Friday, May 31, 2013

Google Glass: Some First Impressions

"ok glass, pose for the camera."
Last year at Google I/O 2012 I signed up to be a Glass Explorer. It was a possibility for developers to get to the "bleeding edge" of some new technology, and even helping to guide the Glass team to product improvements. Such a product came with a couple costs: a $1500 (+ tax, thanks gov) price tag, and a very long wait time for them to reach production (just in time for I/O 2013!). Google alleviated some of the waiting pains providing a subset of "Glass Pioneers" with the change to go to New York or California and test out the hardware and software a little bit in advance.

There's a lot I feel I could write about this experience so far, but I'll save that for later posts. I started writing this particular post in part because of a New York Times article about the concerns over wearable computing, and thought a reaction to it was appropriate. I got my order of Glass on 15 May, an between the price tag and all the buzz around the device I've been very self-conscious of what's on my head. Over the first few days, I kept to wearing Glass only at home or at work, because I was still learning how to best explain/show the basic function and features to people (of varying technology backgrounds) that were asking.

Glass initially comes in Cotton, Shale, Charcoal, Sky and Tangerine.
(or: White, Gray, Black, Light Blue, and Orange)
The worst response I think I got was someone covering their face and avoiding interacting with me altogether (I'm still uncertain if this reaction was just in jest or not), but that's their prerogative, even if I feel is a misguided view. If they ever talk to me again, hopefully they'll just ask me to take Glass off or something if it does bother them. Although I feel many of Glass' greatest critics have done some of the least research, I get the general unease about a camera being right in front of you.

I've liked using Glass in more casual environments, where it's
noninvasive and I don't feel like I'm instantly being judged for using it :P

After about two weeks I've gotten more bold with where I wear Glass, although I still impose some personal caveats on bringing it with me. I don't wear it driving (Maryland cell phone laws are ambiguous on the legality of driving with Glass), and I don't wear it in theaters or restrooms. Since I need to wear contacts in order to put them on decently I only wear them at home sometimes.When I was out and about D.C. people were mainly inquisitive about the device, if they noticed it at all - though I'd think the Sky color is kinda noticeable.

Not as noticeable as a guy in a Superman cape I suppose.
I've noticed that I'm most comfortable treating them as sunglasses (esp with the shade accessory attached) - The awareness during conversation that there's a camera in your face is an intimidating thing that just feels inappropriate to subject friends or coworkers to sometimes for the sake of getting messages. That being said, I do think the close form factor to glasses makes them socially acceptable in fairly short order, but I still feel having a window pane in the middle of a conversation could be a bit of an insult to who you're talking to - like when you're speaking in a meeting and the audience is reading their email instead.

I've fielded a fair number of basic questions about the device, and have finally gotten a little time this week to start looking at aspects of developing for the device, so in a few weeks I hope to have some more opinions as a developer of the device. But for now I thought a little general commentary was appropriate.

[Followed up in Google Glass: A Second Look]