It started with my first 3 hour session with my new Glass at the beginning of 2014. I sat down, worked on my mac and forgot to look or to touch my phone, you know, to look at the time. It occurred to me that having the time constantly inside my eye, as a layer between me and reality, can be pretty cool. It also made me aware that I tilt my head up and down 20-30 degrees many many times a day (the Glass turns on&off) and that the time is just a group of pixels and it can be anything else really.
A few months later, while walking into a meeting, I forgot I had my Glass on (yes, it happens) and saw the time in the sky. Imagine, you look at the sky and know the time, it’s ridiculous (in a good way!). That was the first time I realized I would agree having smart, computerized contact lenses that will augment my reality. Contact lenses. When it’s in your eye you learn things faster than when you read them from a book or from a screen that is in your hand. You start knowing feeling like Neo from time to time. Suddenly you know Kong Fu. No, I’m kidding. But you do get to understand things that are in your eye FASTER.
You have to understand, exploring Glass is not something that happens when you ask an Explorer to try their Glass for 3 minutes. Yes, you take a picture, realize you can speak to it and give commands, but really GETTING IT takes exploring to do, it takes days, weeks, months. And no, it doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it immediately, it means that you should take it with you and see what happens. It’s like a box of chocolates, literally.
Once, I went to an event where my mother read some of her poems in front of a big crowd, I took my Glass and started recording. Being an ex photojournalist I realized that my head is the camera and my body is literally the tripod itself. You know how weird that is that your body is a tripod? You need to start mastering your body movement with the expertise of a belly dancer.
Last month I had a motorcycle accident. A guy drove in red light and I almost died. Long story short, after an accident you are boosted with adrenalin and you’re in pain and you are not really “in charge” of everything you say and think because of the shock. It so happens to be that I had my Glass in my bag, so shortly after I pulled myself off the road, i put them on them and started recording. I knew I don’t need to worry about remembering anything or writing, I just need to be who I am, ask people the right questions, do the logistics and be me and the Glass will document everything. Handsfree. It was a huge feeling of release, I really felt good that I could use them. Documenting a post-accident is a big thing when it comes to insurance.
You know what else happens? People start staring at you. No one likes people staring at them, but when I wear Glass in public I’m really ok with it, even more than that. Not only do they stare, people come and talk with me all the time, men, women, teens, kids. They want to know, they want to understand. In Israel it happens all the time, Israelis are fascinated with Google Glass and when it happens, I take them off and let them try’em, almost every time. Explaining won’t do it, I just let them try, show them the timeline, the cards, the voice commands, the taking pictures or sharing on G+ or Facebook. I really enjoy giving people to opportunity to try them on, there isn’t a day that I’m with them that I don’t give it at least to one person. It’s priceless! why? Cause when you see the amazement look they get, or the big WOW that comes out of their mouths, that this piece-of-science-fiction-from-outer-space-out-of-the-movies just became a reality for them- I wish I could record their reaction every time I let someone try, I’m telling you, the joy is priceless. And hey, give it to kids, to play Tennis or the Fruit Ninja game, you got them hooked till the battery dies.
And then we had the Gaza war in the summer, so I got alerts on the Glass. Once I was with a friend, another Glass explorer. So we shot this short video, with 2 pairs of Glass
It’s also an ice breaker, have no doubt about it. People come to me and their inner child comes forward. So you start talking with them. I met an investor like this once (actually more than once). Our first conversation out of no where lasted an hour and a half. 2 months later we met again, we sat down for 2 hours. Glass and my project. Intense talks.
Moving on. When you want to work on a wearable project and don’t have the device to build upon, to execute your idea for a startup, you just can’t. It’s not like a phone, there’s no simulator, you can’t use your experience from other media devices for Glass. In the past 10 months I’ve spent hundreds of hours on understanding the interface of Glass, use cases, designing interfaces for various apps for the project I’m working on, each is different, each is unique. Some times I used theGoogle Glass PlayGround to use their templates, and other times I started from scratch. More than once I was facing an uncharted territory, where I had no one to learn from, no one to copy from, no history, no test cases, blank Glass cards where I need to invent how the experience will be cause I went where no one has gone before. That’s exploration!
I also realized that consumer Glass apps are nice, but that’s not where the big shabang will come from. As I see it, consumer is a nice to have right now. The innovation and the first ROIs will come from b2b and enterprise software. Sure, make an app to track your running or use your GPS for something. But hey, compare it with apps that make first responders save more lives, or technicians do better jobs and faster (save time and money), or doctors giving better treatment in hospitals (and reduce law suits against them on the way), or making security in the streets or airports better or allowing you to manage your storage place or car fleet business with a few blinks of an eye and some voice commands, and I can go on, pilots, skippers, security companies, I have real examples…
Movie makers. You haven’t seen real intimacy in a movie till you’ve seen a real life, point-of-view movie. It’s not like holding a camera, it’s BEING the camera itself and really trying to forget it’s there. It’s not a GoPro you put on your chest or above the helmet. It’s your eyes. Your eyes. I once shot a short video with my ex girlfriend. I told her I’m starting the video, we were talking, than she went to the kitchen, came back to the room, than came near me and we kissed, and my Glass was shooting it. It’s phenomenal if you’re a director or director of photography.
Developers + UX people. 2-3 months ago I sat down in a UX lecture in Tel Aviv. 80% women, 20% men. It was great, as I am used to a scene of 95% men and 5% women who code. Anyway, 100% of them never touched a wearable. I don’t mean they haven’t tried (most of them haven’t), I mean they haven’t set their mind to look at the future. BIG mistake. If you start working on wearables (as a coder or a UXer) today, you will have the lead very soon. . Wearables have a big sign saying FUTURE on them and if you haven’t started you should, now.
Another reason to go in this field is that the big boys are starting to look at it. Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Intel, AT&T, IBM, Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Sony and others. They are starting to research and develop and they have their scouts. They are coming.
Community and venture capital . In 2014 alone there have been roughly 10 wearable related events in Israel, and I’m not talking about IoT. I was in charge of a wearable hackathon for teens in the city of Modi’in (half way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) and a TED-like event at DLD Tel Aviv in mid September and I run Wearable Valley, which is the largest online community for wearables in Israel and probably the only one at this point. Other hackathons brought hundreds of developers but I can tell you as a fact that Israel, at least at this point in time, is very much behind Silicon Valley in number of startups in this field and in investments in the field. As far as I know, zero VCs in Israel invested in a wearable startup and if I’m wrong, it’ll be a maximum of 1 or 2. Private investors? Maybe, but that information isn’t public and the companies don’t share. Conversations with VCs in Israel have taught me that they have no knowledge in this field and are not willing to risk money, that’s sad. But, to my knowledge, there are a few companies that are in the process of raising money from the Israeli Chief Scientist Office.
Complaints about Glass? I got plenty, we all have. The batteries are a sad joke (though getting better). The Aluminum thingy that foils and just ruins the Glass is a mega fail. The constant reboots in earlier versions of the XE (Glass now runs on Android KitKat and the versions are called XE with version numbers). The Glass overhitting. These complaints, HEY GOOGLE, you want companies to adopt Glass, right? so they need to be business grade asap, no matter what apps you bring on.
Other than that, I’m not too worried about this, they’re still a sort of a prototype, and each developer and entrepreneur will tell you that they’re making their Glassware (Glass software) agnostic to the brand and hardware, or at least plan to, like developing mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows.
I can go on, I’ve met amazing people in Israel and Glass developers in the US, through Google Plus, had so many fascinating conversations I’l share at a later date, I just needed to unpack these thoughts now that 10 months have gone by and I’ve learned so many things.
You are more than welcome to ask me anything about Glass and the wearable industry (I know of many startups and products in this field its ridiculous). I’m also available for hire as a consultant or analyst or per projects, or as a speaker. You can find me at Ello too. If you are an investor and you want to invest in this field, please contact me about my own venture.