Google Glass + Movember, Yikes!

The Obligatory “First Weekend with Google Glass” Post

Sorry about the selfie

A side effect of working with an awesome company as it’s Hacker in Residence is the ability to play with cool toys (and eat really good candy). This particular toy, happened to be Google Glass. In this inaugural Medium post I’ll give you a first hand account of living with Glass as an extreme n00b with some thoughts on the good, the bad and the future.

I received the invitation (Thanks @ws!) on Halloween (spooky!) and ordered it that same afternoon with the receipt arriving at “Thu, 31 Oct 2013 16:05:06 -0700 (PDT)” to be exact (Yes, I pulled that date/time from the email header). Then, I received a lovely email from Google telling me that Glass has shipped and “Refreshing the page will not actually speed up delivery”. Nice.

The following morning, in the lovely land of Riverside, California (where I’ve never seen Glass in the wild) the ever vigilant UPS driver bounds up our steps (maybe he just walked, but I like to imagine that he bound up the stairs) onward to the front door. I signed for the package, with the quickness, and carefully laid the box on the kitchen table.

The label says that the package came from Kentucky, but it has been less than one day, is it actually here? Indeed. I’ll leave the unboxing as an exercise for the reader.

Next was the software setup process, which took minutes. After adjusting some settings through the browser and scanning a QR code via Glass, all set. Next, I paired the device with my iPhone 5, a bit sadly. You see, Google Glass’ turn-by-turn and SMS features require tethering to an Android phone (booooo, hissssssss). There are rumors that those features will be enabled for us outcasted iPhone users soon, so there is hope and possibly a dream in the works.

Pairing with the iPhone meant I was ready to go forth and explore. My first outdoor task with glass was to pick up my daughter from school. A perfect opportunity to get a ticket! The only tasks I felt comfortable using while driving though, were making/receiving phone calls, shooting photos and video. I’m looking forward to turn-by-turn directions, I think that’s a killer feature.

Already bored of the pre-installed apps, I proceded to install almost all of the available apps. So far the most used have been Path and Evernote. I use Path as a diary (ahem, I mean journal) and Evernote as a capture tool (a la GTD).

Now it was time for a real test run. My next outdoor adventure with Glass would be the Dia de Los Muertos celebration at downtown, Riverside. I was there with family, friends and our little dog. There were two parts to the experience, the technology and the social aspect.

With regards to the technology, the video and photo features were most interesting at an festival type event. I’m pretty sure I would have not been able to hear a conversation via phone using Glass at this event. SMS would have been awesome, but without an Android to tether with, no go. Here is a video clip I took that night.[UPDATE: As of 11/7 it appears that the video has been removed from G+. I did not remove it.]

Socially, the experience was very interesting, to say the least. Let’s start with the stares (note the girl in the white T-shirt in the video above for starters). I’ve never seen so many people do a double take or twist their necks backward to look at me before (even after the pectoral implants). Strange!

There were 3 people who directly inquired about Glass with me that night.

First, was a woman who seemed astounded to have seen Glass in the wild (or maybe it was my hair). She was examining the device from various angles (wish I would have been recording that) while grimly stating that she did not know if she could deal with such a device. She also reminded me that I’ll probably get a ticket. Noted.

Second, a woman asked me if I had a phone attached to my face. Confused, I simply said yes. 3 second stare, “cool”, continue walking. Allright then.

Third, a jolly fellow began explaining to his friends how I had access to the Internet at all times on my face and that he really wanted one for himself. One of the other guys in the group stared with wide eyes for 3 seconds, then simply said, “cool”.

I did get my first heckle at this event too. A passerby exclaimed, he’s got those Googly Goggles with great disdain. He proceded to shake his head in disgust while I could not help but draw a laugh from deep within my belly.

Another night, at Miguel Jr.’s in Riverside, the manager asked me if I was recording, because she was concerned that I was making the cashier nervous; the cashier was not nervous at all. The cashier’s colleague had already made a motion across his face (Pulp Fiction style) and said “Nice!”. I told the manager that you can see if I was recording, because there would be a light visible through the glass. To which she responded, it’s like being on candid camera. The fact I knew what that show was made me feel incredibly old.

Now, lets talk about the good, the bad and the future. I most love the ability to easily take photos and videos, make phone calls and capture notes. These features alone, almost make it worth wearing Glass all day. I enjoy the ability to see my favorite sports team’s score updates, get breaking news via the NY Times and Mashable (thought I need to make these updates more relevant and useful) and post easily to social media sites such as Path, Facebook, Twitter and G+. I also appreciate the built-in Google search and Google Now integration, it’s already come in handy a few times.

I’m still getting used to the feel of this device on my face, so no conclusions there, but I do enjoy the sunglass shades that are now included. I’ve typically wore shades since my Lasik surgery, so having those included is awesome. The shades make any digital screen appear strangely lit and make indoor use difficult, but they do a great job of blocking out the sun and they are easy to remove. Speaking of Lasik surgery, I can say that it appears that wearing Glass all day does cause my eyes to feel a bit more strained than usual at the end of the day. I suspect it’s something that I will adapt to over time. That, or my right eye will explode.

The worst thing about Glass, hands down, is the battery life, especially if you are taking or watching any video (this will cause your battery to drain like Skype on an iPhone).

Looking forward, the features I want to see implemented (or maybe I’ll contrubute to implementing them myself) are:

  • Turn-by-turn and SMS paired with iOS devices
  • Longer battery life ( 1 full day at a minimum )
  • 4G connectivity
  • Live Google Translate as someone is talking to you in a foreign language
  • Pair with bluetooth keyboards
  • Object recognition
  • Foursquare integration
  • Tripit integration
  • Shared grocery lists with minority report style check offs
  • A teleprompter app (should have answers for when people ask, what the @#$! is that on your face!)
  • Port all my most used iOS apps (pretty please)

I’m such a Glasshole. Sorry.