Google Glass

Every time I see someone proudly trotting down the sidewalk with Glass affixed right above a hint of a grin sneaking off the corner of their mouth, I think to myself “look at that obnoxious doofus.” And then I realize that I, too, have Glass.

Don’t get me wrong, Glass is awesome technology. It has so much potential: healthcare, manufacturing, sports, military, law enforcement, and probably a hundred other fields. But being attached to one’s face while walking around town is really not much more than a novelty at this point. At least in its current form. It’s like a sleek wire bent around the face with a big box on one side. If it was more discrete I would wear them more often in public.

I personally find Glass a few notches down on the annoyance-factor scale than these people who walk everywhere with their heads buried in their phones and walking straight into other people and across streets, completely oblivious to what’s going on around them. Glass is a dream come true for the tech head who needs a continuous IV drip of texts and emails feeding their brains. For this it works well and keeps the head up with eyes forward. But society has spoken and we are Glassholes.

I wore mine around town when Glass was first introduced in early 2013. I hate attracting attention and I could just feel the eyeballs curiously staring upon me, often accompanied by intrigued whispers of “isn’t that those Google glasses things?” Sometimes they poke at each other and nod in my direction. I have hyper-vigilance so I’m well-aware of every murmur and gesture going on around me about the thing on my face.

The vast majority of encounters with strangers I’ve had over Glass have been positive, often resulting in said stranger donning my Glass so they could get a picture of themselves wearing this space-age techno gadget. One guy went so completely bonkers that, after a series of giddy screams, he just had to do a Google Hangout with his friend to show him this marvel he found himself borrowing for a few minutes. I’ve really never had a negative encounter, aside from one or two wary “you’re not recording me right now are you?” inquiries. There are a few anti-tech nutballs in San Francisco that hate them–but then again, these are probably the same people who think the airplanes are spraying us.

I like Glass for driving. Yes driving. Envision a heads-up overlay of the road in front of you with a big fat line plunked down where you’re supposed to turn. That’s what turn-by-turn GPS is like with Glass is like when navigating new territories. It works beautifully and I never need to even glance down at a phone or GPS display for anything. A few politicians jumped on the early bandwagon and outlawed driving-while-Glassed, but I doubt they ever even tried them on. Glass makes driving safer. I guarantee it.

A few bars and restaurants have found they can get free publicity by banning Glass, usually resulting in hissy-fits from the Glasshole, which doesn’t help matters much. It’s a shame because Glass is helping many disabled people who can’t otherwise use traditional phones or tablets. Not to mention those who have melded Glass in with their normal prescription eyewear. The notion that someone would use Glass to secretly take pictures is downright ludicrous. In street photography, I take pictures all the time of people without them knowing it–not with Glass, but with a huge SLR camera. I can discretely take pictures with all of my cameras, even my phone, far better than with Glass. In fact, Glass is the most attention-drawing and obvious way imaginable to take a picture of someone because you need to stare right in their face and wink or talk to your Glass to take a picture. And the other person can see a tiny mirror image of the photo looking back at the Glass. If someone really wanted to take “spy” photos in a bar, one of these $9 key fob cameras would do a far better job than Glass.

And in another case of “if you don’t understand it, ban it,” movie theaters are jumping on the anti-Glass bandwagon. I’m no movie pirate, but if I was, you wouldn’t find Glass in my pirate tool bag. For one, the battery can only last 30-45 minutes of straight video recording. And even if I was to record a piece of the big screen, the viewer would instantly be sea sick from my head movements. I think a GoPro in a soda cup would be the way to go, but Glass? Not a chance. Another case where Glass is made the scapegoat to call attention to a problem that it has nothing to do with.

Google itself is well-aware of the prevailing Glass stigma. That’s why you’ll never see a Google employee wearing Glass at any conference or other event these days. Just like the negative press around the mysterious Google Barge, they want to keep these things on the DL until it all blows over. Sergey Brin used to wear them every time I’d see him in the neighborhood back in 2012, but I don’t think he wears them around much nowadays. I think Google would like to continue quietly developing Glass while the technology advances to the point where the guts of Glass can blend into the form factor of an ordinary pair of glasses.

And the Glass firmware and apps are getting better with each monthly release. When Glass was introduced, all the third party apps available were useless novelty items: Tumblr, Twitter…why on earth would you want to post to your blog or tweet from your Glass? But the apps are finally maturing to the point where they are taking advantage of Glass’ form factor potential.

Imagine going for a jog and seeing a hologram-like image of yourself running next to you, representing your best pace and challenging you to run faster. Or looking at a foreign language and seeing the translation overlaid instantly before your eyes. Or holding a product in your hands and seeing info and reviews appear on it. Imagine getting a visual tour of a foreign city floating in front of you or walking around your own city and having curious facts about nearby landmarks appear before you. All of these can be done today with Glass.

The future of Glass is a big hazy unknown at the moment, but there is so much potential for the hands-free, heads-up wearable that Glass is.

Be A Glasshole