So here it is—a skeptic (me) wearing the Google Glass! Are you aware of what this newest leap into newness can do? Like your smart phone, it can take pictures and video, show your email, conduct searches, use GPS, receive phone calls, share pics with friends and more — faster than a smart phone and all on voice command. And how do you see all this? There’s a little square piece of glass connected to the frame over your right eye. But you don’t have to look up at it—you just look straight ahead and you can read and see anything you ask for!
Of course saying I’m a skeptic makes you now look for reactions: Does it really work? How does it feel? Is it comfortable, easy, fun? What does it do to you as you wear it? Would you want one?
Well, let’s start by saying it is mind-boggling! I don’t care how sophisticated you are and how many gimmicks you’ve already played with, this one is a lulu. It really does do what I said it did. Just think about the freedom—you’re not holding anything! By just plain looking straight ahead you see whatever you requested. And what a sense of regal power you get when you summon it and say (or bellow) “OK Glass, take a picture” or “ OK Glass, who was Vercingetorix?” (bet you’ll look that one up!) Another goody is that when you take pictures, others are not aware of it, which really matters in foreign countries where there can be bad reactions to the old point and shoot style. It feels light and totally comfortable on the face and you don’t have to fish for your phone whenever you get a call or to look something up or read emails.
Most of all- it’s such fun! It’s like playing pretend except it works. How many remember the old comics with Dick Tracy’s magic watch that he talked into? One of those is coming soon from Apple, I hear. So the Glass plays right into- actually surpasses -the games we’ve all been playing with the rush of equipment that keeps rolling toward us, topping each other , faster and faster.
OK – the negatives. In the first version you can talk but can’t hear well on phone calls (2nd version already has an ear bud to fix that.) It does get commands wrong and some things are not as easy to access as smartphones. You do have to learn how to do everything on it but some of it is counterintuitive. And of course it’s not yet available to anyone except those who won the first lottery by describing why a Google Glass would be useful, important, meaningful, helpful in their work or lives. And even those lucky winners had to pay $1500 for the privilege of being the first explorers.
But what’s really funny is to scan the internet to read what is being complained about as other negatives. Here are some quotes:
“They can make interacting with someone awkward.” WHAT? And burying your face in a smartphone is conducive to interacting with others???
“Makes you question whether the Glass wearer is focusing on you or their ever present screen” Again, have you noticed interactions at restaurant tables or between young people—are they tuned into you or tuned out and into a device??? Also “there’s an ever-present temptation to tune out the world around you.” Well, friends, that’s the daily activity everywhere now as we substitute the interaction with a device for any so- called time consuming one-on-one human contacts.
So far Google is handling the technical negatives in a most creative way. The first group of Glass Explorers is a constant source of feedback and criticism and being built into a special community. They get monthly Glass Support emails with the latest questions and what’s-news and where the Glass hangouts are in their area are. They send new instructions about what’s now possible as they refine and add onto the systems. And Version 2 is on its way.
Bottom line: Another step away from the atavistic, old, human systems of communicating personally – verbally, visually, physically- and onto our next lives as carriers and progenitors of mechanical, robotic, controlled and edited forms of reaching each other. Who knows what permanent effects this will have on the future of our species… But it surely is magic, and fun.
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