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By Doug Winnie | Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Living with Google Glass

Doug Winnie - Living with Google Glass

Living in San Francisco, you see people wearing Google Glass often: at coffee shops, at restaurants, on trains. The Glass Explorer program, a group of people invited by Google to purchase Glass before its official release, has been expanding over time. As a result, thousands of Explorers are now using Google Glass and informing Google on how to improve it.

I’m part of the program myself, having received my Glass invitation in December. So I plunked down my $1,500 and went to the Google Glass office in San Francisco to pick it up. The “fitting,” as they called it, took place in a cavernous and sparse office building near the Embarcadero with sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. A Glass-wearing representative helped me through the setup process then showed me how to connect it to my phone. Afterwards, I was turned loose to wander the streets of San Francisco with my new piece of fancy eyewear.

But instead—I put it away.

In San Francisco, Google Glass has become a status symbol of the technology elite. Young urban Internet professionals that flaunt Glass in public have, often justly, been referred to as “Glassholes.” When you see people wearing their Glass, it’s the first thing you notice about them; it can feel like a barrier that makes the nonwearers around them uncomfortable.

As a result, there’s been a backlash to Glass, at least here in the Bay Area. It’s even been banned in certain places including restaurants, nightclubs, and cinemas. That’s why I was hesitant to wear mine; I want people to interact with me, not the technology.

But when I did finally put it on, I discovered that Google Glass is impressive technology with some real practical uses, many of which I explore in my lynda.com course Introducing Google Glass. I enjoy having information available to me in the Glass screen while I look at the world around me—instead of always having to look down at my phone. Being able to share whatever’s in front of me instantly as a photo or video is a remarkable feature; instead of watching through my smartphone as I take a picture, I can see the subject with my own eyes.

But just as I put my cell phone away sometimes for face-to-face communication, I only wear my Glass occasionally. I hope that as the technology gets more sophisticated and reduces the visual barriers between the wearer and the observer, I’ll feel much more comfortable wearing it throughout the day.

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