I had noticed my friend and CEO of the awesome TeeFury Company (Unique T-shirts only sold for 24 hours), Sam had posted something about getting a pair of Google Glass(es) on Facebook and I immediately posted that I would love to take a look at them. He was gracious enough to give them to me to try out for a few days over the holidays.
After setting them up (Which involved signing up on Google and generating a QR code which held my information, and Wifi Router SSID/Password) and pairing it to my iPhone, I was ready to go. Or was I? There was a bit more things to set up. Do you want to “Wink” to take a picture? (Yes) You can do that right on the glasses themselves. There was a few other options, like powering off, if they tilt down enough, or sleep options. The option to add contacts needed to be done on a PC. Some reason it didn’t pull over my gmail contacts (Or at least I don’t think it did) and I had to go into my “Glass Contacts” to add at least myself. More on that in a moment.
So I got them connected and going. I was worried the small screen being less than 2” in front of my eyeball was going to be a problem. I wear reading glasses and can’t see anything up close. And there is no room for your regular glasses in-between (or over) the Google Glass. However once the screen was up and running it was as sharp as can be! It’s small at .5 inches, but it seemed to be big enough. Not sure why I could see it clearly, but the screen appeared to be floating out in front of me, with no blurriness issues from my poor sight. One thing that my friend noticed was you can adjust the screen in and out, but not up or down. Playing with the Glasses, the viewing angle worked best when the glasses were a bit above your eyelevel and you needed to look up a little to see the screen. It makes sense as the screen shouldn’t be directly in front of your eye, and more at the eyebrow level.
Interacting with them was a little confusing at first. Now, since this pair was borrowed, I’m not sure if I missed out on an included owner’s manual, but the “plastic” side of the glasses (on the right side) acts as a touchpad. You can swipe up or down, or forward or backwards to activate, scroll, pinch/zoom (never got that to work) and tap to enter. There are only two buttons. One power button and one capture button. The thing labeled “Glass” back by your ear, looks like a button, but is actually a bone conduction speaker that feeds audio right into your brain! Google Glass understands voice control as well. I was mostly impressed with speaking and having it understand my voice. Moving through the menus whether by voice or by touchpad/buttons, took a little figuring out, but once I understood the commands and gestures, it was easy to navigate through the controls.
Using them, I really only got to search the web and take pictures and videos. Not sure if it was because I was using a iPhone, but the GPS option was not available. Viewing YouTube on the Glasses, didn’t give me a fullscreen view unless I happened to “google” and select a video right from the results page. Otherwise going to YouTube and finding a videos gave me a small frame, with the YouTube logo at the top. Taking pictures and videos were certainly easy and the pictures and video it took were decent, but it wouldn’t let me preview anything before I could snap a picture. Some of the pictures weren’t framed exactly how I thought they would be because of the lack of a preview. The wink option to take picture worked great, and recognized a wink vs. a blink. Fun to goof around with, but I would still prefer a camera or even my cell phone. One thing that was a bit annoying was the need to add contacts to send the pictures to someone or to even post to my Google+ page. (Wait, I have one of those?). After I added myself to the Google Glass Contacts, I could at least send myself a picture/video.
Here is my pug Cosmo, in my backyard.
Which brings me to the summary. Wearing technology like this is not for everyone. You look at best like a cyborg, and at worst a total dork. Friends commented that I should wear them “out” and record people’s reactions. Umm, no. You would certainly start to look creepy. I am much more of a fan of smartwatches. Now, I don’t have one yet, as I am still waiting for Apple to introduce their watch, but I have been eyeing the Pebble quite a bit. The price is right, the battery lasts more than 24 hours, and it does what a smartwatch should. I’ve seen the Galaxy Gear and think they tried to do too much. Camera in the strap? Not the best idea. Speaker phone on your wrist? Not as dorky as Google Glass, but close. The screen is fantastic (at the expense of the battery life) and navigating it looked good. (This is all from a 30 second demo my friend Ken gave me so take this with a grain of salt) I want my watch to just tell me who is calling, what the text message I just got said, maybe link up to weather and RunKeeper to tell me how far I’ve run. If I need to make a call, I can pull out the phone. Maybe have a couple of pre-determined messages to reply or send back to a text or call if I am busy. I don’t need a Dick Tracy watch on my wrist, I just want a smaller duplicate screen to see what is up. Until then, I thank Sam for loaning me the Google Glass Explorer Edition ($1500) to try out, but you won’t catch me looking like a Cyborg at South Coast Plaza anytime soon.