GoogleTechnologyBecoming a Google Glass Explorer

July 7, 2013by Reva McPollom0

I’ve had Glass for about two weeks now and had the opportunity to capture some happenings around the city. For the most part, everything will be published to my Google+ profile, so be sure to follow me there and on Twitter.


In February of this year Google announced the #ifihadglass competition as a means to chose people who would get to purchase Glass before it is available on the market. So when people see me with Glass it comes as no surprise that they want to know what I submitted. Here’s a few of my #ifihadglass tweets:

#ifihadglass I could finally help tourists when they ask me for directions in Manhattan.

#ifihadglass I’d take pictures of stranger’s shoes on the subway and write fictional short stories about them.#subwayshoestories

#ifihadglass I would explore its impact on the natural search/SEO paradigm and the opportunities it creates for digital marketers.

#ifihadglass I would take the most awesome selfies… like ever.

The notification.

First of all, I was really late because I’m not as active on Twitter as I need to be. A close friend mentioned to me that someone they worked with had Glass and that reminded me of the competition. A few days later I logged onto Twitter and wouldn’t you know it, there was a mention by Project Glass. Concerned that I had missed my chance, I immediately replied. A few short hours later I received a direct message from Project Glass with a link to buy Glass. I was stoked.

project glass notification

The cost of the Explorer Edition of Glass came to $1633.13, that’s $1,500 + a little extra for the appointment. Not exactly cheap, but since I haven’t been this excited about a new technology since… well, ever, I felt it was worth it. I never hopped on the iPhone bandwagon, the last smartphone I owned was a myTouch 3G. But comparing an iPhone to Glass is a phallacy. Glass is on a whole other level and in truth the opportunity to be a Glass Explorer (and get a head start as a Glass developer) felt like an honor.

After I made my purchase I was able to set an appointment to pick up the device for the following week. Project Glass also started following me on Twitter, and has since retweeted me, which I think is a pretty cool bonus to being a #GlassExplorer.

Pick up day.

Project Glass is stationed at Chelsea Market in the swanky Meatpacking District in Manhattan. When I arrived I signed in and then went up to the 8th floor. I was given a badge and immediately assigned to guide. My guide spent about an hour and a half with me. She helped me select my Glass. In terms of color, I decided on the shale. Part of me was drawn to the tangerine from the photos, but it was a much stronger color in person. I asked my guide what color had been selected most and she said it had been pretty evenly split though she expected most New Yorkers to opt for charcoal.


google glass


She then proceeded to walk me through the configuration and how to operate Glass, which is basically through voice operations and gestures along the thick part of the glass on its right side. Another guide offered me my choice of beverage; I chose water, and of course champagne. If you have a smartphone with you – as you should – your guide will also help you tether it to Glass and walk through all the other configuration stuff so you can immediately start playing around, contacting people and sharing content. Since I don’t have a smartphone, we connected to the Internet there and did these things.

Glass limitations.

I was overall impressed with the setup and my host. But there are some immediate shortcomings to Glass, like the fact that there’s no zoom ability, gut I discovered a workaround pretty quickly.

Another limitation was at the time the inability to visit actual websites on Glass. To me, that seemed logical. Why would I want to visit a website on Glass? Isn’t that what cards and the knowledge graph are for? I mean, the whole concept of Glass makes the web-browser seem antiquated. The affordances of Glass demand a new approach to data where digital knowledge and real-world exploration coexist seamlessly and unobtrusively; the browser doesn’t meet that expectation, at least not to me. But it’s a moot point as a week later they pushed the XE7 update out and now I can browse websites on Glass, if I want to, which I don’t really.

Without a smartphone there are additional limitations like lack of SMS and turn-by-turn navigation. The SMS bit has not been an issue for me; although I don’t have a cell phone I ported my cell number to Google voice more than a year ago so I receive texts via email. I’m able to send and reply to texts with my voice just as I imagine any other Glass user with a smartphone would.

My workaround for the turn-by-turn navigation is a bit different. I actually still have my old myTouch 3G. In addition I have a mobile hotspot powered by AT&T. Since my phone runs on Android I have a Google Navigation App that’s probably better than what I could get on Glass as last I checked Glass navigation provides walking directions only, whereas my smartphone can give me walking and driving directions.

My impression so far.

Someone asked me the other day if people stare and point when I wear Glass. The answer is no. So far my experiences have been 100% positive. People who don’t know what it is say things like “cool glasses” and people who do know what it is are super excited to talk to talk about it, but mainly just ask “so, how do you like it?” The answer is very much. Whereas a smartphone has always felt to me like a device that prevents people from being present, Glass is just the opposite. I feel more present and engaged when I’m wearing Glass. People are genuinely excited about the technology and I’m capturing great moments while being present in them. Now that’s disruptive!

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