It’s been just over a week since I picked up Glass from Google’s San Francisco office. So I have now spent a week with something I believed would change how people interact with technology and each other. Something that I’ve wanted since it was first introduced to the public. When I first picked up Glass, my Glass Guide said I should only wear it about an hour a day for the first week, to let my eyes adjust. Most people don’t frequently look up to the top right of their vision so this can cause eye strain in the beginning. Did I heed his warning? Of course not. I wanted to play with my new toy and at night I paid for it with a headache. Had I listened, I may not have had this problem. The first few days I had Glass I wore, and used, it constantly. This would cause a headache at night and my right eye to be a little sore. I’d wake up and feel fine, so at night I took Advil and shrugged it off. I continued my normal usage. It wasn’t until my third day with Glass that I started limiting my usage. The headaches had gotten a little more intense so I decided to finally heed the warning and use it an hour a day. It was hard, but I was able to do it.
On Saturday I decided to see how long I could use Glass, and still be comfortable. My new puppy needed to go to the vet for vaccinations and a wellness check. My partner and I had only been to this vet once before, so I needed directions. Before getting into the car, I asked Glass for the pet hospital by name. It got it the first try, told me how long it would take to get there, and showed me a map of my first turn. Once we were loaded in the car and headed down my street, Glass let out a small chime, lit up the prism, and spoke me my next turn while showing me. When I completed the turn, the screen dimmed to black. To me, this is not only the best navigation I’ve used, but the least distracting. The screen wasn’t always on to distract me, and because the prism sits just above my eye, it wasn’t blocking my vision. Most people seem to think that Glass blocks your vision. If worn properly, it shouldn’t. Even if Glass did block your vision, you can see through the prism even when Glass is actively displaying content. The best part of Glass’s navigation is that once you tell it where you’d like to go, it doesn’t require any further input. No more will I have to reach across my dashboard where I used to mount my Note 3 and interact with Waze. I can just gently tilt my head and I will be shown a map if I forget where I need to go next or I can just wait for Glass to tell me as I get closer. The directions Glass gave me were perfect. We got there in one piece, and earlier than expected. I didn’t have to take my hands off the wheel, or my eyes off the road. While driving with Glass, I only used it for navigation.
While I wasn’t distracted by Glass while driving, some may be. If you are the type of person that can’t handle listening to the radio or changing the station, then clearly you shouldn’t wear Glass while driving, or use the radio. Distraction is a word defined differently by every person. For example, as I write this, I have a Jack Russell Terrier running around my feet and Kendrick Lamar in my ear but I am able to write freely. Driving with Glass, or any GPS, phone, or what have you, boils down to personal responsibility and common sense. Please be safe and think about what you can and cannot handle as a person before you get into your vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds and endogenous your life, and the life of others.
At the vet I was shocked that no one had asked me about Glass. Some seemed curious, others did double takes but no one actually asked. This is worth mentioning because the vet was quite busy. On Friday when I had a plumber over to fix our stopped sink he couldn’t help but ask me. During his visit he would steal glances and finally when he was ready to leave his curiosity got the better of him, “Is that Glass?” he asked. He then asked me a series of questions ranging from what it did, to how it felt. I answered the questions and did a screencast to my Note 3 so he could see what I was doing. He had a smile on his face the entire time and punctuated what I said with an excited, but withheld “wow”. Finally the topic changed to privacy. “Are you recording me now?” he asked politely. I said I wasn’t, and then I showed him what it looks like when someone with Glass records video. I showed him that I had to constantly stare at him uncomfortably and that the prism above my eye was lit the entire time. Lastly I told him to look at the prism closely and that he could see himself. He laughed and said that it was fairly obvious and that privacy concerns seem to be overblown. Lastly I told him that recording video eats the battery and that it’s not worth it, to me anyway, to be a creeper.
In my first week with Glass I was able to partake in what Google has called their biggest software update to Glass yet, XE 12. Google released XE 12 on Tuesday and the update is just as big as they said it would be. So big in fact, that I it ruined an article I was writing at the time. XE 12 answered a few of my complaints about Glass, namely YouTube upload and Hangouts. On Wednesday, Google also introduced new Glassware: The Wall Street Journal, Weather Alert and Winkfeed. Out of those I have only installed Weather Alert but I haven’t gotten a chance to experience it yet. One thing I really want for Glass is an app store to better organize the Glassware. As it stands now, it’s just a long list organized by Alphabetical order. My favorite thing about XE 12 is Hangouts integration. I can now finally talk to my friends on Hangouts without having to grab my Note. While XE 12 is a feature packed update, it also brought lag. Scrolling through the UI with the trackpad now can sometimes cause this jitteriness and slow down. What is odd is that it doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does I have to shutdown and reboot because it gets so bad. Another thing I’ve noticed about XE 12 is worse battery life. On XE 11 I wasn’t almost unaware that Glass even had a battery. It was truly as magical as I had hyped it to be. With XE 12 I noticed that simple things like messaging kill the battery fairly quickly.
So far my journey through Glass has been inspiring. Like all new technologies, there are quirks and bits missing but I think Google is doing a fantastic job updating Glass and making it the best it can be. Glass will only improve and continue to get better. For now I will continue my journey through Glass and document it to the best of my abilities.