It’s here. Version 2 of Google Glass. Courtesy of a one-time swap-out program, to update the original Glass Explorers to the newest hardware.
That, and I was inspired by Mat Honan’s (@mat) piece in Wired (see: I, Glasshole: My Year With Google Glass | Gadget Lab | Wired.com) that I thought I should record my own experiences as well.
First, overheard at one of the iconic Whole Foods in Washington, DC:
Ted’s friend to Glass wearer (not me): “I’m concerned about my privacy when you wear those”
Glass wearer: “Don’t worry about it.”
Ted’s friend: “I am worried about it.”
And he is worried about it. Worry or not, the reaction of the Glass Explorer caught even me off guard, because it’s not how I’ve been leveraging Glass.
Glass Makes Friends
Forget about what Glass does or doesn’t do technologically speaking for a second (or a minute, an hour, a lifetime). It starts conversations about the future, all dependent on the aptitude of the explorer. For the right kind of conversation, endless enthusiasm, respect, and compassion is necessary. I made a habit of photographing the people I made friends with through glass. Here are just a few of the memorable ones, including my very first Glass-made friend, a woman in the Chicago Amtrak Station who I shared a moment with before I started an 18 hour train journey (she’s the one in the purple blouse below). Think about it – I put a $1500 computer on a stranger’s head and gave her one of the first glimpses of wearable technology of any person in America. To be able to connect with someone who was connecting to the future at the same time….priceless.
In a small percentage of people, I’d say about 5%, I feel like I have literally seen their brains explode with rainbows and shooting stars on their first wearing. Those moments are genuine, amazing, and kind of awe inspiring about what humanity is capable of.
I haven’t really worn it around that much
For the reason that I want to be ready to share and converse and sometimes I’m not prepared for that, for the reasons cited by Mat above about the awkwardness, I really haven’t worn them around in my daily life, as much as my GlassFitters encouraged me to. I hate to say this as a pragmatist, this is where good design comes in, and right now, the design is a little … too modern. I think the new frames and shades could be game changing. We’ll see. My esteemed colleagues at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health (@kptotalhealth) haven’t taken to wearing them around either, although I’ve encouraged it :).
About what it does
It does a few things. It acquires images from perspectives that are not typical – I recall this shot, when someone asked me how tall I was, because they are not my height and don’t normally see the world from a 6′ tall vantage point. That’s interesting. Same goes for video, here’s a great example from Chloe, the simulation mannequin, who’s showing us the patient perspective of an acute situation in labor and delivery. It’s a little emotional to watch actually, because even though it’s a simulation, you can feel the tension and fear as “the patient” in distress.
App, er GlassWare wise, there’s some stuff, but honestly not a lot that’s compelling right now. Glass can’t connect to my enterprise email/calendaring system, so it’s not going to tell me where I need to go next, and it hasn’t been able to navigate to information I want quickly enough. Let’s see what V2 can do that’s different.
It’s worth noting something that a lot of people who are not clinicians typically don’t appreciate – the time pressure on a clinician is immense, even a second delay in accessing information can render a tool useless. Not because of the clinician, because of the patient – clinicians want to “be there” for the people that they are taking care of and those precious seconds quickly drain the effectiveness of the therapeutic relationship. You can’t be somewhere else while you are trying to be “there” with your patient, where they want you to be. I have not used Glass in a clinical setting, I am just extrapolating from what I know about clinical practice.
About what’s next
With V2 I am pledging to engage again with Glass and with people around my community (hello GlassDC) who are an exceptional set of innovators (Glassingtonians). I’m being careful to avoid saying what’s next for health care because I don’t know. What’s different now is that within our organization, there are as many pairs of Glass as there are medical groups (7) so many more people will be able to ignite sparks, if they are ignitable.
I think there’s definitely a future for wearable computing. What I don’t know is whether Google will be the incumbent or not. Will another organization integrate the design and functionality better? Will Glass find a home in specialized settings? Will it incrementally improve to be a don’t-leave-without-it type device? Maybe. I like the way The Economist put it so succinctly, as it does, in November, 2013 ( The recorded world: Every step you take | The Economist) :
Glass may fail, but a wider revolution is under way
The Glasshole thing
Back to the story in Whole Foods above, when we look to see how useful Glass is, it’s a study in selection bias. The kind of person who’s wearing Glass right now is the kind of person who’s enthusiastic about exploring using Google Glass. Part misfit, part innovator, part zealot, part luminary, part rebel, part “cognitive dissident”. I think our responsibility is to move the field of human-centered technology ahead, for sure. It’s also to inspire the people around us about the future, with an empathetic touch and an outstretched hand. People are worried about the future, and a leader’s job is to help them worry less about it. That has been the most important functionality of Google Glass for me. It’s what I’m here to do anyway. I don’t endorse products or services, I endorse the human spirit. That’s what Glass helps with.