Being a member of the original batch of Explorers I have now had my Glass since May 15th earlier this year. Since then it has become an extension of me much the way smartphones and other similar devices have become for the general populace. In fact the only times I have left my house for more than a few minutes have been when going on dates and once when I did not have it in my possession(more on that in a bit). Because of this I have met many interesting people, seen a plethora of reactions, and been exposed the various side effects that come with making a prototype device a part of everyday life. Below I would like to share the pros and cons I have run into as a Glass Explorer.
A Prototype Device
If you have read a review of Glass before then you most likely that it is a relatively polished device. So far it has exceeded my expectations when it comes to usability, speed, and consistency. I even find myself many days forgetting a bit that it is in fact a prototype device and not the finalized version. Other days though, not so much. Glass like any device does have its problems and there are times that it reminds me quite harshly that it has a good distance to go still before it can truly be a consumer device.
The two smallest issues I have run into would definitely be the speaker and the battery. The speaker looks like a button and is of the bone conduction variety. It works wonderfully for chimes and notifications, but when I need it to read words to me it does not do as well as one could hope. I almost always cup my ear if I need to hear what it is saying(like during a phone call). I feel this is due to it being positioned behind the ear instead of in front of it, which is how most other bone conduction headsets I have seen are. The battery life on the other hand changes from day-to-day. Sometimes I am able to get a full day out of it with normal use without issue, but if I am recording video or taking pictures regularly its battery runs out of energy rapidly.
Both of those are small problems with easy enough solutions fortunately. The speaker just requires a cupped ear and the battery life just requires that I bring an external battery to charge it with. There has been one larger problem that I have experienced a couple of times however.
Glass does not seem to handle sweat and heat combined very well. I live in Arizona so this has been a bit of a recurring issue. The first time it eventually killed my Glass(I am on my second pair) it seems. Now I am 85% sure there were some other problems going on that I could not see, but there still is that small chance that it was just due to the heat and the sweat. With this particular experience I was preparing to drive to California in the middle of July and so I had gone in and out of my house multiple times to load my car. This exposed Glass to both conditions. It was not long and it started registering false touch events and would for lack of better words, freak out. During the drive to California it stayed in the pretty much same condition and so was not very usable. Upon arriving however the screen just stopped working. A day or so after that the entire device failed. This caused me to go without Glass as mentioned earlier for a small time.
Thankfully Glass Support is amazing. I had contacted them a few times while I was in California since my Glass was not working and they arranged for me to get it replaced free of charge. By the time I got back home there was a box already there waiting for me that I was to use to send them my current device. A few days after sending it to them I received my second(and current) pair of Glass.
I have experienced something similar with this device once as well when I was going to a convention. Once again the problem seemed to been caused heat and sweat. Thankfully after powering it down and taking it off my head for a while it resumed functioning as it usually does.
Thankfully I have not had another similar problem since then.
Glass in Public
Wearing Glass in public has been an interesting experience(in a good way) to say the least. I am very much an extrovert, and being such I have never had a problem with social interaction and randomly walking up to strangers to converse with them. What I have never really been used to though is people approaching me regularly to talk to me, typically that just does not seem to happen. At least that was how it was before owning Glass. Since Glass it has become difficult to go out in public for any length of time without it striking up at least one conversation. For me this is not a bad thing though, there are not many things I enjoy more than talking about technology with someone who is genuinely interested.
Of course with a device that has been so controversial in the media as Glass has you get mixed reactions. Personally I have not experienced anybody coming up to me and having a negative reaction to it but I do know someone who was spit on earlier this month because of it so those reactions definitely exist. I have noticed however odd stares occasionally. These are sometimes people who seem to be trying to figure out what the odd pair of lens-less glasses on my face are but typically seem to be people who recognize it(or at least what it could be) and then have one of two reactions. The first and more pleasant of the two are people who recognize it as new technology and are debating with themselves on whether they should talk to me or not. These people I don’t acknowledge too much except for giving them an encouraging smile. The other are the people who recognize it as a camera that might be taking pictures/videos of them. Seeing that is not a very positive thought they tend to just scowl at me a bit and continue to stare at me occasionally. I tend to try to ignore these people as best I can.
You might be wondering why I don’t talk to these people about it. My policy tends to stand as if they don’t say anything to me about it, I don’t mention it to them. It comes down to it that any interaction could be taken the wrong way. They might not actually be focusing on me and if they are then that does not mean they are necessarily open to conversing with a stranger that has a camera on their face.
The people who do come up and ask about it however, I offer hands on demos to(which they usually accept) and converse with casually about the device. There are three main reasons why I always offer for them to actually use it rather than just show them a screencast of how it works despite the fact that it normally extends the time the demo takes. The first is that there really is no true way to experience Glass without actually wearing it. It just simply is a device that it is hard if not impossible to know how it works until you actually put it on and mess around with it. My second reason is that as Glass Explorer I see it as my responsibility in a way to spread the device to as many people as possible. I feel that spreading the experience of Glass to many will help ensure the success of it as a device when made commercially available and that it could also help eliminate the stigmas many people have associated with Glass due to misunderstanding how it works. The third reason is simply that I love seeing how different people react to it.
There are some people who are relatively calm when they try it out but the majority get excited, extremely excited even. I have seen older and stoic business professionals transform from their typical serious selves into a person that has an immense amount of joy sparkling in their eyes and a jaw dropped in awe. I have heard various people quickly yell out in excitement and shock. I have even had people jump up and down unable to contain themselves while they are about to put it on and then only calm down for a short enough period of time to take a quick selfie. I have given demos both to people who are alone and large mobs of people. There is almost always one group of similarities. A charge of excitement in the air that you can feel as they wait to put on their face. An immense sense of anticipation as they rest it on their face before I turn the screen. And then finally the person wearing it widens their eyes as the screen just appears in the air in front of them.
Moments like these have amazed me and I would not trade the time spent during them for anything.
The Distraction of Glass
I will start by saying that wearing Glass has never been a distraction for me. If anything it has allowed me to be less distracted when in public since I can quickly see what is going on and then move on with my life instead of having to spend the extra time pulling out my phone. While driving I wear and use it for directions and communication. It was especially useful near the end of summer when I was driving back home from California since it gave me the ability to keep people updated on my whereabouts. When it comes to how distracting it is to use I would put it at a lower level than changing the volume or station of my radio while driving. All of that said, there is still one huge distraction that comes with wearing Glass; people.
There are constantly people who come to ask about it and I am typically inclined to give them a demo. This is not a bad thing but it does take up time and cause a distraction. Depending on the setting where it is taking place what once was one person curious about it can quickly change to 10 or more. For this reason I only wear Glass while driving if I am going out on a date. It brings too much outside attention to a moment that would be better spent without it. This also sometimes puts my friends in an odd place since when I go out with them I usually wear it. If I notice it is starting to bother my friends though then I politely excuse myself.
I lost count a long time ago but by now I have given close to if not more than 1000 people Glass demos where they actually get to use the device. Due to this large number I have seen some amazing reactions that have really left a lasting imprint on my memory. Since the number is so large though I can only talk about a few, so I will try to narrow it down to three.
The most adorable one has been by far when I gave demos to my girlfriend’s younger siblings last time I was in California and about to head back home. Her youngest sister I actually managed to capture a picture of after she first put it on. At first she was a little reluctant to put it on her face but once she did she became overjoyed and started trying to grab the screen that was hovering in front of her. To this day whenever she hears me on the phone she asks if I can come back so that she can try them on again.
The most surprising demo occurred when I had to take my Macbook Pro to the Apple Store again to see if they could do anything to try to fix it. While waiting I had a group of around five Apple employees that decided to surround me to try it out. I gave each one a demo and then a couple of them surprised me again by asking if I could take their picture but to make sure that the Apple logos on their shirts were not visible. I happily did so. I guess it just goes to show that this is a device that many people are getting excited about, even those that are not really supposed to.
The group of demos that showed me the most where Glass could go happened when I was helping out at my old high school’s marching band competition. There was a group of about 15 people who appeared to vary in age from 10-18 years old. The youngest of them was the person that notice Glass and asked about it so he was the first to try them out. I showed him how to use it just like I had so many other people before him and after he was done messing with them I just had him pass it to the next person and so on so forth. I only had to show him how to use it, he then showed the next person in line how it worked. After that, everybody knew what to do with it and needed no instruction whatsoever. Never have I seen a device taught, and more importantly, learned so quickly and with such ease.
And so in a nutshell, that has been my experience with Glass. Some negative and less than satisfactory moments here and there along a multitude of some of the most positive experiences I have had this year. Overall the entire combination of them make me have just one thought.
I cannot wait to see where Glass goes next. The future is now.
Latest posts by Nathan Buth (see all)
- From Concept to Prototype: Project Ara - February 26, 2014
- Google wants to Map out Your World with Project Tango - February 21, 2014
- Fleksy Update 1.2.3: Emojis and Personalization - February 13, 2014