice command – I’m finding that it’s very easy to capture the moment without having to pull my phone out.
As the week went on, I found that I still couldn’t bring myself to wear them when I went to order by burrito bowl at Chipotle or around the office with clients. I didn’t want to be a distraction. That’s the constant theme ringing through my head – and quite frankly, that’s still how I feel.
I did wear them a bit whlie driving around town to see if they’d prove to be a distraction. As I drove, I received emails and tweets, which I would review while stopped at a light. This turned an action that I’d do with my phone into one I could do with Glass – not taking my eyes off the intersection and not clicking away a quick reply. I could do it all with voice commands – quick email replies and Twitter mentions in just seconds. Not bad. I’ll have to wait and see how turn by turn navigation works later when I connect it to an Android phone – that functionality is a bit limited as Google needs deeper integration with core operating system elements that Apple and Microsoft won’t give up just yet.
By the weekend, I had become pretty accustomed to using Glass around the house, and so I figured I’d show them to my parents. They didn’t quite understand them, and unfortunately, I couldn’t really show them – as Glass doesn’t work well while wearing prescription glasses. They tolerated them, though, and were intrigued as to how other people would react to them. So of course, I wore them out to dinner.
It really is neat to be able to snap a quick photo without having to pull out a device…
Anyway, I could tell our server was intrigued by Glass, and wanted to show that he was tech savvy by mentioning Microsoft Surface as we bantered a bit before placing our order. He never asked directly about them, though. In fact, nobody did during this particular meal. At the end, when the manager came by to thank us for dining there, my mom chimed in – “Don’t you want to know what my son is wearing on his face?” She replied, “Well, I didn’t want to seem rude by asking.”
Yes, I’m expecting people to stare, and say things to each other but not actually approach me. But I am expecting others to go out of their way to ask about them and want to try them out. I’m more than okay with this, and got my first exposure to that mindset at the Starbucks drive thru on my way home. As I pulled up to the window to get my Venti black iced coffee, I got a response I often get when Bert is in the car with me: “Whoa, cool dog!”
But this time, the attention quickly shifted. “Whoa, is that Google Glass?” I then saw him scurry to grab his coworkers to come see. We had a quick conversation about them, though we were hurried by the fact that there were other cars behind me ready to pick up their orders. It was kind of fun, though, to realize that I’m helping introduce Glass to the world – one barista at a time.