Wearing Google Glass in public provokes odd responses: sidelong stares, whispers. But you also make a lot of new friends who want to know: “Is it worth it?” Especially since Google has announced a limited number will be up for grabs to anyone with $1,500 to spend, people are wondering if they’ll make the investment.
The No. 2 question people ask — “What does it do?” — is much easier to answer. Since getting my set March 25, I’ve worn it every day. Not just to get my money’s worth, but so I can figure out how to integrate it into my day to day routine in ways that might not be obvious. In no particular order, this is what I do with Glass:
- Answer/make phone calls
- Hangout with people
- Find directions (walking/driving)
- Take pictures (by winking!)
- Record short videos (mostly of my daughter)
- Have news stories read to me (reading them is kind of a drag)
- Check the weather
- Read brief emails (also kind of a drag)
- Send tweets (voice recognition makes captions tricky, however)
- Share photos with Facebook friends
- Share photos/thoughts with G+ circles
- Dictate notes when I get an idea and send them to Evernote
- Play silly games while I’m waiting in line
- Listen to music (and wish most of it was on Google Play instead of iTunes)
- Work out
Ok, so I haven’t quite made it past workout No. 1, but I have big aspirations. I’m also really looking forward to using the golf apps that help you read the lie before you putt and correct your swing when you drive. As a full-time worker and mother of a toddler, rounds of golf are as rare as spa trips or vacations (not to mention workout time). But I’ll get there. It feels as if I have a lot of exploring left to do with the apps I’ve downloaded but can’t use every day, and that’s exciting.
My biggest fear was that Glass would drive a wedge between me and my staunchly pro flip-phone husband. He doesn’t understand why my job (which includes community management) requires I spend so much time in “tiny town,” glued to my mobile. Although I am literally tethered to my phone through the Bluetooth headset, I feel Glass has actually liberated me from my phone. When I take a picture of my daughter or decide to film 10 seconds on a swing set, the point of view is mine, not my hands, which are free to hold, hug, clap and grasp. As a sometime travel writer, that’s tremendously exciting.
When people stop to ask me about Google Glass, the first thing I do is let them try mine on. Just saying “OK glass” and seeing the options of what they can do on the menu screen appear seems to satisfy most. It’s rare a person will do more than open an app. Most people prefer I scroll through the menu for them to take a picture or record a video and then they’re done. (Incidentally, I have a lot of pictures of me grinning like an idiot taken by strangers). Only a couple of people have actually flipped through the options to play around.
And that seems to be typical of Google Explorers, too. Some of my friends in the program, who were among the first invited, have given up wearing their Glass. It just didn’t do enough for them, they said. Others, like the helpful customer service Explorer I spoke with last week, guiltily confess they use theirs just to take pictures.
Co-existing with the Explorers is the Developers community. In it, people are designing Glass apps to assist doctors in surgery and help firefighters locate people within burning buildings. It’s thrilling to think of the as-yet-unknown applications for Glass that will help people work and live. Of course, not every app can save the world, but there are lots of practical apps in development Explorers can side-load and test. It may seem prosaic, but as someone who ends up in the grocery store every day, I’m anxiously waiting for the shopping list app to become available. It’s a tool I know I’ll use all the time, which is what my Glass are shaping up to be.
So when people ask, “Is it worth it?” I think the answer depends on how they’ll use Glass. If all you’re going to do is take pictures, than no. You can get a much better camera for $1,500 — one that zooms, has filters and can post to social media without getting you banned from San Francisco pubs.
But if you are truly interested in being an Explorer in the purest sense of the word, then yes, my answer is it absolutely is worth it. Every day I find some new way in which Glass has made my life easier. And learn about something in development that will make someone else’s life better.