Just over a year ago, Google announced the first opportunity for those outside of the company (and a select group of developers who had attended the previous Google I/O) to get their hands on the most hyped piece of tech in recent memory. It was time for Google Glass to meet the public (albeit in a very limited and exclusive fashion). Only prepared to offer for sale a decidedly limited number of Glass units, Google would select the lucky few in that age-old human way – with a contest.
That contest simply asked one question of potential Explorers (Google’s term for early Glass adopters): If you had Glass, what would you do with it? There were many fantastic entries centered around healthcare, improving quality of life for people with disabilities, bettering safety conditions for firefighters, and the like. As primarily a musician, I had nothing quite so virtuous to offer. As a transhumanist and technophile, though, I really wanted to be one of those first Glass Explorers, and so I offered as my entry that I would share the perspective of a musician from a first-person view for those who may not otherwise ever get to experience that for themselves.
After a short time, Google began to notify the chosen few. Unfortunately, it seemed I was not destined to be among them. Although I was a bit bummed, it really made no difference one way or another, as the $1500 plus tax and a trip to New York or California to acquire the device were certainly not compatible with my budget. And so, on I moved.
You can imagine, then, my astonishment when I awoke on June 1st of 2013 to a message on G+ from the Glass page stating, “Your Glass is now ready! Please purchase within 14 days. Follow the link below to pay and schedule your pickup.” To this day I still have no idea what the deal was with that, but I wasn’t about to argue.
Perhaps someone originally chosen decided not to go through with the purchase, and so an additional slot opened up.
The money issue remained, but thanks to the awesome generosity of a few folks (a world-class marksman, an autodidactic knowledge-spreading transhumanist, and the son of a legendary American songwriter, among them), I was able to procure the necessary funds and place my order.
Of the five available colors, I decided to go with Cotton (white), figuring they would be fairly noticeable and would invite the sort of opportunities for educating the general public that constitute an important part of the Explorer program.
And largely, those are the sort of interactions I’ve had with the public regarding Glass. Far from what is often portrayed by the media, most people, at least in my experience, aren’t frightened of Glass. They’re genuinely curious about it. I long ago lost count of the number of people who have stopped me – at the supermarket, at gas stations, in bars, and pretty much everywhere else I go – to ask about the device.
“What can you do with it?” “How do you control it?” “What do you see in there?” “You can really surf the web on that thing?” And the most common questions I’ve gotten in my ten months with Glass? “When can I get one” and “how much?”
Which is not to say that I have not come across at least a few of those frightened types that much of the media goes on about. Just rather that they are the exception, from what I have seen, to a public mostly eager for their own chance to acquire Glass, or some other device like it.
My experience so far with Glass has been awesome. Having that much information that readily accessible is a wondrous thing, and for someone who loves photography, having a camera strapped to your head and always ready to go is a huge boon, to boot. New apps such as IFTTT, Vodo, and Weather Alert continue to make Glass a more useful and well-rounded product by the day, and this is only the beginning. I can’t wait to see the kind of wild ideas devs are bound to implement as they become more familiar with the device.
Much of the media would have you believe that the general public simply is not ready to accept the coming era of wearable computing. With the announcement of Android Wear and a slew of devices likely to be released this year that finally begin to live up to the promise of what wearables can be (including a long-rumored retail release for Glass), I think we are going to see those nay-sayers proven very wrong. If my own experiences are any indication, when those devices come, they will be greeted by a public ready and waiting with open arms.