How Google Glass led to my latest business venture

I felt the Lewis Carroll “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There” reference was appropriate. I may not have had Glass as long as many, becoming an Explorer in September, but my day-to-day life hasn’t been the same since that day I journeyed “Through the Looking-Glass.”

I was at Google I/O that fateful day as thousands of attendees lined up to get first dibs on this crazy new device. We’d just seen jump out of a plane, land on a roof, scale a build… with this incredible piece of tech, all while streaming video for us to enjoy a first person view. Unfortunately at the time Glass was a bit out of my budget, and as a result I was not in the early round of explorers.

My good friend and (now business partner) Matt Abdou was there as well and had purchased Glass. I happened to be visiting when he went to pick Glass up at the Google campus in Mountain View, so I tagged along as his guest.

That day changed both of our lives.

... and Winkfeed was born

While walking around Google with his “Glass Guide” discussing all the cool things it could do, not much compared to now, taking turns playing around with the device, He mentioned how nice it would be to have an RSS feed sent to Glass. I blurted out “Yeah! You could call it Winkfeed! Because, you know, it’s only over one eye, and maybe someday we’ll be able to provide some control with eye gestures!” The guide flipped out over the idea, we all loved the name, and Matt thought he could build it with the fledgling Mirror API.

A few minutes with google glass barely scratches the surface of its potential impact on your life.

Fast forward to September. Matt has built an early proof of concept for Winkfeed , we’ve decided we want to see where we can take it, and we add the incredible designer Asher Simonds to our team to make everything look beautiful. Now Asher and I really need to get our hands on this amazing tech if we are going to try to make a business out of it, so I finally get an invite and purchase Glass.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Glass. I’m not thrilled to hear stories from developers about how controlling Google is being when it comes to software development. It’s a walled garden that makes iOS app publishing look downright one-click. Developers working on Glass right now are actively discouraged from profiting in a direct way, but they are still expected to walk whatever line Google set.It is freakishly night-and-day compared to Android app publishing.

I thought I knew all about Glass, I thought I understood the impact it would have on my life. I’d only worn it for a few minutes but I thought that was enough. I was wrong. I understood the basics but until you wear glass for days or even weeks it’s difficult to fully grasp how substantial an impact it can have on your day-to-day life.

Different reactions to Glass in different parts of the country

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the social aspects of Glass. I think the previous “Through Glass” columns here have covered that well enough. I will say it varies drastically by state or region of the country. When in New York we were constantly stopped and asked about Glass. Normally we all love doing Glass demos, but in New York we were stopped so often and had to spend so long with people that it reached the point of annoyance. Interrupting somebody who is already speaking to another person is rude and people should stop doing it.

The San Francisco Bay Area of California is similar although not quite as bad, likely because Glass seems to be significantly more common out there. In Texas, where I live, things are very different. I like to say Texans are some of the few people who still maintain good manners. We hold doors open for each other, we say please and thank you, excuse me, yes ma'am and no sir. When I wear Glass around locally I get a few odd glances from time to time, and if I am having a conversation with somebody they will ask me about it. I’ve noticed if I break the ice pretty much everyone loves to talk about it. Otherwise nobody says anything and I have never been the recipient of long awkward stares. Most importantly nobody has ever run up to me to ask about Glass while I am in the middle of a conversation with another person.

With Google Glass, you get bite-sized pieces of information — and it's far safer to use in a car than you think.

I wear Glass daily. I’ve stopped using my web-based RSS reader and now consume all of my news directly through Glass using Winkfeed. Or if I save something to read later I’ll use Pocket. I get updates on a schedule I set, and headlines arrive in bundles or individually if no other updates are available. I’ve discovered some awesome things I can do with this. Watching the Android Central Podcast on Glass the other day while I did chores around the house was pretty amazing.

Driving with Glass directions is a fantastic experience, and I think Glass is the safest device for navigation in the car. Should you be texting and reading emails using Glass while driving? Of course not! I don’t think anyone thinks that is actually a good idea. That said, Glass currently has no text input method, so even if you did want to send a response to somebody you have to speak, and you can do so fairly easily. I don’t recommend it, but I believe it’s got to be safer than picking up a phone holding it below the dash and trying to be sneaky and send a text without getting caught.

If people are going to insist on behaving badly and endangering others, don’t punish the technology that allows them to be stupid in the safest way. Especially if there is significant value in that technology saving lives by eliminating other dangers like taking your eye off the road to change a radio station or look at navigation. I suspect there are many people already working on heads up driving displays for Glass. Imagine you don’t have to glance down to view your speed, gas mileage, RPM, or even the direction you are headed!

This is only the beginning ...

I’ll wrap this up with one of my favorite things about glass and one of the features often overlooked. Vignettes! I see so much potential here. We’ve seen people just starting to take advantage of this feature. It’s like adding a caption to your photos. The Holiday Vignette series is a great start but is just the tip of the iceberg. You can take a picture of a delicious dinner with the recipe in the corner of the photo. You can take a photo of your holiday decorations with a big HAPPY HOLIDAYS image image in the top corner.

I even used vignette to show Phil I was watching his pretty face while doing housework. Photos are very personal and the vignette feature allows to make them even more personal or to personalize them for whoever you are sharing the photo with.

Glass still has a lot of growing up to do. I’m betting on it’s success with time and money by starting one of the first companies built around the technology. For mass adoption I think the price needs to come WAY down, $349 would be the sweet spot in my opinion. I think the design is solid but will likely be improved, and battery life needs drastic improvements.

I’m excited for the future of Glass and look forward to being a part of this amazing young ecosystem.

Feel free to ask me anything on Google+. Join the Winkfeed Community if you want to talk about the app, and circle WinkLogic to find out what our future plans are.

And keep exploring.

Aaron Kasten Aaron Kasten

"Aaron Kasten's latest venture is Winklogic, an app development company with a focus on wearable technology.

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