Learning to explore
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.
Ask 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?
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.
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.
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.
"Phil is a recovering print journalist, editor of Android Central, subtitles and street signs."
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