Remember Geordi La Forge from Star Trek: The Next Generation? Did you think it would be the coolest thing ever to have a visor like his — that let you see things nobody else could? In April 2012, Google revealed a concept video about something called Project Glass; it made me wonder if technology had finally started catching up to science fiction.

In the video, you never actually see the apparatus; only the display. It’s possible that some people thought (or hoped, like I did) that Project Glass would look something like Geordi’s visor. The world had to wait only a couple of months to find out. Glass was unveiled at Google I/O 2012, the company’s annual conference for software developers.

A Glass prototype at Google I/O in June 2012

This year, Google unveiled the Glass Explorer program. In February 2013, developers and consumers who wanted to test Google Glass were asked to explain why they wanted to be in the program. In March, 8,000 winners were notified to “stay tuned” for information about how to order their very own Google Glass. Shortly thereafter, Google released the technical specifications for Glass. And finally, excited Explorers — that would be ME!!! — were invited to schedule a fitting in Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York City. IMG_0416

Obviously, since I live in Washington, D.C., I chose NYC for my fitting. On July 6, after touring the new 9/11 Memorial, I headed toward the Meatpacking District, to Chelsea Market, where Google has set up their East Coast “Basecamp” for Glass fittings. When they gave me a temporary ID for the facility, I felt like I had gotten a backstage pass. (Note: I was told the two characters on the pass stand for eXplorer Experience.)

Despite the fact that I had chosen a color during the pre-order process, my guide allowed me to re-think my decision by letting me look at all five options and choose again. I went with basic black. I figure Glass in a dark color might blend with my dark hair and allow me to wear the device in public without standing out like, say, Geordi La Forge.

My very own Glass was brought out almost immediately, and my guide started right into the fitting portion of our session. There wasn’t much tweaking to do: just a bit of bending to the nose piece, and then pivoting the display prism (laterally only) to the proper angle for my eye. Much more time was spent setting up Glass for use with my Google account, as well as teaching me how to make it work.

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At Google Glass fitting in NYC with my Guide

I was warned that because I use an iPhone, rather than an Android, that my Glass capabilities would be less expansive. I would not be able to mirror my screen on the phone (which my guide was able to do, and it was very helpful!), I would not be able to text or place phone calls from Glass, and I would not be able to use turn-by-turn directions. I am now working on borrowing an Android device from a friend so I can determine whether a WiFi-only device will be sufficient to give me full capability, or whether I need a full-on Android phone. (I really hope to avoid paying an additional monthly phone bill.)

glass_menu

I’ve got the basics down: the right side of the temple area of Glass is the “touch pad.”  Tap (or lean back your head) to wake up Glass. Slide finger forward or backward to scroll through the timeline. Slide finger downward to exit and start over. Sounds simple, right? But wait, there’s more. From the welcome screen, which consists of a digital clock and the words “ok glass,” you can utter those words to give Glass voice commands. You can Google (if you have WiFi connectivity, which I don’t because AT&T charges another $60 per month for Internet tethering), take a photo, make a video, place a call (or not, if you have an iPhone), send an SMS message (or not), etc. I’m usually a quick study, but I think my learning curve on Glass is going to last a while. I’ll blame AT&T and my iPhone for now.

After my one-hour fitting was over, I had to quickly get back to Penn Station to catch a train, so I didn’t have much of a chance to test out my new gear. On Sunday, though, I decided to take my Glass to the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival on the National Mall. It was a very hot day, so I wore a white ball cap on my head.  I was also very happy to use the polarized lenses that were included in my Glass kit. Not a single person noticed my weird eyewear, or asked anything about them. All the photos and video I took that day are published to my G+ account.

folklife_glass

During the week, I don’t have much chance to use Glass, since Internet-connected devices aren’t allowed where I work. I have been able to do some “show and tell” with friends and colleagues outside of work, though, which has been great fun. I want to share the experience with as many people as I can. I really enjoy seeing the looks of wonder and awe on people’s faces after just a minute or two experiencing Glass firsthand. Only 9,999 other people in the world have the device, so what are the odds the people around me have access to another person who has the device? You can bet I’ll be taking Glass to my next Sigma Kappa alumnae event so I can share the fun with all my sisters!

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4 Responses to First Week with the New Toy

  1. Teri Centner Teri Centner says:

    P.S. In case you weren’t aware, LeVar Burton, who played Geordi La Forge, is also a Google Glass Explorer. Small world, eh? https://twitter.com/levarburton/status/304609692909441024

  2. Anne says:

    How cool and exciting to get to try out the new technology!

  3. Ashley Nance says:

    Ok Teri that is too cool! I hope my children don’t know about these because I have a feeling they are going to want one. :) Have fun with your new toy!

  4. Mary says:

    This looks like great technology. I felt like I was going to bump into a wall or fall down the stairs while I was watching the video because of everything popping-up. It was distracting. I am afraid this technology will be an unsafe driving distraction worse than texting and cell phone calls.

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