After about a week of walking (and driving) around with Glass, I thought it was time to share a few of my initial experiences.
First, I admit it took a few days to get used to having the Glass frame and the prismatic screen floating above my eyes. I’ve worn glasses for years. I wear contacts now mostly, but having the experience with wearing glasses meant getting used to the Glass frame wasn’t that difficult. The screen and camera stick out a bit more so you can see them – I’ve explained to people that to me it’s like wearing a ball cap and having the brim just above you eye line. It’s not annoying, just something you are aware of for a while at first. I have to admit that the longer I wear Glass during the day, the less noticeable any of it becomes…until I catch people staring.
For the most part, I’ve had more sideways glances from people on the street and in stores than real stares, but some people do stare. I can’t tell if they’re wondering what bionic device I’m wearing for a disability (which I guess technically makes them rude) or if they know what Google Glass is and are excited to see one in the wild. Others are probably fearful that I’m clandestinely filming everything they are doing. So far, that has to be the number one question I’ve received from people at work and in the local coffee shop: “Are you recording a video of everything right now?” I tell most of them, “No, sorry, you’re just not that interesting.” I always do it with a chuckle so they don’t take offense. I did overhear a group of guys talking as they walked by me in the parking lot the other day and one of them said, “He has that Google Glass.” Ah, the life of an explorer, to be stared at and talked about. 🙂
On a side note, the latest software update allows Glass Explorers to take a picture just by winking. I’ve used the feature for quick shots (not of other people, I should add) and it could be handy because it’s so fast. It’s experimental, and I’m not sure it will stick, but it does worry me because people are already freaked out about Glass wearers taking their picture without consent. By the way, I can do that about 85-percent as effectively with my iPhone, too.
My kids had to get used to my wearing Glass around town. One of them asked why I needed it at the store, which was a great prompt for me to talk about the potential for Glass in everyday life. I suspect she was soon sorry she asked. I may have gone up a few notches on the “embarrassing parent” scale because of Glass, but my kids will adjust without being too scarred, I hope. The kids did see one major benefit of Glass firsthand when we went to a holiday lights display at the local zoo. The ability to wake Glass by tilting your head up combined with verbal commands for taking a picture meant I got all of my shots without having to remove my gloves and dig a camera or phone out of my pocket. It worked well, even when the temperature was only in the teens and battery drain was noticeable but not horrible. All-in-all, it was fabulous!
As for interactions at work, the results are mixed. I’ve had everything from, “Are those the new glasses thing? How cool!” to someone looking at me and just bursting out laughing. Some folks have taken to giving me a good-natured hard time about wearing Glass, but I work in an office where people dish it out and take it equally well, so it doesn’t bother me. Most people are curious and wonder what I’m seeing, what I’m doing, how I’m using it, what the point is, etc. That’s the stuff I expect to hear being an “explorer.” As for negative or comical reactions, c’est la vie. I’m a press secretary for a politician. If I really cared what people said or thought about me, I couldn’t do my job effectively.
There was a blog post yesterday by a gentleman at Slashgear in which he talked about being ashamed of wearing Glass in public, and so he tends not to. Here was my response:
After reading your article Chris Davies, it seems to me that the only shame is that you’re squandering an amazing opportunity by not using Glass to its full potential. Please don’t take this as me being judgmental, because that’s not how it’s intended – and because you raise some real issues to be considered.
What many people interested in Google Glass don’t understand is that joining the program makes you an explorer, which means you will have to travel through uncharted territory and find a way to connect with the natives (those without Glass) or suffer the consequences of being misunderstood, feared and perhaps even hated before being roasted on a spit. And you will have to make this trip with equipment that may at times let you down and you will have to find a way to adapt in unfamiliar surroundings.
I’ve been wondering when Google will start its secondary program:Google Glass Ambassadors. It is becoming apparent rather quickly that we are going to need some official diplomats on the scene very soon.
I have found that I am taking Glass off when in meetings as they are a distraction – not to me but those whom I am meeting with. That’s especially true now while Glass is new. After all, they know if I’m staring at my phone or iPad and not giving them my full attention. They just don’t know how to tell that yet with Glass. (Hint: if the video screen is dark, Glass is asleep, so I really am listening to you.)
I suspect that over time others around me will stop noticing Glass, especially if I wear it more often and not less. Overall, the negative reactions I’ve received are far outweighed by the positive interactions I’ve had. Glass is not the right tool for every situation but there are plenty of times when it could prove useful. And I intend to be a true explorer by testing when and where Glass is a positive or a negative. That is , of course, except a public restroom. I’m not testing it there because I already know it just doesn’t belong.
Now, if only the guys at the urinals next to me would figure that out about their cell phones!