Almost none of the questions I receive about Glass ask how it is to wear it in public, but it’s one of the more interesting topics of discussion. I began my life through Glass in December. Since then I’ve been wearing it almost every day and have had a number of interesting encounters with strangers. Spending this time with Glass has made it abundantly clear to me that everyday people, know almost nothing about Glass. The range of emotions that I encounter wearing Glass is fascinating. Sometimes people’s faces will light up, others turn up in utter disgust. Others experience complete confusion and ask me what that jazz is I have on my face. One thing that Glass doesn’t do, is render people speechless. Almost everyone has something they want to comment on or question. Although I have yet to have a ‘bad’ encounter with Glass, I’ve come close.
When I wear Glass, I carry myself as I normally do. I’m my normal eccentric, sometimes loud, self. I always offer interested individuals demos and even let them try it on which surprises most people. I want to give people the Glass experience I had when I first picked up Glass in San Francisco. People should be excited about new technologies, not fear them. Even when I have less than pleasurable Glass encounters, I am always pleasant, cheerful and I try to dispel any misconceptions or worries the person may have. Usually, they apologize and walk away with a better understanding of Glass.
Usually the people I encounter aren’t tech savvy and only know a little about Glass. Usually what they’ve heard is misinformation they received from their local news channel. Shocking! Once in awhile I meet someone like myself, a nerdy, geeky-type who asks really interesting questions that I occasionally don’t have an answer for.
Typically a Glass encounter starts like an ill conceived drug deal or a blind date meet-up. Someone will walk up to you, mutter, “is that Google Glasses”? I unknowingly in the moment mutter back “yea, it is” because I like to feel like a secret agent too. Once we omit the veil of our espionage-style meet-up, the questions begin to flow. One thing of note is that as I talk people’s faces continue to light up. While in it’s current form Glass doesn’t do a whole lot, it’s ability to do them so well and stay out of the way is the exact thing that people are interested in. The simplicity for most people is the most compelling feature. From my conversations with people I think most assume that the interface is going to be like a smartphone’s. Then when they wear Glass for the first time they’re shocked by it’s simplicity and usefulness. One person said it felt light, which I think is the perfect description for the Glass UI. Most of the questions I get about Glass are fairly typical but some have been profound. Here is a list of some of the questions I get during a typical encounter with a non-tech savvy person and how I answer them:
Q: What do you see/what can it do?
A: I see a see-through prism that sits just above my right eye. The display isn’t on all of the time, and when it is I can still see through it. I can get directions, news-type information like stocks, breaking news, sports scores, etc. I can send and receive emails, phone calls, text messages and hangouts. Depending on the Glassware I have installed, I can do various other things.
Q: Do you use it while driving, is it distracting?
A: I only use it while driving if I’m using navigation. The navigation isn’t distracting, to me, because the prism only comes on when you need a direction. Before Glass turns on the screen and gives you a direction, it alerts you with a small tone to tell you. This way there are no surprises or distracting elements. The prism is never directly in your normal line of sight, and even if it were you can see through it. However, distraction is a word defined differently by every person. What I find distracting and what others find distracting could be and probably are widely different. I always use caution when using Glass in the car. I do not use Glass’s other functions while driving.
Q: How do I get Glass?
A: Currently Glass is invite only to what Google calls the Explorer program. You can sign up to be a part of this program at http://www.google.com/glass/start/how-to-get-one/ . Signing up doesn’t guarantee you’ll get in but there are communities on Google+ that often give away invite codes.
Q: Is it a phone, is it another bill?
A: No, it is not a smart phone. It is a companion device that relies on a constant connection to your smartphone for data. You will need a smartphone running either iOS or Android to take advantage of what Glass has to offer. Depending on your smartphone data plan, you may need to increase your data plan depending on how much you are currently using.
Q: Why don’t they just release it?
A: The Explorer program is designed to be limited in reach so that only people who are truly interested in helping Google make Glass the best it can be. Google wants to make sure that when Glass does launch that it is truly ready.
Q: Are you recording me?
A: Nope! I often will show them how the recording feature works, and show them my timeline as proof I haven’t snapped photos or recorded video of them. I then explain that if Glass were to record all the time that the battery would be dead fairly quickly. I also inform them that if I were recording them I would have to be constantly staring at them and that the prism would be lit up.
On rare occasion, I meet someone like myself who knows about Glass, and is tech-savvy. These people ask more technological and involved questions. Sometimes there is some overlap in the questions.
Q: How many megapixels is the camera?
A: It’s a 5 megapixel camera.
(I usually end up showing them a few pictures I’ve taken with Glass. They are often surprised by the quality of the photos.)
Q: Is it heavy?
A: Nope, I honestly forget I’m wearing it most of the time.
Q: How is the battery life?
A: If you record a lot of video or navigate for long distances it takes a toll on the battery. That said with light navigating and snapping a few pictures I can easily make it through the day.
Q: Do the commoners freak out over privacy concerns? -This guy was actually really funny.
A: For the most part no, but I have had a few people that were very concerned when they saw me wearing Glass. Once I explained how it works they seemed to be at ease and realize that it wouldn’t be worth it to record them. I then explain to them that they are always being recorded by the various security cameras that are in the area. Sometimes I even point them out.
Q: Do you have to have Android to use it?
A: Nope, you can download the MyGlass app from the AppStore and connect Glass to your iPhone.
Q: How is the third party app catalog, are the apps paid?
A: I took my Glass Guide’s advice to heart when he said less is more. The less apps you have the better experience it will be. That being said there are many popular apps available for free like Path, Evernote, Twitter, etc.
Q: Do you think the goal of Glass has been achieved? While wearing Glass are you out of your smartphone and living more?
A: I would say yes. Glass gets rid of the need to constantly pull my phone out of my pocket to check things like the weather and time. Texts and emails can be answered more easily and quickly. It really does make most tasks quicker and easier than the smartphone.
Q: Do you browse the web and watch YouTube videos on Glass?
A: No, I’d rather use my smartphone since it has a bigger screen. Or ideally if I’m at home my TV.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the questions I receive but these are the most common. Generally people seem to be excited about Glass but they only know what the news tells them which is often misinformation. Hopefully Google will start a marketing campaign soon and people will get official answers to their many questions.