What It’s Like to Use Google Glass: 3 Explorers Share Their Experience

August 12, 2013

11:00 am

This February, Google announced that a special group of “Explorers” would be selected to test drive the company’s hottest new product, Google Glass.

The gadget, which handles many smartphone functions like taking photo and video, mapping, and displaying text messages, cost these early adopters a cool $1,500.

Now, thousands of Explorers have integrated Glass into their daily lives. They’ve taken it in the shower, on the basketball court, and on a camping trip in a wheelchair.

We caught up with three Explorers to find out what it’s like to have Google Glass.

Chris Barrett

Google Glass - Chris Barrett

Bio: Barrett is the founder of PRserve.

Tech Cocktail: How do you use Google Glass in your daily life? 

Chris Barrett: My daily use of Google Glass comes with what happens when I turn it on first thing every morning. I installed the app Google Now, which sends me the latest sports scores for the teams I follow and the weather report for the day. The New York Times sends me brief news briefs, and I see what my friends posted on Path when I was sleeping. When I get to a cafe in the morning and put Glass on, I’m in work mode. When I’m wearing Glass while checking email on my laptop and I see important emails slide through on Glass, I can respond directly if something is urgent from my Glass. I like to think of this as the Glass version of multitasking… Glasstasking!

Tech Cocktail: How much of the day do you spend wearing it? 

Barrett: In the first month of owning Google Glass,  I wore Glass around 100 hours total. Some days, I wore it for 5 hours and some for only a few minutes.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the most surprising thing about Google Glass?  

Barrett: I was shocked that Google Now knew that I was traveling to Utah and Detroit this month. It added in the local weather for my travel destination and even my flight information without me needing to update anything on my own.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the coolest part about Google Glass? 

Barrett: I love taking first-person-point-of-view videos. It’s a very futuristic way to record video, and whenever I hit record I feel like I’m in the film Strange Days. Even the most boring footage is exciting to watch a second time!

Tech Cocktail: What’s the most useful part about Google Glass? 

Barrett: The sunglass lens! It’s amazing when you put on the sunglass lens…Glass turns into a great pair of sunglasses. I’ve even worn Glass a few times in the sun with the power off.

Tech Cocktail: How do people react to it?

Barrett: Almost everyone reacts positively. Most people are confused as to what I’m wearing, but when I say Google Glass, most people have heard of it.

Tech Cocktail: What do you think could be improved on?

Barrett: The battery life in the retail version will have to have six- to ten-hour battery life vs. the two to four hours it currently has.

Tech Cocktail: How would you rate it from 1-10?  

Barrett: Google Glass in its beta stage is an 8.

Tech Cocktail: Do you think it will be a success? 

Barrett: Yes, Google Glass will be a success. If developers can create apps to make your life easier or more productive, Glass will be adopted at a very quick rate. I predict in two years 5 million units will be sold.

Chris Barrett photo credit: Jennifer Rubinovitz

Jimmy Tomczak 

Google Glass - Jimmy T

Bio: Tomczak is a social entrepreneur with a mission to design, inspire, and connect. He consults as a Brand Strategist for NewFoundry and founded TOMBOLO to develop eco-friendly beach gear around the world.

Tech Cocktail: How do you use Google Glass in your daily life? 

Jimmy Tomczak: The number one thing I use Glass for is visual: photos and video. I went from pro SLR to iPhone and somewhere in the future I think Glass will even be able to compete with that. For now, I treat it like a GoPro – I even wore my pair on my personal watercraft. It’d be nice if there was a built-in app that captured a photo every minute or so.

Tech Cocktail: How much of the day do you spend wearing it? 

Tomczak: Not more than an hour or so at a time. If I go out, I put them on. For daily creative work, I find them too distracting. Outside, I always wear sunglasses and these just don’t fit or feel the same.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the most surprising thing about Google Glass? 

Tomczak: As part of the Explorers program, I picked my pair up in San Francisco at the Glass office where they walk you through all the features. I remember my Glass Guide pointing to the little spot in the corner by the screen and saying, “That’s the microphone.” It’s actually also another mini camera-like device…There’s even an app that will sense an exaggerated eye blink and click the shutter for the camera.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the coolest part about Google Glass? 

Tomczak: Glass’s potential for the future: imagine integrating real-time facial recognition – you see a heads-up display of the person’s name and other bio info right as you meet them.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the most useful part about Google Glass?

Tomczak: I’ve never been one for a Bluetooth headset, but Glass integrates that audio feature with a picture of who you’re calling and pipes their voice through a bone conduction speaker. That’s the same tech scuba divers use. In theory it should be awesome. In reality, I couldn’t hear my call on an average city street.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the most annoying part about Google Glass?

Tomczak: Right now, Glass feels kind of clunky. There’s a bulky pack that sits on your right ear but nothing on the left side. Yes, the small band for the frames is titanium, but the rest is just cheap plastic. For something that could be on my face as much as your favorite pair of Ray-Bans, Google has to step it up.

Tech Cocktail: How do people react to it?

Tomczak: Ever had a puppy? Everyone wants to pet her and play with her, right? I’ve been stopped on the street or approached during a meeting and asked if I’d pose for a picture. All in good fun. I love meeting new people and asking interesting questions in return.

Tech Cocktail: What do you think could be improved on? 

Tomczak: Battery life is terrible. My Glass is nearly dead even if I just leave it sitting turned off for a day or two. If this is going to be an always-on piece of tech, the design needs to be less obtrusive with longer battery life.

Bonus: As a guy who’s always outdoors and at the beach, I’d love to see a waterproof version.

Tech Cocktail: How would you rate it from 1-10? 

Tomczak: 7. Definitely still beta but huge potential.

Tech Cocktail: Do you think it will be a success? 

Tomczak: Integrated technology is the future. We are trending towards augmented humanity or collective consciousness via the Internet, but I love being off the grid and on the water as much as I enjoy being connected. But Glass’s success, like our own, is through balance and presence. How will Google Glass bring us closer to the now?

Jen Aprahamian

Google Glass Jen

Bio: Aprahamian is a software developer and teacher who lives in Los Angeles.

Tech Cocktail: How do you use Google Glass in your daily life?

Jen Aprahamian: I’m still discovering new ways to use Glass – lately, my favorite has been using it to take video clips while house hunting. I can store them on Google+, and take little walk-throughs of the places I’ve seen.

I’m also thinking about ways to use Glass as a teaching tool; there are so many possibilities when one doesn’t have to hold a phone or camera!

Tech Cocktail: How much of the day do you spend wearing it? 

Aprahamian: I usually don’t wear Glass for more than an hour each day. That might change once there’s more Glassware.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the most surprising thing about Google Glass? 

Aprahamian: It’s incredibly aware of motion and positioning; I didn’t expect Glass to know when it was being worn/when it was on the table.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the coolest part about Google Glass? 

Aprahamian: Being able to say “okay glass” and make things happen is really fun. It’s such a simple thing, but it feels like the kind of tech I always wished for as a kid.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the most useful part about Google Glass? 

Aprahamian: Hands-free video! I love not having to worry about steadying my hands as I hold up a phone; I can just move around or turn my head.

Tech Cocktail: What’s the most annoying part about Google Glass? 

Aprahamian: The look; I can’t wear Glass without it being a statement piece. I’m looking forward to Google’s partnerships with designers; I would really like a stealth pair of Glass that looked just like regular frames.

Tech Cocktail: How do people react to it?

Aprahamian: Everyone wants to try it on! People are really into taking selfies with Glass on.

Tech Cocktail: What do you think could be improved on? 

Aprahamian: More Glassware! The current apps are a great start, but I was really hoping to see Instagram right away. Insta-Glass.

Tech Cocktail: How would you rate it from 1-10? 

Aprahamian: Right now? 6 or 7. It’s cool and has a lot of potential, but it isn’t “there” yet.

Tech Cocktail: Do you think it will be a success?

Aprahamian: Eventually! I think with a slight frame redesign and some more Glassware, it could really take off. I’m looking forward to more innovation in wearable tech, and I think Glass is a fantastic step forward.

 

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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