Do you see what I see?
Posted on July 1, 2014
I got my first pair of glasses when I was 11 years old. I chose a bookish, horn-rimmed pair, thinking they’d make me look like Clark Kent. Even at that age, I knew to under promise and over deliver. I was never going to be Superman, but I could manage mild-mannered – maybe more.
10 years on, and it’s not just Clark Kent wearing the horn-rims. It’s Superman too.
Google Glass promises not only to fix your eyesight (if it needs fixing), but to repair those other human weaknesses: the inability to look at a map without taking our eyes off the road, to send a text message without using our fat fingers, to slyly take a photo or a video without being noticed.
The ‘smart glasses’ arrived here in the UK this weekend, and I was at the launch with hundreds of other Googly eyes, wandering around a well lit and catered showroom in Kings Cross, joining a chorus of “Okay Glass”, like a Gregorian chant.
That’s the verbal command that initiates Google Glass’s features. “Okay Glass, take a picture,” and you can guess what happens.
As we repeated the phrase, we must have looked like the visual equivalent of a drugged-up silent disco. Each in our own worlds, our eyes rolled up into the translucent displays above our eyes.
If this is the future, I thought. It’s an oddly isolating one.
“Did you see the stars?” I asked, after turning on Glass’s constellation map that follows as you move your head.
“No,” someone replied. “I was watching a YouTube video.”
To anyone watching, we were both just staring off into the distance.
The constellation map is already an app for smartphones and tablets. I’ve held it up to the sky on cloudless nights and blown some minds with it. It’s really impressive. Glass’s version is impressive too, but it’s a very private experience.
If looking up at the stars begs the question “are we alone?”, doing so during the day, talking to yourself with a computer strapped to your face, is the answer.