First-person adventure: A day wearing Google Glass

By Carly Kempler
“OK glass.” This simple phrase poses endless possibilities to the Google Glass user.

Google Glass encompasses the futuristic technology portrayed in modern day sci-fi movies. A tiny glass attached to thin frames presents the user with a virtual screen, visible only to them, which enables the user to do a variety of different actions.

A screenshot of the Google Glass website.
A screenshot of the Google Glass website.

The Google Glass allows users to make and receive calls and texts, take pictures and videos, play virtual games and much more. Many applications are compatible with Google Glass, although some, like Netflix, are still not supported.

In order to comprehensively understand and be able to describe the Google Glass experience, I rented Google Glass from the Terrapin Learning Commons desk at McKeldin Library.

After clutching it tightly all the way back to my dorm, I opened the savvy white box that contained the $1,500 Google Glass.

No user manual? Great.

Inside the box was a pair of glasses — or at least, they looked like glasses, but without frames or lenses. Instead, these frames had a glass cube attached to the right side of the frame. There was also a charger for the glasses, as well as some sort of ear piece.

I gently clasped the glasses and placed them precariously on the bridge of my nose.

“On,” I said in a stern, commanding voice.

Nothing happened.

I took the glasses off and searched for some sort of power button and found it soon enough on the side of the glasses. Hearing a loud “boop-bing,” I quickly put the glasses back on.

I stared at a transparent screen, saying “Glass” for about a minute before the glasses prompted me to say “OK Glass.”

“OK Glass,” I repeated.

Immediately, a menu presented itself asking me if I wanted to Google something, play a game, get directions to somewhere, send a message and much more.

Naturally, I chose “play a game.” There were a few different options, but I settled on a balancing game, which required me to virtually balance blocks on my head.

I failed miserably, and the worst part was that I absolutely could not figure out how to exit the game. After losing five times, I was yelling, “Stop! Exit! I do not want to play! Please just let me leave!”

Eventually, after searching for exit strategies on Google (oh the irony), I decided to take off the glasses, shut them down and then turn them back on.

It worked!

After much experimenting and dealing with the glass repeatedly overheating, I successfully made a few calls to friends on my Google Glass, recorded silly videos and managed to Google search random facts. However, I did all of this after I connected the glass to my Gmail account and the Wi-Fi used by my computer.

I only had the Glass for a day, and I still had many questions about its purpose and programming. Luckily, Yitzhak Paul, a media and information supervisor at the university, owns his own Google Glass and provided me with an overview and his opinions of the Glass.

“Its intended effect hasn’t occurred,” Paul said. “Instead something else has happened, which is more interesting. You’re getting more niche applications for it.”

The glass was intended to be a developer’s device, and later become a consumer’s device, according to Paul. However, the Glass is being used for specialized work.

“The library can use them for shelf reading. [Library technicians] have to make sure everything is shelved correctly,” Paul said. “One thing we can do is put QR codes on all those [books] and use an application on the Glass in order to scan which ones are misshelved and which ones aren’t.”

There are other practical applications for the Glass outside of the university. Paramedics can use them to get more direct diagnoses from doctors for patients riding in ambulances.

Despite these applications, the Google Glass is nowhere near complete. It’s still considered a beta device, according to Paul. This means that the device is available for consumers because Google wants to test it outside of their ecosystem.

Although the $1,500 price tag, which now includes a set of glasses with the frames, is in place to discourage masses from purchasing the product.

And there are some glitches still, like overheating and short battery life. After filming about 45 minutes of video, Paul said, the device dies.

Paul also suggests that Google integrate the Glass more with the frames to make it less obstructive and noticeable to non-Glass wearers.

“I wore the glasses out after getting them, and people were giving me looks,” Paul said.

While this technology isn’t quite socially acceptable yet, some say Google Glass still has the potential to become popular, especially with users who are already integrated in the Android ecosystem.

Maybe Google Glass will become the wave of technology, enhancing our society even further into an age of technological dependence. Already a man was diagnosed with an addiction to his Google Glass.

“It definitely has the potential to get to that point,” Paul said.

The last time I said “OK Glass,” I was attempting to take a picture. Hopefully users will find themselves saying “OK Glass,” and something remarkable will happen, something a little more remarkable than my failed attempts of exiting a virtual game.


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