Lourdes student reflects on Google Glass, takes grief
Lourdes High School senior Robert Miller was roaming an aisle at Walmart recently when a woman shopper, noticing his distinctive eyewear, impatiently asked whether she was being recorded. Miller assured her he wasn't but agreed to take off the...
Lourdes High School senior Robert Miller was roaming an aisle at Walmart recently when a woman shopper, noticing his distinctive eyewear, impatiently asked whether she was being recorded.
Miller assured her he wasn't but agreed to take off the offending glasses nonetheless.
"Yeah, I've had some soccer moms really look angry, like, 'You need to take that off,'" Miller recalled.
Such is the life of a beta tester for Google Glass. Since being selected as a Glass explorer, Miller, 17, has quickly learned how the new technology can make a person both an object of fascination and the subject of the occasional scornful stare.
Still, Miller considers himself to be among the lucky few. Becoming an explorer was a chance not only to use the wearable computer but to be among the first to do so. He heard about the opportunity from his biology teacher, who applied to become an explorer. Miller decided to apply, too, and was accepted into the program while his teacher was not.
Google reportedly has selected only 10,000 people nationwide to field test the device. Miller is probably the only high school student in southeast Minnesota to get a chance to test drive the frame.
"It's a very cool piece of technology. It's doing things that no one else has done," Miller said.
Still, several critics have predicted the product's doom since its release last year, saying its potential for creating an army of half-distracted, socially unplugged misfits will be a turnoff to consumers. Google has been so sensitive to the negative perceptions that it recently released a list of dos and don'ts for its users, an etiquette tip sheet. Rule No. 1: Don't be creepy or rude.
The headgear is scheduled to hit the consumer market later this year, with one report saying as early as April.
Miller said his experiences have taught him to be selective about when and where he wears the frame. He'll wear it at the school library, while driving around town and at home. So far, his experiences have reinforced his view of the technology's upsides.
A developer of Android apps and an aspiring entrepreneur, Miller said the product has the potential to be an important tool in any number of fields. Firefighters will be able to pull up floor plans for burning buildings. Doctors will be able to call up information and vital statistics on patients. Earlier this week, the New York Police Department announced it was looking into using Glass as a crime-fighting tool.
The privacy concerns — such as photographing and recording people unawares — are, he believes, overblown. Similar complaints were made about smartphones several years ago, and that didn't stop them from becoming the nearly ubiquitous product it has become. Besides, videotaping and recording people on the sly is not as easy as one might think.
"I think it's kind of silly because at the end of the day, I have to put this on and go, 'OK, Glass, record a video. Or OK, Glass, take a picture,'" he said. "There's even a light that comes on when I'm running a video or taking a picture."
He said he uses Glass to take notes, to play games, to find directions to a destination, to send and receive text messages — even to watch a movie, although the frame heats up after an hour of continuous video-streaming.
Still, he does not wear it everywhere.
"I really don't wear it out in the public that much because of the social stigma behind it," he said.
The privilege of being a Glass explorer isn't cheap. Miller paid $1,500 to buy the product and has the option of returning the product after two months. He says he plans to keep it. He also provides feedback to Google once in a while about his experiences and how others are reacting to the device.
"It has so many functions, so many possibilities you can't imagine until you put in on," he said.