Exclusive: An hour with Google Glass

See how an excited geek gushed over Google’s smart eyewear after an hour with it
Exclusive: An hour with Google Glass in Singapore

Before I proceed, don’t judge - I’m just a gadget aficionado (ok fine, a geek) who has had his eyes on Google Glass since it was announced.

And it was apparent that I couldn’t hold my excitement when I got my hands on the smart eyewear, albeit for only an hour. After all, not many people on this side of the world has laid their hands on Google’s smart eyewear, seeing how it’s only available in the U.S. and only a select few get to purchase it for US$1500 (S$1907)

But that’s not the gist of this story. Everything that I’ve read about Google Glass, how it looks and feels, did not prepare me for the actual experience.

Ok Glass, give me perfect eyesight

A Glass without glasses makes one as blind as a bat

For one, I was quite stoked when I placed the eyewear on my face. But in less than two seconds, the user experience dipped drastically. Removal of my own pair of analogue glasses is required before I get to put Glass on. Without my prescription lens, I’m blind as a bat, and you can guess what I saw - a blurred out user interface.

In short, I need to either Lasik my eyes or wear contact lenses before I can even use Glass. Alternatively, wait till frames with prescribed lenses for Glass are available.

Still, I managed to squint my way through, and grinned like a dork when I started swiping my way through the user interface. The gestures are simple enough - swipe left or right on the control unit to view tweets, images and any interactions you had with Google Glass, downwards once to return to the home page, twice to put Glass on standby mode and tap once to activate it.

With Glass activated, here’s where the fun and the true test begins. Personally, my Singaporean accent wracked havoc with both Siri and Google Voice when they were first available. It’s been a while since I tried Google Voice, and I heaved a sigh of relief when it picked up “Ok Glass” without difficulty. Mind you, it was done in a cafe with a moderate amount of clatter, which only made it even more amazing that Google’s voice service managed to work at all.

More importantly, it miraculously understood my request for directions to Orchard Road. In less than 10 seconds, step-by-step navigation was delivered on the display.

A wink and a stare

Smile for the wink!
A one-sided affair

Did it follow my orders to take a photo? Yes, it did. Even better, the XE12 update did exactly what it promised - a wink, and a picture was taken. Fortunately, I did not get the stink eye from the person I winked at.

It’s exciting and all, but an hour with it also revealed a few shortcomings. Besides the lack of prescription lenses for shortsighted folks, Glass can put a significant strain on one side of your head. It’s not going to give you a neck sprain, but you’ll detect a tinge of uncomfort. The unit also warmed up after prolonged usage. It’s a nice face warmer in temperate countries, but probably not in perpetual heatwave that's Singapore.

The frame’s bridge also gets uncomfortable quite quickly, and this is especially so with Glass’ weight leaning the frame to one side and applying too much pressure on the right side of my nose.

Ok Glass, come to us soon

Ok Glass, come to us soon

Glass has its share of downsides, so would I recommend it? Only early adopters need apply, as there’s quite a few kinks for Google to work out. Not to mention, shelling out US$1500 for a gadget still in its beta stage is going to break that bank. But sign me up for one when Glass, or in fact any smart eyewear, goes into mass production.

If not for the awesome features, then for the quizzical looks from absolute strangers.