Saturday, April 27, 2013

First days with Google Glass

On this past Wednesday, April 24, after 11 months of — I'll admit to anxiously — waiting I was invited to come down to Google and pick them up (after forking over the cash of course). I was surprised at the level of attention I got from two Googlers who spent 30 minutes teaching me to use the device and getting the fit right. They followed this with a campus tour. They are definitely putting out the red carpet for Glass developers and it was low key but still fun and exciting.

With Glass the first thing I noticed was how high the build quality was and how comfortable they were to wear. The weight becomes noticeable to me only after having them on for several hours. And, though I wear contacts (or at least I do since I got the invite) after three days of on and off use, I have not felt any eye strain or issues. While I had trouble hearing the speaker if there was a lot of ambient noise, in other conditions it is loud enough.

Like many others, I think it would benefit from a less bulky and more aesthetically pleasing frame but I find the appearance less jarring than it appears in pictures, especially with (optional) sun glass lenses in place. The biggest issue I have had was setting the vertical adjustment of the screen. I had to twist the frame and the nose pads to get it to stay consistently in my FOV. Also, the battery life seems less than the all-day they suggested and, if participating in a hangout have your charger nearby. Making it work with existing glasses or the ability to add prescription lenses is also an obvious need.

Meanwhile, the deluge of anti-glass articles, some bordering on hysteria, and the "glasshole" meme have certainly managed to get the word out. I brought them to work and the existing level of knowledge and curiosity was crazy — better than any other product I've ever seen (including the Segway).

Of course, curiosity doesn't mean love, and I think many of the points that are being raised about the negative social implications and issues such as with using a voice as a primary interface in public, are real. I can recall the backlash against cell phones (long before smartphones) when they first began to encroach on daily life. It took years before a still-rough social etiquette developed. I will not be at all surprised if Glass and similar wearable computing devices' initial usage ends up being somewhat limited rather than in broad public and social settings. Although the dork factor is quite capable of doing serious damage. Just look at what happened to Segway and cell phone belt clips — hopefully Google will take this issue seriously.

Still, the naysayers seem to be primarily focused on the potential negative social aspects without giving thought to the utility. For me, I became a convert when my son asked me who the president of India was, and I said: "OK Glass, Google: who is the president of India?" and it whispered the answer in my ear. And to say I could take out my phone and look up the answer is like saying I can go to my desktop and look up the answer which is like saying I can get the answer by calling my local librarian — which is to say, not even close. The immediacy is amazing and almost shocking. Want to translate something? "OK Glass, Google: how do I say 'where is is the bathroom' in Turkish?" Want to know if it is raining outside just ask. Need to call your spouse, just say so.

I think this is a revolutionary product and the beginning of a trend that will be nearly unstoppable. While I expect social backlash and for many to reject these devices or at least be slow to adopt, and who knows what interface or products finally win out. The borg meme actually seems fitting here so, in the end, resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.


  1. Sound you had a great expiriences with google glasses

  2. Like you, I believe that Google Glass is the 'first' in a long line of similar devices (similar in their function and privacy issues, if not form). There are obviously many people who are eager, if not frantic, to own and operate such devices. Likely, the widest adoption will be seen when such devices are virtually undetectable. If is fairly obvious, at least when close-up, that someone is wearing Google Glass. But what about a product that would be hard or impossible to detect even under close scrutiny? Users of such devices would be free to record and access information with little fear of reprisal. The social repercussions are mind-boggling ...