My First Subway Ride With Google Glass

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 04/23/2014

I did my first subway ride wearing Google Glass beginning to end coming home from work yesterday and am sitting on the subway right now tapping this article out on my iPhone. There are no stares. That’s good. I think I underestimated how natural the new Glass frames actually look in not calling attention to themselves, and how ready New Yorkers are to not see things. I admit it: I am tempted to snap wink-pictures, but as I learned yesterday with my work-area neighbor, Juan Charvet, the wink is a very obvious and indeed suggestive way to take a pic. It’s not clandestine at all! I assured Juan I only like him as a friend—point being, Google’s new blink eye detection photos are no more clandestine than using the hardware button or looking up then saying “Okay Glass, take a picture”. Given how unobtrusive and forgettable it is on your face sitting here typing this out one-handed on my iPhone, I have to say I could see Glass fading into the background of life.

Juan CharvetThe biggest thing I’m doing with Glass right now is just letting my eyes adjust to the new frames. It’s my same prescription as my last pair of glasses, but the frames are slightly wrap-around like sports sunglasses and it takes some time for the eyes to adjust. So my challenge now is simply to keep these things on for awhile and acclimate—fighting off any possible headache without causing too much strain. This is a settling-in period that anyone with prescription glasses knows about moving from one style frame to another—especially where the curvature around your face changes as with sports glasses. But the human body is adaptable, and before long it feels just as comfortable as the old pair. I have to get to that point now with Glass.

Before leaving for the office this morning, Adi my three-year-old daughter tried on my glasses this morning and was immediately disappointed she couldn’t see through my very strong prescription. I told her that Daddy was very lucky to have an early pair before they really come out and as soon as they do, we will have a pair in the house she can play with, and I’ll teach her how to take wink-pics. She impressed me with her predictive capabilities saying: “When I’m seven?” I told her maybe even before then. But she’s spot-on with a 4-year time period for cost reduction and platform refinement. I think she’s going to be a better futurist than me.

So what’s on the agenda for today? Glass is after all about better storytelling for me. It’s the conscience floating over my shoulder making sure I’m behaving properly—from a self-discipline perspective—not a scary government perspective… yet. Well, today it will be about setting the process in motion to actually do some meaningful development work on this thing. It will hardly have been worth shelling out the cash for its very-late Explorer edition plus the prescription lenses if I don’t do something interesting and improving-of my life with them. And it’s a fairly big challenge because I’m determined to do it with the GDK as opposed to the easier but more limited approach Google made available: the Mirror API.

I had early access to first-edition Google Glass thanks to co-worker Layne Harris who thought ahead enough to Glass for 360i. I work for the marketing company that helped Oreo tweet: “You can still dunk in the dark” during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout, and I believe Google is interested in doing things with innovative marketing companies. So I had my hands on Glass for a short while and was tasked with doing something that would be interesting to clients. Urgent personal matters however interceded, along with a touch of not quite being ready for how radically different of a development environment Glass was and how limited the Mirror API was in how it required you to go through the Google App Engine (GAE). So, it’s not one strange and different development platform you had to get used to. It was two! And that’s not the sort of thing you can do when personal crisis hits and you’re under deadlines. I stepped down from the Glass project with a slight feeling of sour grapes because I saw (and fell in love with) the huge potential of this new platform.

This April 15th one-day event was made for me. Sure, it’s likely that the eventual consumer release of Google Glass—maybe still this year—is going to be cheaper and better than the Explorer editions—and even with Explorer program, that makes me late to the game. But the prescription glass frames only just became available, and really if I were to walk the walk and embrace the daily use of these things, I couldn’t really do it before the prescription frames were released (unless I hacked it together, which I didn’t). So the trick now is to carve out the time and the place to actually do some real development work.

I’m actually taking my home laptop into work to set it up with the Glass development kit (GDK) because that’s the sort of discretionary time I don’t really get at home. I’m a bit bummed that I’m going to have to take up a new integrated development environment (IDE) for Glass. I’ve managed to avoid Microsoft Visual Studio and Apple Xcode over the years—detecting and rejecting vendor and ecosystem lock-in, preferring the vim text editor instead. In order to make things go smoothly and have a positive initial experience, the Java-based Eclipse IDE is something I’m not going to be able to avoid.

Right on the tail of talking about publishing fewer and better articles on the net, I’m pushing out more frequent public daily journal entries. So be it. The overall body of works on my site is the mouth of the idea capture and processing funnel. And that’s what it’s really all about. A better process for idea capture and refinement, working it seamlessly into an otherwise action-packed busy day with conflicting priorities.