How I used Google Glass: the future, but with monthly updates (part 1)
The frosted glass doors on the 11th floor of Google’s New York headquarters swing open and a woman meets me. There is nothing unusual in it. Slender, of medium height, bright inquisitive eyes. She leans over to shake my hand, and I suddenly pay attention to a strange device that looks like glasses: a thin strip of aluminum and plastic with a strange prismatic lens. Google Glass.
What seemed a miracle a few years ago, then turned into something more than an experiment, and now it is starting to look like a real product. For something that can fall into the hands (more precisely, on the heads) of consumers at the end of this year. A device of a completely new kind that can be worn without getting tired, designed to take photos and communicate in a completely natural way. This is an anti-smartphone specifically designed to revolutionize our understanding of interacting with mobile devices.
But as soon as I freed myself from the handshake and studied the bizarre device, I had one single question in my head: who wants to wear this in public?
The Glass project was started “about three years ago” by an engineer named Babak Parviz as part of the X Lab project, a laboratory responsible, among other things, for creating a car without a driver and neural networks. Unlike these epic sci-fi developments, Glass came to life much earlier than everyone expected. At last year’s Google I / O conference, the company provided developers with the opportunity to participate in an early testing program called Explorer Program, and just a few weeks ago this program was expanded to provide potential U.S. users with an opportunity to tell how they would like to use this device. Something like an aggressive beta test, so typical of Google.
I myself was already close to the points beta test. But first, I had questions.
I sat in a surprisingly nondescript, by Google standards, room, opposite the two most important people in the Glass project - product director Steve Lee and chief designer Isabelle Olson. Who, no matter how these people can talk about their brainchild in all its glory. He is excited and cheerful, with large bright eyes, in which a spark is lit every time he explains something about the Glasses. Isabelle is more restrained, but with incredible ardor talks about the product. She also has very red hair. Before the conversation began, she and I had a heated argument about what kind of color is called “navy blue”. She is in love with design - this love seems to be highly contagious on Google, and it shows.
Although I am primarily interested in the design issue, in the course of the conversation I begin to understand why Glasses exist at all, certainly not in order to just become a fashionable little girl. Steve is trying to explain this to me.
“Why do we even work on Glasses? We all know that people love to stay in touch. Relatives constantly send text messages to each other, fans check the score of their favorite team. If you travel often, you need to be aware of current information about your flight. Techniques allow you to do this. But the problem is that we are constantly distracted by it. Suppose you are a parent and you need to film the performance of your children, their game of football or music. Or your friends will hold the camera to capture the moment. And guess what? He left. You just missed an awesome game. ” Isabelle intervenes: “Did you see how Louis Cay (a well-known American comedian - approx. Translator) joked while addressing his parents: 'Are your children in reality in higher resolution'? ". Everyone laughed, but that's how it is.
People themselves created a new problem after the iPhone was released and the subsequent mobile revolution: no one pays attention to what he actually does. Everyone seemed to constantly look somewhere down. These are amazing moments when your favorite band is playing, or when your child is reading poetry, removed by the lens of a device that is between you and reality or is interrupted by continuous notifications. Signals from the outside world constantly interfere, no more, no less, with your personal life.
Steve continues. “We thought that if we put technology closer to the senses? Will it allow you to get information faster and communicate with other people, but in a way that does not bother you if you do not use it? That's what brought us to the idea of Glasses. ” I can’t stop looking at the lens near his eye. “This is a new wearable device. A very ambitious way to solve this problem, but this is really the reason why we are working on Glasses. ”
I understood. We are all constantly distracted. No one pays attention. We miss all the fun. Of course, this is a problem, but this is a new problem, and this is not the first time we are distracted by technology. Hell, we used to think that because of the radio, cars would fly off into a ditch. So maybe we can cope with what distracts us now?
Maybe, but obviously, the Glass team is not going to wait for an answer to this question. Isabelle tells me how she was carried away by this concept. “Once I went to work - I live in San Francisco, but I work in Mountain View and a bus goes there; I went to a stop and saw how a line of 10-15 people stood like this, "she tilted her head and pretended to be buried in a smartphone. “I do not want to do this, understand? I do not want to be such a person. And then it dawned on me: OK, we need to master this work. This is bold. This is crazy. But we can make something really cool out of it. ”
Indeed, it sounds bold and crazy, especially after Steve announced that the company is going to release the final device at the end of this year .
Google level design
Forget about ordinary glasses for a moment. Forget about hipster glasses. Forget about John Lennon's round glasses. Forget “The Boys of Summer” (the once popular Eagles song, Don Henley. It has the line “You got your hair combed back and your sunglasses on, baby” - translator comment); forget how she looked with her hair licked back and wifarers (Wayfarers - a very fashionable model of glasses in the 80s - approx. translator). Pretend these things don't exist. Just for fun.
The design of the Points is really beautiful. Elegant, sophisticated. They look earthly and a little alien. Futuristic, but modern - as if an artifact from the 60s, invented by someone who was trying to imagine what will happen in 2013. This is an Apple tier design. No, in some ways it even surpasses everything that Apple has done so far. He is bold, inventive, playful, but at the same time extremely simple. Materials are pleasantly felt in the hand and on the head, solid, but surprisingly light. Comfortable. If Google continues to do so, we will soon be saying something like “this is Google-level design.”
They even approached the layout wisely.
The whole system consists of only a few parts. The main body is made of soft-touch plastic and contains a “brain”, a battery and a counterweight (which is located near your ear). There is also a thin strip of metal that forms an arc of glasses, with the usual arches and pads for the nose, which allow the device to be conveniently located on your face.
Google introduced the first version of this device in several color options. If not to show off, then it: gray, orange, black, white and blue. I poke fun at Steve and Isabelle about how these colors will be called more creatively. “Is gray graphite?” Wait, don’t talk. I will guess. " I went on the list. “Tomato?” Onyx? Dust, though not — Avalanche and Sea Breeze. ” Steve and Isabelle laugh. “Not bad,” said Isabelle.
In fact: Shale, Mandarin, Coal, Cotton, Heavenly. I was close.
This conversation results in a discussion on how important the color of the product that you wear daily. “This is one of those things that you think about:“ ah, what difference does it make ”, but that’s not so. We began to realize how people get attached to their device ... Largely because of its color, "says Isabel.
But there is something to it. When I saw the Glasses in various colors, and then tried on tangerines and celestial, I started more emotionally relate to those that are more “mine.” This is not how you relate to a pair of your favorite glasses, but evokes similar feelings. They should feel exactly yours.
Isabelle came to the project and Google from the design studio Yves Behar (Yves Behar's design studio). She joined the Glass team when their product was a pair of wondrous white-framed glasses with comically large boards glued on both sides. She shows me a Chanel box with an original prototype inside, its prismatic lens dangling limply near the right eye, a gray ribbon stretched from one side to the other. Experimental version.
Isabelle's job was to turn the Glasses into something that you can wear, even if you're not sure you want to wear them. She understands that there are still problems with this.
The version of Explorer, which Google will send, has a replaceable sun glass that can be easily removed and put on, and worth noting, with this glass Glasses look more familiar. I also learned that the device can be easily disassembled into parts by disconnecting the frame from the "brains" and the lens located on the right. The point is that you can attach another frame suitable for the Points, which will completely change their appearance, while maintaining all the same functionality. Steve and Isabelle do not disclose whether they work with brands like Ray Ban or Tom Ford (I wear glasses from this company), but the New York Timesrecently wrote that Google is negotiating with Warby Parker (a company producing glasses that sells exclusively through the Internet - approx. translator), and I believe that. Obviously, the company understands that you need to make this thing not just wearable - you need people to want to wear it. For me, the glasses look beautiful, but I still don’t want to put them on.