Interapt Glass Explorers: We’ve Got Glass!

No, go back, you missed it.”  For the Interapt Glass team, navigating the journey to Google’s Los Angeles offices—one of only a few locations in the world where Google Glass Explorers could pick up their device—was not quite effortless.   Beyond the difficulty we had getting accurate turn-by-turn directions on this two-lane road that ran parallel to the Venice Beach boardwalk, the offices themselves were obscured by trees, with no big logo or “Google” sign adorning the front or sides of the streetside building.  But then my eyes caught a small temporary sign on the sidewalk that said “Glass Parking”—as well as the group of young people sitting casually around it, as if they were observing the daytime traffic simply to pass the time.

When we backed up and pulled the car alongside the group, we noticed each of them wearing Google Glass.  One approached the driver-side window and asked for our name.  When we gave them two names, at first she seemed confused.  “Wait, so two of you are Glass Explorers?”  Indeed, we confirmed that there were two Explorers in the car, as well as one other person (Explorers are allowed to bring one friend in to join them as they pick up the device).  “That’s awesome!  Just leave your car with us and we’ll have someone park it for you while you go inside.”  And with that, the three of us stepped out of the car and into the world of Glass.

We signed in, got our security badges, and followed our Glass Guides across a middle courtyard, dodging human-size chess boards and Google-colored lounge chairs as we entered what looked like a converted warehouse and up to the Glass presentation room.  It looked like a more industrial version of the well-known Apple store format, yet with aesthetics that were just as soothing.  To me, it played well with Google’s more blue-collar approach to programming and development, versus Apple’s more white-collar attitude.  We were all offered drinks (anything between water, coffee, beer, and a mimosa) and sat down to begin learning how Glass works.

Our Glass Guides first made sure the device fit our faces in the manner they were meant to–with the crystal display slightly above our field of vision over our right eye.  When we asked about Glass models made for people with prescription glasses (luckily those of us with poor eyesight–like myself–already wear contacts), they couldn’t comment further than affirming that Google engineers were working on new prototypes that would solve that issue. The most intriguing event during the time we spent learning about Glass came when the Glass team told us they themselves were witnessing the first Glass-to-Glass phone call made in their presence; because our two Explorers (myself and our lead designer, Alicia Reeves) knew each other, we thought it was natural to call each other using Glass during our simultaneous tutorials.  We could tell our Glass Guides were as excited as we were to see how well the call worked (it was mostly successful, with only a few minor tweaks needed).

Perhaps an hour later, after the rest of our extensive but enjoyable one-on-one tutorials, and after the Glass team was assured that our immediate questions were answered, we were congratulated, thanked, and set free upon Venice Beach and the world at large with our shiny new toys. We took a great recommendation from the Glass team for a tasty lunch spot (Venice Alehouse) and immediately noticed plenty of curious looks from other customers and passers-by.  I thought perhaps the proximity of the Google offices (about two blocks away) would make the sight of Glass more common to them, but I can also understand how an innate human curiosity of any Venice Beach regular would trump the familiarity they had with people casually wearing Glass along the boardwalk.  After all, though the Explorer program had already been active for the past month or so, very few people have touched the device.  We saw another patron wearing Glass eating lunch nearby, so we obviously weren’t the first or last Glass users that would be eating lunch there.  We paid our bill and took a quick stroll on the sands, being sure to record video of it that we could share with our officemates in Louisville–after all, what good is “working” on the beach if you can’t rub it in?

Over the following days, we wore Glass in various venues, situations, and events.  Our first impressions of the device led us to believe it could have a huge impact on everyday users in the following areas:

  • Business Operations:  Warehouse management, Security, and Communications could see a vast improvement in efficiency; virtually limitless applications here.
  • Marketing:  Getting behind-the-scenes footage and seamlessly sharing it to social media could give your audience a unique perspective they would appreciate and identify with your brand.
  • Education:  Broadcasting your experience at a historical site, like an archaeological dig or monument, or witnessing a historic event
  • Sports:  Instructional videos would have an added dimension of seeing techniques executed from their instructor’s very specific point-of-view; examples would be golf, tennis, baseball, and other various (non-contact) sports.

Of course, being app developers, we also considered the development and design possibilities that the device presents for us:

  • User Experience: Augmented reality presents an almost-untouched platform for which we can design new interfaces, behaviors, and aesthetics that are raw and mostly untested.
  • User Interface: We are able to engage users with multiple behaviors, including voice, visual, touch, and movement—all with much less friction than a handheld device.
  • Streamlined Development: Internally, we could integrate Glass into our design and development process ourselves, sharing live feeds with any off-site team members to sharpen the process not only within our own company, but also in tandem with partners and clients.

One thing is for sure: Glass presents a whole new frontier for us not only as users, but as developers and dreamers.  In the coming weeks, we’ll bring you into our development process with Glass and invite you to share your thoughts.  In the meantime, we’d love to have Glass discussions with you about its possible uses and drawbacks, so please feel free to leave a comment below, or visit us on Facebook and Twitter.  Be sure to return here and check up on our blog each week for posts covering more exciting Interapt Glass news and discoveries!

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