My Journey: How I got Google Glass, Part 1

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  • 7/15/2013
    A few months ago, I was one of several thunder::tech employees who applied to be a Google Glass Explorer—a group of only 8,000 who would be the first to get to purchase and experience Glass. My entry was selected and a couple months later, I received an invitation to purchase Glass and travel to New York to pick and receive a one-on-one introduction to the device with a Glass Guide.

    Glass is a head-mounted display that projects information right in front of your eye through a prism. To share the pickup experience with all of you, I created a log of my journey and initial thoughts on the device.

    July 10, 2013

    9:15 a.m. Went through airport security, which had no line, got a compliment on my shoes.

    9:20 a.m. Grabbed breakfast & coffee at Bruegger’s Bagels and found a seat by an outlet to camp out until boarding then started this log. Got another compliment on my shoes!

    10:29 a.m. Push notification from United iOS app shows up on my Pebble smart watch notifying me of a gate change.

    10:35 a.m. Boarded flight. Having a mobile boarding pass and no checked bags really saves time!

    12:10 p.m. Flight landed at LGA.

    1:10 p.m. Arrived at Chelsea Market, the pickup location, which is right across from Google's NYC offices. My appointment wasn't until 2 p.m., so I walked around a bit and got a quick lunch.

    2:05-3:30 p.m. Walked into a large room with around 15 stations where Glass Explorers were being trained by Glass Guides. Somewhat loud music was playing and there was a bar with drinks and snacks. Everyone was wearing Glass, even the bartender.

    First step, unboxing! After taking it out of the box, my Glass Guide Brian instructed me on how to adjust it to my face. Once adjusted, I took it off to turn it on. After a short booting period, an image was on the display. I had to adjust the angle of the display (it tilts in and out) to see the entire image.

    Using the MyGlass Android app, Brian showed me how to log into my Google account and set up the Wi-Fi. This can also be done through a Web browser if you're on iOS or just rather do it that way. After the initial setup, a QR code appears on the app (or website), which you scan with the Glass camera to configure your account on the device. Next step was a quick Bluetooth pairing between Glass and the Android smartphone I was carrying. The app or web app is also used to connect Glass with all your other accounts like Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, it does not support Instagram yet.

    After a few minutes, the setup was complete. Brian walked me through the basic operation of the device. Tap, or tilt your head up, engages the device. Swipe forward or back to move through cards (pages), tap to select, swipe down to go back. A quick press of the top button takes a photo, long press takes a 10 second video. Sharing is heavily tied to Google+.

    Knowing some people back at thunder::tech were standing by, we decided to do a quick Google Hangout (called video call on Glass XE7). I first had to create a Google+ circle with just the people I wanted to include, so I did and added a few t::t people. Justin was able to answer and we had a quick chat, I showed him around a bit and then went back to learning about Glass.

    We also went over how to do a basic Google search. You can ask it pretty much anything and it will answer. On a Chromebook, we logged into my account to link up some other social accounts. Brian also showed me how to find third-party (not officially supported) Glasswear (kind of like apps) in the developer section of the Glass site. He also told me that every Glass Explorer's account is automatically white listed for developing Glasswear and that I could add team members to the account! (The developers at t::t were pretty excited about this part.)

    I had asked a few more questions about Glass:
    • How is the battery life? — Can go a full day with basic tasks on a charge. Video and navigation are huge drains on the battery. Recording video, it only lasts about 45 minutes.
    • How long does it take to fully charge? — About an hour.
    • Will the Explorer Edition be supported after the consumer release? — Yes, they want to treat their early adopters well. 
    • What are the limitations when tied to iOS vs Android? — No text messaging or navigation. Can still make calls and use Bluetooth Tethering (assuming your wireless account supports it). No MyGlass app for iOS, but you can use the Web interface to configure.
    Realizing the battery was almost dead and my Glass wasn't running the latest version of the software, he let me plug it in for a bit to update and charge. The update took about 10 minutes to complete. Brian and I chatted while this was happening and he gave me the third compliment of the day on my shoes.

    On the way out, I noticed that one of the Google Now cards on Glass had automatically pulled in my flight status based on a confirmation in my Gmail account. It showed that my flight was delayed by 23 minutes. Google Now is a service that displays "the right information at the right time." It will analyze information from your Gmail, calendar and other Google services and show "cards" with information such as directions to your next appointment, drive time to work in the morning or drive home in the afternoon, weather, package tracking, sports scores, flight status and other information when it is relevant.

    3:40 Left the Glass pickup location and took a cab to the airport. Took a few shots with Glass, then the battery died. Realizing there's no reason to wear it with a dead battery, I boxed it back up.

    5:43 p.m. Received an Alert from United app, also pushed to Pebble, that my flight was canceled and rescheduled for the next morning. No flights out due to weather.

    Pick up on day two of Matt’s journey and discover his overall impressions with Glass so far in part 2 of this post.

    About the author::
    Matt Stevens is the manager of multimedia services and a graphic designer at thunder::tech. When he doesn't have a camera on his shoulder, he's probably swimming, biking or running (aka training for a triathlon). He also considers himself a proud "tree hugger."
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