It’s not every day you get the chance to try on one of the most buzzed-about consumer technology advances in recent memory, so I jumped at the chance to try out Google Glass during a recent visit with Thermopylae Sciences and Technology.
Thermopylae, a defense contractor based in Arlington, Virginia, acquired the glasses through the Google Glass Foundry and Explorer programs and now is experimenting with how wearable computers could integrate with its current and future products. (Read more in "Google Glass Sharpens View of Wearable Computer Future.")
Having never seen or worn Google Glass, I anticipated an augmented-reality experience—staring through two glass lenses and seeing information projected over my view of the world. The reality of Google Glass is much different. The frames hook over your ears and rest on your nose like traditional glasses, but the viewing piece is raised to the right. When you stare straight ahead, you have an unobstructed view as you normally would. To actually see the Google Glass “screen,” you have to consciously look up and to the right.
The glasses are extremely light, and it’s easy to see how you could wear a pair for a prolonged period of time. John-Isaac Clark, chief innovation officer of Thermopylae, wears a pair all day and says he stopped noticing the glasses after about an hour, just like you might with regular glasses. But while you may not feel the glasses on your face, others will certainly take notice. Clark sums it up nicely: “It looks stupid.” Not my finest fashion hour.
Do I see a future where everyone wears a head-mounted device at all times? It’s hard to picture, but Clark makes a good point. “I remember a time when I thought no one would ever run around with something stuck in their ear constantly whether or not they were using it, and today, you still see a plethora of people with Bluetooth devices do the same thing. That’s a form of wearable computing, we just don’t think of it like that.”
We live in a culture of looking down at our devices. It would be refreshing to have people finally look up, but would someone truly be engaged with text messages, alerts and information popping into their peripheral vision? Would you buy a pair? Let us know what you think in the comments below.