Glass Explorers Stop Exploring

at the Wired Offices

At the Wired offices

As Google Glass closes its Explorer program everything I have to say about wearing a computer on your head, I did for WIRED in 2013. Like the other explorers I know, I stopped wearing it after several uncomfortable moments and my family refused to engage with me when I had it on. I did capture interesting POV videos and photos with it, and shared most of those on G+, like this Strip ride. The creative workflow for a blogger was remarkable and Google did an excellent job with the Explorers themselves, it failed because…it was a computer on your head.

Socially, a little silver box recording video is OK and I’d recommended in my article and to Google that they redirect the design to action cams and do something absolutely remarkable, like voice-activated, hands-free POV, and maybe that’s what they’re doing. In their email to Explorers, they promised us the next version at some time in the future.

During an adrenaline-rush moment on a Park City trail, I was pedaling downhill on a thin strip of single track with hip-high grass pulling at the handlebars. Don’t look right, lean left, pedal. And breathe. Getting through that section unhurt and alive, I paused and said, “Ok, Glass. Take a picture.”

I’m sure the reactions to Glass were very frustrating to the Explorer dev team. It was Google tech built for people, instead of machines, and intended to stop us from looking down constantly at our phones.

The technology was supposed to liberate us, but I ultimately felt trapped by it because the distraction was too great, even when I was in a city like London where Glass hadn’t launched yet.

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A view of London through Glass

They likely made a marketing error also by launching it first with alpha geeks, not realizing that consumers don’t aspire to or want to look like Robert Scoble. The team later got Glass on the runway and into the hands and on the heads of celebrities. The Explorer program certainly did achieve the goals of getting different perspectives, stabilizing, and socializing the tech.

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Glass with Cap

The world just wasn’t ready and isn’t likely to accept the computer on your head form factor. What I hope isn’t lost and we’ll see again in another more discrete form is the OS – what I called glanceable computing. So much of what’s on our phones now is distracting instead of enhancing our days, and I have little interest in the current crop of wearables.

We’ll see what Apple does with their watch and if it’s more than a satellite of your phone. More media I made with Glass: