Let’s start with the obvious. I am a hopeless technophile and I need help. I’m not a role model, I’m a cautionary tale. I’m the people your parents would have warned you about if they had any idea how the future turned out.
The most recent proof of these truths is my – successful – application to be a “Glass Explorer” in Google’s project – Glass – to develop a wearable device that resembles a pair of glasses without lenses that projects a tiny image into the user’s right eyeball. Think of it as computer that can be controlled with voice, gestures and taps with a display that sits in your field of vision. This project has been talked about for years and Google has offered various glimpses of the technology as it has developed.
In recent months, however, the glimpses have become almost continuous as the Googlers get closer to actually launching Glass. There was an 50-minute presentation at the recent SXSW festival that is technical in some parts, but gives a nice inside-looking-out introduction to the interface and there’s a high-production-value promotional video on the Glass site.
All of which has served to set the table for the next stage. In February, the company launched a contest seeking 8,000 beta-testers who would be willing to pay $1,500 for an early-model Glass, travel to New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco – on their own dime – for a still-unknown group event and to participate in a details-to-follow beta test of the device to see how real people (I use the term advisedly in my case) will use Glass in the real world. The uses identified so far include hands-free photography and video, heads-up display of useful information – directions, weather, etc. – and a voice-driven, Siri-like access to the Internet and other services.
I was one of the thousands of crazies who entered via Twitter or Google+ with the following entry:
If you watch the promotional video, you’ll understand the hashtag.
I’m not sure how many others raised their hands, but my 140-character entry was apparently good enough to make the cut because about five weeks later I got a reply:
Nothing from Google since then, but somebody at Stanford did an analysis of many of the winners, ranging from Neil Patrick Harris (5.53 million followers on Twitter) to yours truly (0.0007 million followers to Alex McAlpin (aka “galacticboy2009”) of Trenton, Georgia with 0.000007 million followers. There are about two dozen people in Minneapolis who’ve been tapped, many working in communications-related professions.
I have no idea what I’m going to do with Glass (and – full disclosure – I’m not 100% sure I’ll be able to participate depending on the specific terms of the program; for example, if the device transmits data I don’t want to share or if the event conflicts with something at work or if – shockingly – I come to my senses and realize I’m insane to spend $2,000 (device, airfare, food and lodging) for a piece of hardware that I’ve never even touched. I do know, though, that I’m very excited contemplating the possibilities.
So, I throw it open to the Crowd: what would you do with Glass? Would you do it at all? Is it the next step in making computing power more accessible and useful as an enhancement to our life or is it the next step toward becoming the Borg?
Either way, I suspect resistance is futile.