It seemed like I should give people a bit of an update about Google Glass, and what the experience of being a Glass Explorer has been like for me.
First, I’ve met a number of really great people through Glass. I spent the first month basically wandering alone and not seeing anyone else wearing Glass at all. Then I hooked up with Seattle Glass Explorers Artists and Developers Incubator, which meets every Friday afternoon. Because I have a day job, I can’t be there every Friday, but I’ve been there a few times, and met the core people from the incubator at a few other functions. They are really very smart and kind people. At any rate, I have some new friends and some new things to learn. These are both things I find energizing.
Second, I’ve learned that people’s reactions to Glass vary along a bell curve. The most common reaction, and the middle of the curve, is mild curiosity. For most people, Glass is just not that big a deal. They’re curious, will ask a few questions, and then the conversation moves on.
The curiosity side fades to fascination. Some people are really interested in Glass. Glass Explorers, futurists, and science fiction writers, entrepreneurs, young people in technology, and a few random others who find Glass interesting. These people want to try it on, to understand it, and in some cases are actively interested in using Glass for good. Think applications that make the world a better place or simply make things easier. After all, hands-free computing is awesome. Good for inspectors, dog trainers, health care workers, house cleaners…the list goes on.
On the other hand, the disinterest side of the bell curve fades to fear, which I find is almost always based on misunderstanding. There are people who are convinced that Glass is always on and always recording, and always being watched by some evil human being at Google. None of the above are true. In most cases, I’ve found people are willing to learn and to often change their attitude about Glass when they understand it better. Generally, this group of people does not come from the tech community, but a few times I’ve been surprised by conspiracy-theory level worries from people who really aught to know better, like DBA’s and other people with college degrees.
Best thing about Glass today? It’s lovely to be able to do some basic computing without needing my hands for much of it (Glass is not entirely hands free). Next best? The potential is amazing.
There is a certain awkwardness to Glass in many situations. Sometimes I don’t use it for days. I usually like wearing it, and I wish I had more time to learn more about it and try out more applications. Some of this awkwardness comes from the fact that Glass is still an expensive limited edition, some comes from the very idea of wearing a camera on your face (or anything electronic on your face), and some is that the user interface is still rough around the edges in spite of really good apps like the turn by turn directions.
The current conversation about Glass is really waiting for a clear sign from Google about next steps. For example, most development is small stuff since VC funding is hard to go after for a product with no release date, no cost, and no clearly communicated direction. In the meantime, I’m still out here exploring Glass and enjoying the process.
…picture credit Chad Emerson