“Are those the Google glasses?” asked the guy in the furry headdress, hemp-rope sandals, and no shirt, after halting his manic dancing to dubstep artist Zomboy.
Why yes, yes they are.
“Can I see them?”
If there’s one thing TomorrowWorld (September 27-29) taught me about Glass -- the new invention from Google that promises to speed us toward our inevitable cyborg future -- it’s that its mystique knows no bounds. Even in the beating heart of EDM country (in this case, producer ID&T’s three-day festival in Atlanta, Georgia), far away from the media pundits who have already dubbed anyone spotted with the coveted headgear “Glass-holes,” people know what it is, and want to get their facepaint-stained hands all over it. From the press tent to the Main Stage to the food courts, it took about 30 seconds from the moment Glass emerged from my bag for heads to start turning and the boldest among them to approach.
Privileged as I was, it took a bit of time to figure out the strange hardware, which looks part Geordi La Forge visor, part grandpa bifocal. There are tilt settings to help get the fit right, so that the prismatic crystal that serves as your right eye’s mini-screen is somewhat central to your vision. The side controller piece requires precise tap and swipe motions (both left/right, and up/down), which can result in social media faux pas if done incorrectly (No, DELETE that picture of the muddy floor, don’t post it to my Facebook wall!)
But once I got the thing connected to reliable Wi-Fi, tethered to my Samsung Note with Bluetooth, loaded with the appropriate apps (it’s like a smartphone in that respect), and properly fitted to my noggin, the futuristic fun started.
Here are five things I learned about Google Glass while wandering the expanse of TomorrowWorld.
You Need a Glassitter
Or a Glass sitter. Whether it’s to repel the ravers rushing zombie-style toward the scent of hot new technology or to make sure that while you’re Googling “Chattahoochee” in your right eye, you don’t run into a giant mushroom with your limited left, public Glass use requires another person living exclusively in the physical plane, not the Matrix. If I didn’t have my friend Liz to finish conversations I started before getting sucked into the dark crystal, or clear a wide path toward the next stage, I probably would have earned the “Glass-hole” title, and and fallen into a mud pit.
You Look Like You Ate the Brown Acid
A glassy-eyed gaze at something invisible, intent but somehow absent. As crazy as people looked talking to themselves on the street before Bluetooth was popular, is how twisted I looked while using Glass. At TomorrowWorld, though, no one seemed to notice.
Light? Sound? Bad.
I first whipped out the Glass during Nervo’s Main Stage set on Saturday afternoon, while the sisters slamming through their hits with the Hotlanta sun high in the sky, washing the field in white light. Not terribly conducive to seeing a tiny screen projection that requires a relatively opaque background, or voice-controlling it, for that matter. I spent a good five minutes facing the black-curtained bottom of a lighting tower (see above re: required Glassitter) just trying to see the screen, to no avail. We headed toward a tent for a darker scene.
(We later learned that a double-tap works just like the primary voice command “OK Glass” to select an option.)
Have the Thought, Take the Picture (or Video).
Wow, that sunset looks pretty behind the stage. Snap. People are rushing to the front as Breach drops “Jack!” Snap. Is that plastic fish spitting fire?! Snap. If “instant” is the goal, then Glass removes the few moments it takes to point and shoot your smartphone, making a tap all you need to capture something awesome happening in front of your eyes – and share it on your socials a second later. (Although there was considerable lag between me choosing to tweet a picture and it actually appearing in my feed – which could have been Wi-Fi-related.)
Welcome a New Social Video Parameter
The way Vine changed video by making it seven seconds, Glass changes it by making it un-editable. Take this golden 10 seconds of the bass tent going off for Zomboy, particularly a twirling hippie and crew of furry animals doing the dinosaur. Hilarious, yes, but could the timing have been better? Sure. What if it was interspersed with animated zombies? Glass limits you to what you’re seeing the way that you’re seeing it, leaving the focus exclusively on the experience and the person having it. Which in the age of edited, fully produced “live streams,” could open up a whole new world of festival content.