Some people indulge their midlife crises with botox, others with convertible cars or travel. Mine, true to form, was plunking down enough money for Amex to put a stop on my card, and join the elite ranks of augmented reality wearing Google Glass-ers . (Yes, Glassholes to many).
Within two minutes of my personal fitting and introduction to Glass I knew had the same feeling as when I scarf a bunch of chocolates. “This is a temporary high,” I thought.
Glass is really three things. A bone conduction headset to place a call or dictate a message. A camera to record video or photos. And a prism that serves as your screen. It hovers just above your eyes, carefully positioned to augment, not overtake reality. The rest is all dependent on two things: what Glass Apps you’re running and what you do with the Bluetooth link to your smartphone. In many ways, Glass is like wearing your Smartphone.
A couple of early revelations -
The setup involved me using my phone, my PC and my Glass at the same time. An ADD trifecta. I was yelling “ok google to my phone” only to cast my eyes upward and say “ok glass” to my glasses, all while clicking on my laptop. Doing a search of the Internet with my Glass involved the combo command OK Glass Search Google. The results, needless to say, were pretty unexpected.
Ninety percent of what I can do with Glass involves either taping or swiping the Glass frame. Immediately after purchasing I had lunch with mom. She remarked that I looked seriously like a couple of the Chelsea homeless who frequented her diner. They too tapped the side of their head incessantly.
First question to my Glass Guide (the twenty something at Google who indoctrinated me) was “how do you track them when you lose them? “ Guess what? No answer to that question. Note to development community — this should be a mandatory app.
Google’s basic repertoire (minus the handful of apps that exist) consists of taking a photo or video, sharing that photo or video, making a call or a video call, searching Google, or sending photos to your social media friends. These activities wore thin for me after a few hours. Since you can’t caption the photos you share it seems like this “photo taken by Glass” tag is simply viral marketing (for both me and Google).
Our Glass guide spent a lot of time telling us what Glass was not meant to do (watch movies, read a book, store all your contacts). You can make a phone call from your Google Glass – though the bone conduction headset is not ideal for anyone but a bald guy. Hair impedes the sound. Your calls are best made in a very quiet room. And because Glass doesn’t want you to be distracted by phone calls they made the decision to limit your contacts to 10 numbers – most friends have at least two numbers, by the way.
After a few videos and phone calls both my cell phone and my Google Glass were out of charge. Note to self: Plan to spend time hovering near outlets.
Glass demands that you think ahead. Snap a photo and want to share it? You’d better be mentally prepared. If you take the photo and tap your head to indicate Share within about 3 seconds you’re done. Barely time to look at what you’ve snapped. And using the two fingered salute to click on a URL while searching the web is more like target practice than web surfing.
Yes, Glass has had its disappointments. Some I expect will be remedied with more apps. (I’m reading the headline of the NY Times as we speak). The experience is either exhilarating or frustrating – never just ho hum.
At the end of the say, I’m having a ball. I am the conversation piece. Too bad I’m too busy tapping, tilting and saying ok glass to notice.
Robin Raskin is the founder of Living in Digital Times. Living in Digital Times will be hosting several major events and conferences at CES 2014 next week, such as the Digital Health Summit and MommyTech Summit.