First in our new series of weekly columns on how we're living with Google Glass.

I feel like I should be exploring something, right? That's the whole point of this Google Glass "Explorers" program. Get out into the world and do amazing things with this $1,500 space-age contraption strapped to my face. Instead, I can count on one hand the number of times I've dared to venture out of my house wearing Glass.

Phil Nickinson and Google GlassAsk anyone who has Google Glass — or just be in the same room with anyone who's got Glass — and you quickly realize that these things attract attention. Curious onlookers, excited nerds, skeptics who worry that we're recording their every move. (Hint: We're not. You're not that exciting.) They all want to know what it really does. Try it for themselves. What's it like?

That's a good thing. In that respect, Glass is already a success — getting folks to talk about the technology, good or bad. But you've got to admit that it can become a bit of an annoyance. You don't always want to play the evangelist. Doesn't Google have people for that? Can't they talk to everyone and tell people what it's like to wear Glass? Can't I just be at this party? Or go to the store? Or hang at the park? No. When you wear Glass, you inadvertently become a de facto evangelist for Glass. You don't get a day off, unless you take Glass off.

Or maybe I'm just a bad Explorer?

I can count the number of times I've worn Glass in public on just five fingers. That will change, I'm sure. But I've started slowly.

Mia and Mom

The first was a quick bike trip with the wife and kids. Why not, right? What could go wrong with placing a small, floating screen right in front of my right orbit as balance on two wheels with my 3-year-old daughter strapped on for good measure. No danger there. (Actually, it went fine.)

But I couldn't help but wonder what the folks driving their cars thought about this crazy dad. Or the other parents at the park we stopped at. "Why is he playing with that thing and not his kids?" (Although that last one is less of an issue when you consider all the parents staring down at their phones while the children play.)

The second and third times was lunch with my parents and grandparents, but in the safety of the latter's home. I wanted them to see this new toy. Yes, I wanted to evangelize a bit. But in a controlled environment. Not unexpectedly, it was my mother and my 80-something grandfather who seemed to geek out the most.


What are you wearing?

After lunch, the wife and I took our daughters downtown to the annual Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival. This would be the first real test — albeit one with the detachable sunglasses firmly in place — the better to blend in, I figured. We met up with a friend, though, who immediately wanted to know what I had on my face. (There's no fooling those close to you.) Ran into a few other folks we knew, who also asked.

OK, so not so inconspicuous with the sunglasses attached.


The fourth time was to pick up Kid No. 1 after school. I was waiting in the pick-up line this past week, trying to watch a video I'd had to put aside to do my dadly duty. That proved to not be so easy. But then I see Mia walking to the car. She checks to make sure it's me (good girl), then opens the door and turns to a friend.

"Hey, Summer! My dad's got those ... those glasses!"

You can always count on your kids to be excited when you're trying to play it cool around the soccer moms.

The fifth time was to my 7-year-old daughter's soccer practice. I'd been at a birthday party for one of the girls when I was testing the Samsung Galaxy Gear a month or so earlier. And they all thought having a camera on a watch was damn near as cool as American Girl dolls. "Wait tlll you see what I bring this week," I told them after one asked if I still had that watch.

A gaggle of young girls is tough enough to wrangle at a normal soccer practice. Never mind the last one of the season. (And never mind that we were having our first real cold snap of the year right then.) Toss Robot Dad into the mix, and any sense of control goes out the window. But whatever. It was the their last practice. And I'm not the coach, anyway. 

OK, maybe I'm not that bad of an Explorer after all. Maybe you don't have to wear these things every waking minute. Maybe the key to being an Explorer is in the act of exploring. Or maybe I'll see the light and become a cyborg. I dunno.

I'm late to the Google Glass party, but it's still a pretty exclusive crowd. And it's a diverse, interesting crowd. Maybe I'll get more comfortable wearing Glass in public. Maybe it'll take off. Maybe it won't. Maybe society's just not ready for screens and cameras attached to faces. Or maybe we'll accept it just as easily as we accepted having screens and cameras and the full power of the Internet in our pants pocket.

But readily apparent is how great is the term that Google chose to brand us all with. 


More from our Through Glass series ...

There are 33 comments

c1971ace says:

These things look really cool and personally id love to be an "Explorer" but unfortunately funds dont allow for me to.

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ggr says:

I thought they were very cool until I got them. It does not have many capabilities. The only things it does is take picture and video. The vocabulary is very limited and there is bunch of apps which are almost useless for day to day life.

One thing I really liked was the driving directions.

But prolonged wear and looking into the glass gives me double vision in my right eye.

I would give it 1 more year of intense development and some design changes, before it can be useful for normal folks like me. I do not do sky diving or anything dangerous.

I will be returning it soon.

Slick! "I gotta get me one of these!"

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twolastnames says:

I wonder how many people you don't know actually notice, compared to how many you think notice you. Kind of like being in a part of town your demographic does not match. You think everyone is watching, but they really don't give a crap.


Yeah, I agree that part of it is in my head.

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scottyhifi says:

If someone walked into my kids school to watch a holiday show wearing robotic looking glasses I think a lot of people would be very curious.

efyoiphone says:

If they were really interested in knowing what the general public thinks they would charge 500 for the explorer program. We're in a damn recession, Google!

brendilon says:

Wall Street and corporate profits would disagree on the recession.

Glass costs $1500 because that's what it costs, not because Google is trying to make a pile of money off of them. That comes later.

Winter is coming. She's quite the screamer.

The world is not as it seems....

my finger swiped this on the android central beta app

jtcromer says:

It certainly is pretty cool. And has an unlimited number of expandable uses I'm sure as it gains momentum.

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kiddySG says:

You're a Glasshole if you buy it for that price.

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sepffuzzball says:

Phil, just wait until you go to a convention...especially if it's -not- primarily a tech-based convention!

I've been to a couple (one for work, one for play) and both times I've been effectively swarmed by people asking about it and wanting demos and the like! I've obliged most of the time, but being a techie by nature it's somewhat exhausting since I'm not a naturally gregarious type (though I feel I can pull it off when I try!).

I wear mine most of the time when I go out, though I do generally remove them if I'm in front of a computer (since I normally wear Gunnars for eye strain), so maybe I'm just used to people asking about it!

alexlam24 says:

Too bad I can't even afford one...

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Justin Stepp says:

So that's not your Audi R8 then?

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vansmack says:

The video of your kid scoring that goal is totally worth being a glasshole.

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Seriously! What a shot.

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Rigelian says:

I've had mine for a couple of weeks. I'm just now getting comfortable wearing them outdoors. So far the response has been pretty positive. People ask politely about them and ask how I like them. So far no observable negative reaction, however, I'm pretty polite about them.

BB_Bmore says:

Very nice Phil. I thoroughly enjoyed this, thank you.

Sent from my Motorola side view pager 4-5683-968

leebosay says:

I guess I'm missing something. Almost every example the writer gave of people taking notice of his "glasses" was prefaced by someone pointing them out first. If you feel self concious about wearing them, try keeping your mouth shut. It's not like you're wearing diving goggles on the street. I suspect you'll find the average person isn't that intesested.

kelayz says:

I think you care too much bud.

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rlhammon says:

I agree Phil. I've had mine since July, and it's been less than 10 times out in public. Partly becasue, in my head, I think everyone is focusing on them and then because I don't have a *reason* to have them on.

Riding the bus in San Fran (after picking them up) nobody seemed to care. A few looks, a turn to the person next to them and a look back at me... but that was it. When not in tech cities, they attract attention. I'd like to use them more, but with less attention.

Now that the GDK is coming, I'm hoping I can get to work on what I wanted to use them for.

vpblaze says:

Cool write up! Thanks for sharing.
I am also looking forward to seeing where the Google glass is going to take us!
Should be yet another interesting year in 2014.

Posted via Android Central App on my Note 2!

hichris123 says:

Phil, as an Explorer, I'd say that part of our job is to educate the public on Glass. People are interested in Glass, I'd equate it to the Pebble. Not many have seen it before, but at least with Shale it isn't so noticable. However, you can just tell people that it's basically a smartphone, and if you feel like it give a quick demo.

Agree. I get a lot of questions about Pebble, too. But it's not as conspicuous as Glass.

droidhead_1 says:

The amount of activity on this article shows the public doesn't need or care about Glass!

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MrBucket85 says:

I think we're going to find many more uses for Glass than anyone could imagine at the moment. Most of them won't be readily apparent and I'm excited to see what uses developers come up with by the time some version of Glass makes its way into the hands of the general public. We use our smartphones in ways we never would have thought of 10 years ago and they aren't even that novel of a concept (shrink down a computer to pocket size and add a telephone).

...but part of me just really wants someone to make a Dragon Ball scouter app.

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ChuckG73 says:

I have worn mine everywhere. What I am enjoying most is sharing them with everyone.

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K White1 says:

After reading this, I'll be sure to harass the Explorer on campus the next time I see him. Normally, I wouldn't bother a stranger, but I'm very curious about Glass.

Posted via Android Central App, HTC One

castanocj869 says:

I am very excited for you my friend. that's awesome you received a pair lol, I'm somewhat jealous.. You're good at your job. Please, just please, continue to use the product like it is intended! lol, On your face, all the time, sending them feedback, constantly. I've signed up to be an explorer and would be honored to pay to test the future. You are lucky!!! Do right by daddy goog!!!

a2Squard says:

I too, like some of the others wear it everywhere: work, restaurants, shopping, driving (except the bathroom #LiveStreaming) - but a lot of people are very curious about it. Yes, you're going to get the paranoid people that think it's recording constantly (well said Phil!). It's fun to give demos to curious people, I've yet to have anyone be even slightly rude when I'm wearing Tangerine Glass, but I love the attention and Glass will only get better as time goes on. Despite what the naysayers think about Glass being a failure or dead on arrival, a LOT of people WANT this device...

Jellyfrog says:

I wish I could afford Glass honestly, but alas I'm a poor student!

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spock123 says:

I can afford it - I want it - but alas, I'm not american :(