Through Glass: Learning to explore

Through Glass:

Learning to explore

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

Phil Nickinson

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.

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.

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 Nickinson

Phil NickinsonEditor in Chief

"Phil is a recovering print journalist, editor of Android Central, subtitles and street signs."

articles 5857 forum posts 3807

More from our Through Glass series...

articleJan 4, 2014

Through Glass: Relax, this is just the beginning

by Russell Holly

The latest in our continuing series on living with Google Glass. Russell Holly writes for, is a longtime Google Glass wearer, has used Android since before it was cool, and dreams of living in a TARDIS. No, really. Google's giving us the chance to shape the future, for the (not-so) low, low price of $1,500 The smartphone, as we know it right now, is on borrowed time. Take a look at...

articleDec 28,2013

Through Glass: And what Aaron found there ...

by Aaron Kasten

Latest in our series on living with Google Glass. Aaron Kasten is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for bleeding-edge technology. He's the founder of AndroidSWAG and the Big Android BBQ, and his latest venture is Winklogic, an app developer focused on wearables. How Google Glass led to my latest business venture I felt the Lewis Carroll "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There...

articleDec 21, 2013

Through Glass: Breaking the ice

by mikandi

The latest in our continuing series on living with Google Glass. Jen McEwen is the Chief Marketing Officer of (NSFW link). You can also find her on Google+. Google glass is awesome and nerdy and clunky and not all that practical — but it's still bringing us together​ Google Glass is a device of contradictions. It's intended for communication, but it's hard to talk to someone on it...

articleDec 14, 2013

Through Glass: The distraction factor

Jerry Hildenbrand

The latest in our new weekly series about living with Google Glass comes from our own Jerry Hildenbrand, a neckbearded riddle wrapped in a West Virginia enigma.​ Google Glass is no more distracting than your phone, nor is it any less We all know that if you get caught speeding upwards of 20 mph over the speed limit and you're wearing Google Glass, you're going to get at least one ticket. And...

articleDec 7, 2 013

Through Glass: Over the pond with Paul O'Brien of MoDaCo

by paulobrien

Third in our continuing series on living with Google Glass. Paul O'Brien is the founder of the UK-based, a longtime smartphone hacker and developer and an all-around good guy to know. To date, Google has only made Glass available to Explorers in the United States. I'm not entirely sure why that is, it might be to do with certification, logistics, or perhaps the original idea of...

articleNov 30, 2013

Through Glass: Feeling comfortable living in the future

by Andrew Martonik

Second in our new weekly series about living with Google Glass.​ 'Are those the Google Glasses things?' If you buy Google Glass, get ready to field that question. Every day. I'm not sure what's more surprising at this point — the number of people who can properly identify Google Glass, or the number of people who have no problem asking me to confirm their suspicion. Interestingly, a decent...

Phil Nickinson