Back in February, I tweeted this out:
"I'm really into knowledge sharing: http://t.co/bOBw9pYSX5 #ifihadglass I'd endeavor to capture even more content to share with the world"
About a month later, Google notified me that I'd been accepted into their Glass Explorers program. Late last week, I picked Glass up. In this post I'll tell you what my first 48 hours with Glass have been like, what's been great about it, and why I don't believe Glass is yet ready for general public use.
Here's a video of me showing up at Google HQ to get Glass:
(In the video you'll notice that the rep actually made me stop taking a video, which I found incredibly ironic, considering that Glass is all about capturing content, and that my tweet was also all about how I capture content).
Here's the first video I actually took with Glass:
(You'll notice the video cut off -- that's because, by default, Glass videos are only 10 seconds long. You have to tap -- twice -- to extend the video to be longer. Here's a longer video I took with Angie, the Glass rep, who was very patient & helpful)
Here's a video of my initial thoughts on Glass while walking around Whole Foods:
So what do I think of Glass?
My brother Sam summed it up well: Glass feels like the first personal computer must've felt. Nobody's quite sure what to do with it. Maybe just accountants would use a computer? And then BAM! everyone is walking around with a mini computer in their pockets 30 years later.
Glass is not intuitive. You can't just hand it over to someone and have them use it (unlike an iPad, which a 3 year old can intuitively pick up and start using with no instruction.) It requires a learning curve, so it's smart that Google is starting with an "Explorers" program. Here's a video of my brother Sam trying to use it with no instruction:
But really, the value of Glass is that it's going to make it OK for innovation to happen in the wearable computing space. For example, there's already an Italian company with a product called GlassUp. VentureBeat says in this article: "it just might be better" than Google Glass. But the most meaningful quote was this one, from the founder of GlassUp:
“It has brought us a lot of publicity,”... “Before Google Glass, everyone said our project was a silly project … and if there is competition there is also an exit opportunity.”
The thing about technology and innovation is that you have to start somewhere. So big kudos to Google for having the chutzpah to be the first to go at it in a big way. This is an opportunity that Apple or Facebook (or some other darkhorse like Sony, HTC or Samsung) could've capitalized on but didn't. Google deserves huge accolades for taking the first big, meaningful step in the wearable computing arm's race.
Here's a breakdown of what works and what doesn't on Glass in its current form:
Having hands-free access to all the world's knowledge just by looking up & to the right is an incredible thing. It feels like some sort of Louis CK skit -- like it's magic. Being able to take a picture, record a video, have messages read to you (in a great text to speech voice) and more is all amazing. So my overall first impression is "Wow. This is totally the future, and it's on my face."
The small things are actually some of the best. Literally the best thing about wearing Glass is being at a networking event with it on. It's an incredibly great ice breaker. I was joking at an event yesterday that I could use a 3D Printer to make a non-working version of Glass for networking events, and already have 80% of the value of Glass.
The next best thing about Glass is being able to easily capture content -- both pics and videos. For someone like me that's fanatical about capturing content for knowledge sharing, this is priceless. The 5 megapixel camera on Glass is good; videos come out in great 720p HD quality. Here's a bunch of us Google Glass Explorers huddling to create a 'world record' at a PepsiCo networking event:
And here I'm capturing a 'largest business card passing circle' world record setting event at the PepsiCo event:
People ask about Glass all the time. Here's a cashier at Whole Foods:
I actually like wearing a hat when I have Glass on to minimize the strangeness factor -- it keeps most people from asking about it (especially since my ShareThis hat is black, and so is Glass):
Being able to take videos hands-free is awesome:
I also really appreciate being able to tilt my head up a bit and just see what time it is. Such a simple aspect of Glass, but I use it often.
The 'Places Nearby' feature is also great, and useful.
I would love to see a QR code scanning app -- that would be super useful:
Glass is clunky -- much harder to use than I expected. The problem is excaserbated for iPhone users, because the Android MyGlass app is not yet available for iPhone users. This keeps some of the functionality -- like heads-up turn-by-turn directions -- from being available. Also, since I don't have a data tethering plan on my iPhone, Glass has no network connectivity unless I'm in a WiFi area -- and even then, I have to specifically connect to an open WiFi network. This means that Glass is basically always offline when I'm out & about, and that really diminishes the value of Glass.
There are other usability issues. Videos can't be shared to Facebook -- only photos. And while videos can be shared to Google+, I couldn't find a way to embed those videos into this blog from G+. That meant I literally had to download each video to my computer, and then re-upload it to Vimeo, a huge pain from a workflow perspective. I really wish there was a Socialcam "glassware" app for Glass to let me use Socialcam right from Glass. That would allow me to post videos to FB, YouTube and Twitter all in one shot.
The battery life is also surprisingly short. I'm not sure what the actual standby/active time is, but it's not uncommon for me to see the battery go from 100% to 75% after under a half hour of use.
It's also hard to swipe the Glass pad when wearing a hat because the brim gets in the way, which is frustrating:
Also, the audio is hard to hear. Glass has a mini speaker that's supposed to use 'bone conduction technology' to make the sound resonate in your head. What actually happens is that it feels like a vibrating Mach5 razor, and it's hard to hear in anything but quiet environments. Here's a picture of the speaker/bone conductor:
One last nitpicking thing: Glass only works with an @gmail account, not a Google Apps account. Since I have all my email flowing into a Google Apps account, and I use Google+ primarily from my Google Apps account, that means i don't have any of my contacts in my Gmail G+ account, which makes Glass less usable from a social perspective.
All of the things above, though, are just early adopter growing pains, and my guess is that the current Explorer group will be willing to overlook most or all of these in exchange for the benefits of being among the first to pioneer this device. It was very smart of Google to roll Glass out this way.
There is, however, one thing that may keep Glass from getting mass adoption and turn it into a "Segway for your face" : Cultural Awkwardness.
In intimate settings, it's incredibly awkward to wear Glass. Think: Dinner parties, work meetings, with spouse & family, or in a public bathroom. I consider myself pretty willing to endure this sort of thing, and yet I've literally had to take Glass off in these situations because the pressure is so great. Literally to the point where people are unwilling to speak openly to me, mostly because they fear they are being recorded. The irony is that it's not at all easy to surreptitiously record someone -- you have to make a few gestures and/or say a voice command to initiate recording. However, that doesn't matter -- what matters is that people think they're being recorded. A cultural shift that makes it OK for people to wear Glass in anything but super public situations is likely many years away, and the problem is that if you take Glass off even just 5% of the time, it loses 95% of its value because you don't always have it on for easy access to capturing / retrieving information, which by definition is the point of it being a par of glasses on your face. I'm honestly not sure that Glass can overcome this barrier in the short term. It may just be too forward-thinking for what humans are ready for.
The good news is that you can actually tell when someone is recording you. The prism lights up, like this, and you can clearly see it if you're facing the person:
There's also the question of safety. My wife refers to Glass as a "cancer stick on my face." While it's hopefully not that, Glass does get unexpectedly hot, and I'd guess that its long-term health effects are unknown. The good news is that cell phones don't seem to have caused large-scale cancer epidemics, so maybe there's hope for early tech adopters like me.
What's Next for Me with Glass:
My new employer, ShareThis and I agreed it'd be cool for us to hack around on Glass a bit together, so we're going to dig into the Glass Developer API to see what kinds of fun stuff we can come up with. I'm really looking forward to seeing what our incredible dev team will be able to do with Glass. More to come, for sure!
I'd love to get your questions/comments below.
Here are a few more pics of Glass.
Here's a great counter point on why Glass will win: http://www.onthemedia.org/story/google-glass-dorky/
(By way of a video that Jeremy found: http://youtu.be/EyzNjPU0GqU?t=
Hey Daniel! I have actually be trying to track down a Google Glass invite, lately. The next device we want to look at integrating into our platform is Google Glass, so having one for our engineers to play with would be amazing!
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Hey, Daniel! It's been too long, my friend, but I'm always connected with the DROdio blog. Love every post. This one especially.
Imagine what an experience designer, motion graphic artist and storyteller (um, me) could do with a tool like Google Glass. If you can spare an invite, I promise to share everything I create with it. In addition, if your team needs anything in support of their "GlassLabs" projects ... you know how to reach me.
I can invite 3 more people to be Glass Explorers. Who's interested? Leave a comment here with your full name if you are! Here's what Glass says:
Daniel, I work in energy efficiency. We go into homes and businesses and conduct audits on site. I am very interested in a glass invite as I would like to do development for our growing number of auditors. They explore the physical realm with hands full of tools and heads full of questions. The more resources I provide them the better. Please help me to get started.
Hi Daniel, your article was very in depth and gave me a great insight on what Glass can do. As a developer I would love to get started and seeing what capabilities Glass can offer. I hope to hear back soon.
I have three invites for Google GLASS. Who wants 'em? Please reply here. If I get more than three interested parties, we'll figure out some way to pick the top 3. NOTE: You'll have to be ready to pony up the $1500 for GLASS!
I've had several people ask me what hardware I use to capture content. First, here are a few examples of the content I've captured:
Pew Research's "9 Tribes of the Internet" presentation
Mobile presentation at the Finnish Embassy
Here's what's in my bag of tricks (total cost $230.83):
Kodak Zi-6 HD Camcorder ($129.99 or get it refurbished for $99.99). This is a great little device and it captures video in HD. I prefer it over the very popular Flip camera for a few reasons: 1) It accepts external SD cards. This is a huge deal, as it gives you expandable storage (the camera uses about 1 gig every 15 mins, so you should get at least an 8 gig card for $20.51). 2) It uses regular AA batteries that can be swapped out when you need to, instead of having to recharge via USB connection.
I've had several people ask me what hardware I use to capture content. First, here are a few examples of the content I've captured: Pew Research's "9 Tribes of the Internet" presentation Mobile presentation at the Finnish Embassy Here's what's in my bag of tricks (total cost $230.83): Kodak Zi-6 HD Camcorder ($129.99 or get it refurbished for $99.99). This is a great little device and it captures video in HD. I prefer it over the very popular Flip camera for a few reasons: 1) It accepts external SD cards. This is a huge deal, as it gives you expandable storage (the camera uses about 1 gig every 15 mins, so you should get at least an 8 gig card for $20.51). 2) It uses regular AA batteries that can be swapped out when you need to, instead of having to recharge via USB connection. Vimeo Plus membership ($50/year), which allows me to upload HD video (YouTube allows this now too; I like the Vimeo interface better but you might not want to pay $50/year) USB Digital Voice Recorder (here's a good one from Amazon for $49.97). Make sure you get the type that just plugs into your computer using a USB connection - no cables required. Omnidirectional tabletop microphone ($22.99, plugs into the digital voice recorder). Great for capturing panelists by just putting it on the table; turns the surface area of the table into a microphone. A regular sized tripod, and the T-Pod tabletop tripod or the QuickPod ($17.37 on Amazon). These are critical to setting the Kodak Zi-6 camera up in places that aren't expecting you to be capturing content! Eneloop rechargable batteries (Costco & Sam's Club sell these for less than Amazon, about $20 for a set) You'll go through batteries quickly - about every 30 to 45 minutes on the Kodak camera, so always have replacements. The Kodak takes two AA batteries and my Olympus recorder takes one AAA (not sure about the RCA but probably similar). Some Additional Tips: I always put the voice recorder up by the speaker or panelists even if I'm videotaping using the Kodak HD camera. This way I get a clean audio source. If necessary, I can always splice them together using an editing program like iMovie, however I always try VERY hard to ensure there is no editing involved (i.e., get the Kodak HD video camera close enough to the speakers to be able to use its audio). Once you start editing, the content uploading process easily can take 10x as long. Do your best to never edit video, even if it looks less professional. Better to have it up & accessible than sitting on your to-do list because you haven't gotten around to doing the edits yet. By the way, an issue with getting the Kodak HD camera close will be that you can't get everyone in your shot if its a panel, etc. Here's a great blog post on a hardware hack to put a wide angle lens on a Flip camera. I haven't tried it on the Kodak yet, but it should work just as well. I have a contractor who transcribes my audio for between 50 cents to 1 dollar per minute of audio captured. This is another reason I use the digital voice recorder and the Kodak HD video camera. It's much easier to upload the audio and send it to her, than to wait until the video is uploaded. Let me know if you'd like her contact information. Also, by recording the audio separately, I can use AudioAcrobat to turn the audio into an iTunes Podcast. Also, Vimeo (and all the upload sites such as YouTube, Viddler, etc) has a limit of 1 gig per video, so I often have to upload the videos in segments (1 of 7, etc.) to upload the entire event.
It’s Sunday, therefore it’s time again to check on my wheel and look at all the progress I’ve made over the last two weeks. (For anyone new who has no clue what I’m talking and wants to know more I wrote my last post about the Wheel of life - here’s the link to Finding Balance in Life)
Ok today I want to share some thoughts on an amazing App I found called – 1 second Everyday.