Yu-Ting Su on her "first date" with Glass

Oh the things Glass can (and can’t) do

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A summary of the first assignment given to the USC students enrolled in the Glass Journalism course. While some own the device, others were completely new to the wearable. For this assignment, the students had to have a minimum of 48 hours with Glass and write about their experiences, as well as review the device.

Yu-Ting Su on her "first date" with Glass

Yu-Ting Su on her “first date” with Glass

The first time using Glass can be like a first date.

“Putting on Glass is like dating someone you’ve never been in contact with before. Feeling so excited, imagining all the different situations that might happen with Glass before you’ve met, surprised by ‘his’ characteristics when you finally meet,” student Yu-Ting Su said.

Like a first date, using Glass may be awkward at first. It takes some time before the conversation between Glass and its user flows smoothly. You might have some expectations and things might not turn out exactly the way you planned.

Students in USC Annenberg’s Glass Journalism class, ranging from one-year Glass owners to first-time users, soon realized this. Glass doesn’t function the same way as Siri. You can’t ask Glass any question that pops in your head and get a response. You have to ask commands in a certain sequence. With Glass, there is a learning curve.

Public Reaction

Not one student would deny that Glass is a conversation starter. Glass has the ability to turn a wallflower into the most popular kid in the room.

Many students were skeptical of going out in public with Glass for this reason.

Jessie Wong admitted she didn’t use Glass much at first because she was too timid to go out in public with it. Yuan Feng also reported feeling uncomfortable with the stares that accompany Glass. Su worried about her safety while wearing such a rare and expensive device in public.

Other students embraced the attention.

Sinduja Rangarajan generally enjoyed when people asked her about Glass. When she didn’t want to talk about it, she simply took it off.

David Carr, a Glass explorer who has owned the device for more than a year, has  “essentially become a walking spokesperson for Google,” but he doesn’t mind.

Not one student described a truly negative reaction to Glass. Vinnie Magro’s experience comes closest when someone told him, “I do not give my permission to be recorded, Google overlords.” But, he is pretty sure that person was just joking.

Strengths

Clayton tries to instruct a new user to take a picture.

Clayton tries to instruct a new user to take a picture.

Hand Glass over to a new user and it’s almost guaranteed that they will take a picture. Students agreed that the ease of snapping a picture and first-person point of view is one of Glass’ strengths. Taking photos is effortless and provides a perspective that a digital camera can’t.  Thanks to the camera, Jenna Pittaway envisioned opportunities for content creation.

Even consuming photos with Glass is more intimate.

“With my iPhone, I knowingly hold a device and flip through photos,” Sara Clayton said. “With Glass, however, I didn’t feel that there was a device between me and my photos.”

The hands-free design is another positive for Glass. Wong was able to speak with her mom on the phone via Glass while biking. Rangarajan thought the controls were simple and straightforward.

Magro even skateboards wearing Glass, just narrowly escaping injury at times.

“The ability to send a message without even taking out my phone is too good an opportunity to pass up,” he said.

Weaknesses

"Google double-posted everything I shared...including some blank screens. Embarrassing!" -Pittaway

“Google double-posted everything I shared…including some blank screens. Embarrassing!” -Pittaway

While Glass is full of potential, students recognized the shortcomings of Glass. Complaints ranged from problems of convenience to problems with the overall experience.

Some students complained about the brightness of the sun while using Glass, hair interfering with the touch pad, and inability to fold up to put Glass away. Other problems include short battery life, difficulty canceling commands, and a lack of a zoom function.

Ian Whelan had high expectations when he wore Glass to a concert, but was underwhelmed by the experience. The quality of photos and videos was poor and the battery life didn’t last.

“As far as the best device to take to a concert goes, I’m sticking with my Nexus 5,” Whelan said.

Pittaway struggled to set up Glass with her iPhone and accidentally double posted on social media due to a bug in the Twitter app for Glass. When she wanted to cancel a post, she wished Glass responded to the simple voice command, “stop,” “no,” or “cancel.”  Rangarajan almost sent her husband an embarrassing message, but canceled it just in time.

The Future 

While students acknowledged that Glass isn’t perfect, each maintained a positive outlook for the future of Glass.

Whelan was hoping for “a device that lets you never miss out on life around you because you’re fumbling with your smartphone,” but Glass is just not there yet.

For Glass to be truly successful, students suggested a cheaper, less intrusive device with better apps.

Su’s comparison of using Glass and going on a first date puts the experience in perspective.

“You will experience some low points when you guys spend more time together,” she said. “But then you will learn to get used to all the good and bad and eventually you will love Glass in your own way.”

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On September 15, 2014
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