Last Thursday, I received incredible news — I’ve been selected as a Google Glass Explorer.
This means that I am one of the 8,000 people across the U.S. who will get to test-drive Google Glass before the final version hits the market. To a freelance media creator with an addiction to gadgets, it sounds wonderful.
Since some of you might not yet be familiar with Google’s wearable computing gizmo, I’ll start off with Google’s own video introduction. This is what Glass looks like when you’re using it, at least according to Google’s PR:
No one with any geek in their soul can watch that and not become excited about things to come. Of course, being selected is only the first part, then it gets expensive.
Being selected means being one of the 8,000, but it doesn’t mean that the gear is free. It involves a $1,500 cost for the gear combined with having to travel to either the West Coast or NY in order to pick it up. As you might imagine, there are a lot of Kickstarter and Indigogo campaigns getting started right now by the “lucky” recipients.
Those crowdfunding campaigns are the source of stridently split opinion online. One very vocal segment of the conversation asserts that anyone without the money to cover the gear and the trip needed to pick it up should not have entered.
I disagree. Crowdfunding is a valid way to do things like this, and, more importantly, it also helps keep the Glass device from becoming a “rich kid’s toy” with a vaguely Mac-like mystique. As long as people can offer enough perceived value to attract donations, I say let them, as it widens the demographics testing this new tech, which is always a good thing.
As a media creator, again, I am truly excited about this. When I do my yearly coverage of Comic-Con, this year it is going to change the entire playing field. Likewise when I help run the Rising Tide conference next August. The ability to instantly snap stills or video without a handset, not to mention the power of Hangouts, will be an interesting experience.
The Explorer program is very much a beta testing scenario preceding a commercial product that Google has slated for late this year or early next. In many ways, it will be fascinating to see what constant, in-depth info and recording capabilities can do to my own perception of the world.
The flip side is seeing how people react to me. People get uneasy when they fear they might be recorded or photographed without their knowledge. This unease is already rearing its head in Seattle where a dive bar called the 5 Point has become the first business to preemptively ban Google Glass.
GeekWire‘s Todd Bishop spoke with the owner:
Why is the 5 Point doing this?
‘I’m a thought leader,’ jokes Dave Meinert, owner of the 5 Point, speaking on the Luke Burbank Show at our news partner KIRO-FM this morning. ‘First you have to understand the culture of the 5 Point, which is a sometimes seedy, maybe notorious place. People want to go there and be not known […] and definitely don’t want to be secretly filmed or videotaped and immediately put on the Internet.’
He admits, ‘Part of this is a joke, to be funny on Facebook, and get reaction. But part of it’s serious, because we don’t let people film other people or take photos unwanted of people in the bar, because it is kind of a private place that people go.’
How did Meinert’s customers react to the preemptive ban? GeekWire asked them:
In West Virginia, one politician is pushing a bill to make Google Glass and other wearable technology illegal on the road. Details via ZDNet:
However, this isn’t the only issue. If you’d like to wear your high-tech headgear on the road, fears that such technology may prove distracting have prompted a governmental response. Shortly after CNET’s post went live, Republican legislator Gary. G. Howell proposed a bill ahead of time to prevent wearable technology being legal to wear while you’re in control of your vehicle. (Of course, using dashboard technology and apps isn’t as distracting, is it?)
The bill, H.B. 3057, was designed to stop Google Glassers from wearing their headgear on roads in West Virginia. Although not against the invention itself, Howell said that it could be as distracting as texting — and therefore could prompt a rise in accidents.
I think that all of us who will be testing Glass need to be prepared for both the best and the worst of possible reactions. It will also be interesting to see how this affects our various online properties — blogs, YouTube accounts, etc.
Glass will not only help us create an amazing level of “on the fly” content, but it will also be one of the more searched-for terms as we lead up to a public product release. Both of these factors should promote a drastic rise in online visibility for Glass Explorers, and will give us a small preview of what sort of impact on SEO the widespread distribution of this tech might have.
If I am able to pull off my crowdfunding, I will report back here on a regular basis with the results of my field testing. From shooting videos of Mardi Gras in New Orleans to possibly being shown the door in some establishments, it is going to be interesting!
George “Loki” Williams is the community and brand manager for award wining game company Savage Mojo, Ltd. and the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC, an online consultancy specializing in Web content and online communications. Loki has produced content for clients including the Open Society Institute, National Association of Broadcasters, Kobold Press, and Kaiser Permanente. His work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, Air America, The Gambit Weekly, and NOLA.com, among others.