Although I had received Google Glass on Wednesday I hadn’t had a chance to really immerse myself into the product, technology or features. That changed when I decided to take Glass out into the wild today.
I was really excited to see how it would feel to wear Glass for a complete day and how it would affect the way I consumed content, or created it. I was also very excited to document the reactions I would receive.
Before I ventured out into the streets of Milwaukee I decided I would make a few rules for the day.
- I would not wear Google Glass while driving.
- I would not take pictures in any inappropriate settings or of anyone who felt uncomfortable by the technology.
- I would stop and talk to anyone who approached me or had questions.
- I would do my best to document each reaction.
My first stop of the day was PNC Bank, which I thought would offer the most interest or resistance. On the front door they ask customers to remove their hats and glasses, but what would they think about Google Glass? Having spent quite a bit of time getting my deposit in order I didn’t get one odd look. And when I approached the counter I was sure I would get an inquisitive look or question, I was somewhat disappointed to receive neither.
Wolf’s Cleaners is old school. I wasn’t sure what to expect and figured any reaction would depend on the age of the clerk. The young woman who did help me with my dry cleaning didn’t ask a question nor did she recognize the technology. I initially thought if anyone would recognize Glass it would be a younger demographic, maybe someone more affluent who read about it, or a group of geeks.
I found myself on the way to the mall, looking to do some shopping as well as drum up some interest. Walking though Boston Store and into Barnes and Noble didn’t net any questions or looks. Is it that Google Glass isn’t well-known enough? Did it blend in enough that it didn’t seem odd?
As I walked into Express I finally received a few looks. One couple that was shopping looked directly at me and the gentleman gave me a nod and hello, it was quite clear he knew what I was wearing. Another couple looked at me confused and one sales associate looked at me with such disgust it wasn’t clear what she was thinking.
But the best reaction came from Ross Monaghan – finally a friendly face. Shopping with his family he noticed me first before realizing I was wearing Glass. Although we struck up a conversation it wasn’t because of Glass as much as it was because we knew each other.
Two hours into my loose anthropological study and I was starting to believe no one would approach me to ask about Glass or feel like I was potentially invading their privacy if they were aware of its features.
I hit up Pottery Barn as well as the Gap. I received a few brief looks, but nothing outrageous or rude. I wouldn’t say any of the people shopping knew what I was wearing, but they did have a puzzled look on their face.
I next found myself in Banana Republic where I didn’t receive any questions either, even through the checkout process. I found little interest in Eddie Bauer as well.
Up next, the Apple Store. Would I be looked at with disgust because I was wearing a Google product or would I finally see a flurry of interest? The Apple Store was incredibly busy, as usual, and it was clear everyone there was on a mission. Almost immediately I recognized a another familiar face, Gee Ekachai.
Gee was on a mission as well, to secure a new iPhone 5S. Happy to see each other we struck up a conversation and I offered her the opportunity to try on Glass and take it for a test drive.
It was fun to strike up a conversation with Gee and the Apple associate that was about to help her did ask if I was wearing Glass. So, I had two great conversations with Ross and Gee and a soft level of interest from a store employee.
As I left the Apple Store I decided I would leave the mall and head over to Best Buy. On my way out I walked past the Microsoft pop-up store near the middle of the mall. Here I received the first real interest for Glass. One of the salesmen called out asking if I was wearing Google Glass so I stopped to have a conversation.
We immediately struck up a conversation about the technology and my impressions of the product so far. I quickly realized that I didn’t have a strong opinion yet on Glass, nor did I have a short elevator speech.
Up until this point I’ve had very limited interactions with Glass and a majority of my usage was surface level. I let both the Microsoft employee and a fellow shopper try Glass on and walked them through the interface a bit. They both were grateful and truly interested.
As I left the mall I was glad I parked close to the door. Wearing a device on your face that costs $1,500 can create a bit of an uneasy feeling. The entire day I was looking for someone to recognize what I was wearing and now I was nervous and hoping no one outside of the mall would notice.
Immediately walking into Best Buy I found interest from the sales associate working the door. He asked if I was wearing Glass and what I thought of it. I gave a brief overview and offered him the opportunity to try it on but he declined.
Walking throughout the store I didn’t receive too many looks until I made it to the Google pop-up store where a sales associate and a trainee asked me about Glass. Again, I offered both the opportunity to try it on and the trainee took me up on it.
I decided to pick up one of my favorite movies, Almost Famous, and again received little to no interest during the checkout process.
Milwaukee Public Market
Up next, the Milwaukee Public Market. I needed to kill a little time before my haircut appointment so I thought I would grab some food.
I stopped by Margarita Paradise to grab some tacos and immediately received a question from the bartender. While waiting for my order of tacos I received a third inquiry. The close quarters and level of foot traffic meant a lot more looks of interest.
While watching the Wisconsin Badgers game I felt like an outcast as I ate alone in my Google Glass. Now, it wasn’t like I was forced to stand at a table by myself, but I did feel like all the eyeballs on me were judging just a bit.
Neroli Spa and Salon
Next up, Neroli. If I were going to get any looks judging me, I thought it would be by the women at Neroli, mainly because they probably don’t cut the hair of a lot of geeks like me.
I regretted wearing Glass into Neroli almost immediately. The front desk associates looked at me as if I were an alien or the Terminator. As I checked-in for my appointment the sales associate stared with a bit of disgust. I don’t think she meant to give me that face, but it was definitely a WTF moment.
As my stylist came out to greet me I took Glass off because I obviously would not be wearing it while she cut my hair. Michelle didn’t give me any weird looks, but she also didn’t ask about Glass. We had a great conversation while she cut my hair and that was it. My day was coming to a close, and after more than four hours I received just three inquires about Glass minus those of Ross and Gee.
Before I headed home I used Glass to make my first official phone call to my fiancé. It was a bit odd using Glass to make a call. Version 1 of the technology used a bone conductor to emit audio. Version 2 of Glass, which is what I own, has a speaker just near the ear.
The speaker is good, but the vibrations cause just a tickle around the ear as it pumps out audio. If someone were close enough, they would likely be able to hear your conversation.
Pick n’ Save
On my way home I made one last stop at Pick n’ Save to pick up some food and other goods. Having spent just about 20 minutes shopping I didn’t receive any looks of disgust or stares.
And as I was checking out the young clerk didn’t ask me about Glass either. She took a moment to look at what I was wearing but never asked. And that is when I meant my #1 fan.
One of the baggers / cart attendants stopped in his tracks to stare at me as I was checking out. In his late teens, he stared for a good 30 seconds before asking me what I was wearing.
I initially said it was Google Glass and both he and the clerk had no idea what that meant. I went on to explain the technology and he asked me what the benefit was. I simply stated that much of what you could do on a smart phone you could not do through Glass.
HE WAS FLOORED. He kept saying things like “I’m seeing the future” and asked “am I dreaming?”
As I began walking out he followed me, asking about the technology and just how much it cost. Having never heard of Glass he was just so amazed at the technology. I offered to let him try it on and it clearly opened a new world for him. Testing out the technology he again exclaimed that he was “seeing the future.”
As we talked more I felt like a cross between the Terminator and Marty McFly from Back to the Future. He said I made his day. No sir, I think you made mine.
I walked out of the house this morning not sure what to expect. Today was the first full day I would spend wearing Google Glass and the first time I would wear it out in the wild.
Initially I expected people to look at me with equal amounts of interest and disgust. Instead, I think a few factors limited those types of interactions.
- It is easy to forget that the technology isn’t mainstream.
- The device itself blends in more than I imagined. The associate at Best Buy and a few others commented on seeing the bar on the right side of my head and that tipped them off.
- Loosely, Glass just looks like glasses without frames. So in retrospect, I could see many people questioning that more than the technology.
And while I primarily focused on the interactions I would have today, I also enjoyed seeing how Glass would integrate into my daily life.
- More than once I found myself starting the car and beginning to drive with Glass on. I tried to remind myself to remove them but it felt very natural wearing them.
- I didn’t experience any fatigue wearing them, although it does have some weight to it.
- I think I would prefer the privacy of the bone conducting speaker vs. the traditional speaker.
- In bright sunshine it is a bit difficult to see the screen.
- Having figured out how to pair Glass with my iPhone 5S, I was impressed that Glass recognized I was at Mayfair Mall. It presented me with a card showing nearby restaurants and movies playing at the AMC Theater. Pretty damn cool.
- That said, although Glass was tethered to my iPhone 5S it didn’t update that information as often as I would expect. Once I arrived downtown I thought those cards would change or disappear. They didn’t, and I am not sure why.
- Glass isn’t completely in sync with the rest of Google. Although I’ve archived or deleted e-mail on GMail, the cards still remain on Glass. I feel like that should be in constant sync and updated vs. a timeline of interactions.
I enjoyed sharing my interactions throughout the day as well. One of my friends noted that I shouldn’t take it into the bathroom with me. Who wouldn’t want to see that “live stream?”
It was really exciting to have such an interaction at the end of the day. Here was a very regular guy that never experienced Glass before and he was just so impressed by the technology that he could barely contain it.
Everyone that tried it on, including him, saw the potential of having Glass integrated into their lives. As for me, I am very excited to see how I continue to use Glass over the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned for more updates!
Finally, thank you to Joseph for the invite to Glass … and a whole new world. Without his friendliness I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of wearable technology. Thank you!