Impressions on Google Glass

Obligatory double-glasses Glasshole shot.

Obligatory double-glasses Glasshole shot.

I had a chance to play around with Google Glass Explorer Edition via my employer. I was able to successfully hook it up to my personal Google account, contrary to stuff I’ve read about the Explorer program not allowing loans, etc. If there’s a specific policy behind that, it doesn’t seem to be enforced on a technical level.

Anyway, I figured I should write down some of my initial impressions on the thing. It’s always interesting to look back and see how well I did in my predictions, like when I thought Twitter was just for narcissists (not sure I was wrong on that one).

The two strong feelings I have from Google Glass are that I wish it was less visible (to others) and I think it will greatly improve on video and photo sharing.

While I understand that technology can work as a fashion accessory (see anyone who owns an iPhone), I also feel like it shouldn’t burden the user with its outward appearance. Everyone writes about how Google Glass will create some kind of panopticon state, but the one wearing them is really the one who feels watched. I once tried walking to get my mail while wearing the gadget, and felt super awkward as I said hi to a neighbor. The awkwardness could have also had something to do with the fact that I have to wear the Google Glass over my normal glasses, which looks super dumb.

On a positive note, I think the ability to take first person videos is going to be the killer feature of Google Glass, if one ends up existing. I took a few videos of myself making dinner, which aren’t really that interesting now, but I can see a sort of lifestream genre bubble up from taking short videos of doing really mundane stuff day to day. Here’s a sample video I took:

As far as developing for the Glass, I found that the Google Mirror API is a bit lacking if you don’t already have some existing app you’d like to integrate. It’s basically glorified push notifications with a few extra location features built in. As an Android noob, I haven’t really pushed anything interesting to the Glass device yet in terms of native apps (just the Hello World one and a few samples). I’d wait for the official GDK to start developing in earnest, and maybe in the meantime, learn Android.

I had some mixed experiences with the Glass, overall. While the technology is neat, I feel there are many social hurdles that the device must pass before the thing can take off. Remember those Bluetooth headsets that you can wear on your ear? Google Glass is basically twice as useful, yet also twice as awkward. I think that a lot of the awkwardness will go away once sub-vocal microphone technology advances to the consumer level (think Metal Gear Solid). Then all Glass will need is a makeover to disguise the camera and screen into a normal set of glasses. Once the technology becomes outwardly invisible, the technology will be able to speak for itself.

Until either the technology makes itself less conspicuous or society decides that it’s socially acceptable, Google Glass wearers will all look like this guy.

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