So up till now I haven’t had a reason to be travelling into central London, but that was about to change as I headed out to Goodge Street station where I would then make my way to Birbeck College for a Mensa IQ test.
I had booked this a while ago before I got married as I wanted to firstly test my own IQ and also to join the Mensa organisation. I guess my ego needed some pampering the day I booked it! Who knows, the test results might come back and tell me I’m a complete dunce!
Anyways, getting there involved travelling on train, underground and walking in the busiest streets in London.
The fascination with the Google Glass from the public happened almost the moment I stepped out of my front door. As I walked to the station you could see that passersby would either stare, do a double take or simply move their eyes to look at me.
There were those people who knew what it was and was curious. There were people who had no idea but were curious. There were people who thought it was some eye sight aid. There were people who were too embarrassed to look.
It was strange because it brought out lots of different contrasting emotional states from people that in a way challenged them to confront what was happening in front of them.
I think for the most part, those who knew what it was felt uncomfortable around me. They knew that potentially I could have been filming or photographing them. Even though the screen only lights up when there is activity, the general public doesn’t know that, so they just assume that the Glass is on and recording the whole time.
There was even a girl on the underground who sat opposite me who completely blushed and went totally red in the face, and her entire body language was one of total discomfort. You can tell that people here in the UK were generally more cautious and were in fact fearful of the device on the whole.
On several occasions I could hear conversations between people as I sat or walked, concerning the Glass which I was wearing. The conversations circled around topics like privacy, humanism, technology and in general the confronting aspect of wearing a computer with a video recorder on the face.
When I got to Goodge Street station, a couple stopped me to chat about it and their curiosity was fired by the fact that they were doing some sort of play about humanism and the Google Glass, specifically. They were part of an acting course somewhere. They’ve invited me to their play as they would like their director to experience the Glass for himself. Strange that they would do a play about something they don’t have firsthand experience in.
Anyways, continuing on I reached Birbeck College and whilst waiting in the queue for the Mensa test, another guy started chatting to me about the Glass and technology. What appears to be true about the public perception is that firstly, they don’t really have a clue as to the functionality of the Glass. In most cases their imagination about what the Glass can do, far outweighs what the device really can do.
Secondly, they seem to believe (at least those who know about it), that the Glass will be ready for production at the consumer level at some point very soon. This I think is also far from reality, having been using and testing it for 4 days, I can honestly say so far that I think this device is very far from a consumer model. The limited functionality will seriously anger people who might buy this now and think it is ready for real consumer use.
As the test began, I had to remove the device. As you would of course imagine for any exam!
Afterwards I began to make my way back out and was meeting my wife for an evening out. Again as I walked from place to place, and as I got closer to Tottenham Court Road, our meeting spot, you can tell that people all around were just generally uneasy and/or curious at the same time.
I’m not convinced that wearing a camera on the face is something people want in the future. At least here in the more reserved nation of England, people are very sceptical about such devices. Privacy is a leading concern in this culture and it’s often caused heated debates both within Government and outside in corporate world actions.
I met up with my wife and we headed to a restaurant called Sticks’n’Sushi for a spot of Japanese dinner. They were connected to The Cloud wifi services, so because I have that setup on my phone, it automatically joined the wifi as I entered.
Here’s where I noticed a flaw straight away with the combination of iPhone and Glass. Since the Glass relies on the tethering to iPhone for connectivity, and of course the iPhone won’t tether and join a wifi at the same time, the moment I joined the local wifi, the Glass would be disconnected. Furthermore I couldn’t of course connect the Glass to public wifi’s because they don’t work the same as a home wifi router with a password and wifi name.
Most public wifis work off a password login system, or some sort of phone number identification with the 3G network to authenticate and permission the access.
The flaws are all connectivity related with the Glass. It is a device that heavily relies on being connected, but really with the conflicting nature of wifi vs. 3G vs. public wifi vs. personal hotspot and any combination thereof, it’s clear that this area needs a hell of a lot of work if the Glass intends to stay connected.
In fact I’d go so far as to say that the Glass in its current state, with current battery technology and power usage of being connected, it isn’t possible to create a device that would work and remain powered for long. You could make it work right now, but I guess that the battery would last less than an hour, plus because you can’t type on the Glass, complex public wifi login entry systems will prevent it from being user friendly.
I decided to turn the Glass off in the restaurant. Again people were staring and look and chatting about it, from the waiters to the customers. By this point I had been feeling extremely self conscious all day long. I guess this might be what it’s like being a celebrity when loads of people are looking and staring at you.
For someone like me who isn’t an extrovert, it does get very uncomfortable after a while. Since we were heading to the movies after dinner, I felt my testing for the day was done.