A few months ago I applied to be Google Glass Explorers—a group of only about 8,000 who would be the first to get the opportunity to purchase and experience Glass. My entry was selected and a couple months later and I received an invitation to purchase Glass and travel to New York to pick and receive a one-on-one introduction to the device with a Glass Guide.
Glass is a head-mounted display that displays information right in front of your eye—similar to a heads up display in a car or cockpit. It can display and read incoming text messages, place calls, give directions, answer questions via Google search, take photos/videos and share on linked social networks.
July 10, 2013
6:30 a.m Woke up and hit snooze.
6:40 a.m. Actually got up and put on running clothes.
7:00 a.m. Arrived at the park, ran 5K. Run started cloudy and rainy but ended with a blue sky. Lake was calm and secluded.
7:45 a.m. Back home, showered and got ready.
8:26 a.m. Arrived at the Rapid station. Checked my flight status through the United Airlines iOS app.
8:36 a.m. Boarded Redline train.
8:45 a.m. Got off Redline train by mistake at Brookpark station because conductor said “last stop”—which meant last stop before the airport, not actually the last stop (very confusing!).
9:02 a.m. Hopped on another train and arrived at the airport 3 minutes later.
9:15 a.m. Went through airport security, which had no line, got a compliment on my shoes from one of the TSA officers.
9:20 a.m Grabbed a whole grain bagel & latte (skim and extra shot) at Breugers. Got another compliment on my shoes! Found a seat by an outlet to camp out until boarding and started this log.
10:29 a.m. While walking to the gate I received a push notification from United app shows up on my Pebble smart watch notifying me of a gate change.
10:35 a.m. Boarded flight. Having a mobile boarding pass and no checked bags really saves time!
10:55 a.m. Flight took off. Had a single seat to myself. Took vitimins then read magazines.
12:15 p.m. Flight landed at LGA.
12:30 p.m. Took a cab to Chelsea market. No wait!
1:10 p.m. Arrived at Chelsea market, the Glass pickup location, which is right across from Google’s NYC offices. My appointment wasn’t until 2:00, so I walked around a bit and got a quick lunch.
2:00 p.m. Once I found the right elevator, I headed upstairs. Immediately when the elevator doors opened I heard music playing, looked in that direction and saw an illuminated “Glass” sign. Walked that way where a receptionist, wearing Glass, checked me in.
2:05 p.m. I had short wait in the reception area then my Glass Guide, Brian, walked out to greet me.
2:05-3:30 p.m. We walked into a large room with around 15 stations where Glass Explorers were being trained by Glass Guides. Somewhat loud music was playing and there was a bar with drinks and snacks. Everyone was wearing Glass, even the bartender.
We first headed over to a display holding one of each color of Glass. He asked me to try on the charcoal one, which I had chosen, to make sure I liked the color on myself. After checking it out in the mirror we walked over to one of the stations.
He asked someone else to bring over a charcoal Glass and a beverage of my choice—red wine. First step, unboxing!
After taking it out of the box, he instructed me on how to adjust it to my face. The nose pads adjust allowing you to raise or lower it on your nose. Ideally, you want it to be about at your brow line. Once adjusted, I took it off to turn it on. After a short booting period, an image was on the display. I had to adjust the angle of the display (it tilts in and out) to see the entire image.
Using the MyGlass Android app Brian showed me how to login to my Google account and setup the WiFi. This can also be done through a web browser if you’re on iOS or just rather do it that way. After the initial setup, a QR code appears on the app (or website) which you scan with the Glass camera to configure your account on the device. Next step was a quick Bluetooth pairing between Glass and the Android smartphone I was carrying. The app or web app is also used to connect Glass with all your other accounts like Facebook & Twitter. Unfortunately it does not support Instagram yet.
After a few minutes, the setup was complete. He walked me through the basic operation of the device. Tap, or tilt your head up, engages the device. Swipe forward or back to move through cards, tap to select, swipe down to go back. A quick press of the top button takes a photo, long press takes a 10 second video.
We then walked through how to do some basic tasks—take a picture/video, search Google, share on Google+ and Twitter. Sharing is heavily tied to Google+.
Knowing some people back at thunder::tech were standing by, we decided to do a quick Google Hangout (called Video call on Glass XE7). I first had to create a Google+ circle with just the people I wanted to include so I did and added a few t::t people. I think some were having technical difficulties, but Justin was able to answer. We had a quick chat, I showed him around a bit, then it as back to learning about Glass.
We also went over how to do a basic Google search. You can ask it pretty much anything and it will answer. On a Chrome Book, we logged into my account to link up some other social accounts. Brian also showed me how to find 3rd party (not officially supported) Glasswear (kind of like apps) in the developer section of the Glass site. He also told me that every Glass Explorer’s account is automatically whitelisted for developing Glasswear and that I could add team members to the account!
I had asked a few more questions about Glass—
How is the battery life? — Can go a full day with basic tasks on a charge. Video and navigation are huge drains on the battery. Recording video, it only lasts about 45 minutes.
How long does it take to fully charge? — About an hour.
Will the Explorer Edition be supported after the consumer release? — Yes, they want to treat their early adopters well.
What are the limitations when tied to iOS vs Android? — No text messaging or navigation. Can still make calls and use Bluetooth Tethering (assuming your wireless account supports it). There is no MyGlass app for iOS but you can the web interface to configure.
We wrapped up and I walked around to take some shots of the space.
Realizing the battery was almost dead and my Glass wasn’t running the latest version of the software, he let me plug it in for a bit to update to the latest software (XE 7) over their WiFi and charge. The update took about 10 minutes to complete. Brian and I chatted while this was happening and he gave me the third compliment on my shoes.
On the way out, I noticed that one of the Google Now cards on Glass had automatically pulled in my flight status based on a confirmation in my Gmail account. It showed that my flight was delayed by 23 minutes. Google Now (LINK to google now) is a service that displays “the right information at the right time.” It will analyze information from your Gmail, calendar and other Google services and show “cards” with information such as directions to your next appointment, drive time to work in the morning or drive home in the afternoon, weather, package tracking, sports scores, flight status and other information when it is relevant.
3:40 Left the Glass pickup location, too a cab to the airport. Shot a few shots with Glass, then the battery died. Realizing there’s no reason to wear it with a dead battery, I boxed it back up.
4:25 p.m. Arrived at LGA, went through security. Got some coffee and found an outlet to sit by and charge up Glass. Went through some emails on my phone and updated this post. At this point I realized how much technology I was carrying (an iOS smartphone, Android Smartphone, iPad tablet, Pebble smart watch and now Glass).
5:43 p.m. Received an alert from United app, also pushed to Pebble, that flight was canceled and rescheduled for the next morning. No flights out due to weather.
6:45 p.m. While waiting in line at a customer service desk I launched the United app to discover that my flight was automatically re-scheduled for the next morning. After an hour waiting in line and hearing others in front of me unsuccessfully try to find another flight out that day, I just asked if they would pay for a hotel room. They wouldn’t since it was weather related. I took out my iPhone and quickly booked a room through Expedia and took a cab back to Mahnattan. On the way to the hotel, I snapped a few shots of the city with Glass.
7:30 p.m. Checked in to Pod Hotel. It was almost like a nice dorm room. Bunk beds and there were 4 shared bathrooms per floor.
8:00 p.m After quickly charging the electronics, I headed out to grab some essentials since I didn’t pack anything. By the time I walked to the subway and took it to Canal and Broadway, it was 8:45 and stores close at 9. Quickly went through Top Man, bought shirts, underwear, body spray and socks. Then went to Duane Reade to pick up antiperspirant, toothpaste and a toothbrush.
9:30 p.m. Hopped on the Subway to go back to the hotel.
10:00 p.m. Back to the hotel and cleaned up for dinner. Luckily I found a good place open late and only a block away.
10:45 p.m. Made it to the Restaurant, The Smith, had dinner and a glass of wine. Got the fourth compliment on my shoes for the day (really, four in one day, they aren’t that great!).
11:50 p.m. Back at the hotel, I was ready for bed.
The next day, July 11
6:45 a.m. Back up again.
7:30 a.m. Checked out, went to Starbucks (paid with the Starbucks app) and caught a cab.
8:05 a.m. Arrived at LGA, slight line for security. The TSA agent checking boarding passes asked what kind of glasses I was wearing. I briefly explained that it was Google Glass which is sort of like a wearable computer. She advised to put it through the x-ray machine.
8:30 a.m. Got a bagal, more coffee and water for breakfast.
9:00 a.m. Arrived at the gate. Boarding time was supposed to be 9:03 but the aircraft hadn’t arrived yet.
9:35 a.m. Boarded aircraft. Took a quick video with Glass as I walked to it.
9:45 a.m. Takeoff. Finally on my way back to Cleveland.
10:00 a.m. Got out my iPad to work on this post.
10:30 a.m. Decided to turn on Glass for a second to take a quick in-flight video.
10:45 a.m. They are asking us to turn off electronic devices
11:00 a.m. Touchdown in Cleveland. I took the Redline back home, dropped some stuff off then headed to the office.
At first I was impressed and amazed by the device. It’s like wearing a small computer that you can glance at just by looking up and interact with using voice or touch. It’s light-weight, comfortable to wear and more durable than it looks. The frame is made of titanium and can bend and twist without loosing it’s form. It’s also water resistant so a light rain won’t bother it. It comes with a polarized “shades” attachment turning them into a good pair of sunglasses.
Although my flight cancellation was somewhat of a pain, it did give me a little time to experience Glass as a traveler in New York. Surprisingly I didn’t get any strange looks! Only one person on the subway asked if I was wearing Glass. I mostly used it to take photos and short videos, which is my favorite feature of the device. It’s great to have a camera that’s always aimed in the direction you’re looking and ready to take a photo or video with a quick button press or voice command.
Unfortunately, I started to become slightly disappointed in the device. It consistently gave me totally wrong answers to questions. I asked how to get to a specific subway station and which direction I was walking—neither of which it couldn’t answer. Upon landing in Cleveland I asked when the next train left the airport, which it also couldn’t answer—and Cleveland’s public transit system is linked up with Google Transit. Another odd thing I found was that the videos you take, which get synced to your Google+ account while the device is on wifi and charging, can’t easily be shared on YouTube—a Google property. And as far as fitness applications, like I had envisioned in my application video, nothing yet.
Overall it’s a very interesting technology that’s in it’s infancy. Although it’s not perfect today, there’s a lot of potential for it moving forward. Google continues to improve the software and is taking feedback from Explorers on how to make it better prior to the consumer release later this year. I also wonder if the average person will be willing to wear it. Although sleak, it does look a bit odd. Hopefully their partnership with Warby Parker will make it more appealing to a general audience.