Getting Glass: Learning To See
July 30, 2013
by Adina Daar, Research Consultant, Sachs Insights
This week we take a look at the experience of picking up Google Glass from the Google offices in New York.
Many Glass Explorers have already written about their experiences picking up Glass at the designated and built-for-purpose Google Glass office in New York or San Francisco. If I were to sum up the experience, I would say it was like visiting an Optometrist at Disney World in that every step of my journey was planned and accounted for from the second I walked into the office. It is only in retrospect that I can truly appreciate the effort and work that went into creating the initial pick up of Glass experience and the challenge that Google has in front of them if they plan to unleash this technology on the world.
Light, airy, modern, open, and organized; the Glass space was imbedded with designated spaces to talk, learn, play, and relax. This contributed to the sense of structure, but also the feeling of open play. There were enough people (other people picking up Glass and Google employees) but not so many to create an overwhelming environment. This helped control the level of ambient noise (I felt like I was alone with my friend and guide most of the time) and high empty ceilings acted as a backdrop for Glass to perform at its best.
I was assigned a guide named Shawn who was with me the entire time (about 1 hour) and was the point person for introducing me to the device, teaching me how to use it, and answering any questions I had (which was a lot of questions). He was with me almost from the moment I walked in the door to the moment I left. There wasn’t a question Shawn didn’t know the answer to, even questions about other products (such as the Pixel Chrome Book). Most importantly, he created a space for friendly dialogue and conversation, which went a long way to shape the experience that I had at the office that day.
The most important aspect of the experience was the feeling of freedom and control that I was given throughout the hour. First of all, I had already picked the ‘Shale’ color when I ordered online, but I had a chance to revisit that decision – already a win because ‘Charcoal’ looked much better. Throughout the session, I was given several opportunities like this to make decisions. In each key task, Shawn would lead in by saying something along the lines of “This is your experience, would you like to do this or that next?” – it felt more like he was equipping me with future knowledge rather than going through rote procedure. This aspect in particular resulted in a highly personalized and flexible experience.
I’ve learned that all good magic requires planning and timing. Looking back on the experience, I can now imagine all of the moving parts and small details that went into ensuring a positive and ultimately magical experience. I was in the office for exactly an hour, but it neither felt too short or too long. It was perfectly timed. I remember specifically at one point, Shawn pointed to a bag full of accessories that was hanging behind my head and that I hadn’t noticed was there before. This reaffirms that the most magical things, are things that never seem to happen at all – there was never a barrier, never an obstruction, never a glitch or a stop in the process. It was seamless, and I was still thinking about it hours later. That’s magic folks!
Part of the Glass Explorer experience includes gaining access to an exclusive network of Google employees and other Glass Explorers to share experiences, learn about features, and hear about the latest news and updates. This is proving to be incredibly helpful as a resource and I have found myself looking on the site daily to stay up to date with all of the information coming out of the trial.
Contrary to what people might expect, it is not the technical features that rank as the #1 topic on the Google Glass discussion board. Actually, the most frequent and popular conversations are about how to share the Glass experience with others. The issue of ‘How do you explain Glass?’ and ‘How often do you share Glass?’ is full of people trying to get a handle on how to introduce this new type of technology to people who are eager and curious to try it out, but have very little to base their expectations on. This is a challenge I am very familiar with.
I quickly learned that just handing a pair of Google Glass to a person and saying ‘try them out’ often leads to disappointment and failure as a first experience. How do you condense the full hour of information and active learning that I experience back at the Google office into one minute? While there often isn’t enough time for to do very much during a spontaneous try on, I’ve found that setting a person up with one task, for example ‘take a picture’ or ‘get directions to Starbucks’ is usually enough to give them a sense of the feeling and capabilities of Glass in a way that usually results in success rather than confusion and disappointment.
The Challenge Ahead
My experience was definitely akin to one you would have with any other luxury product. I expect that we will shortly learn whether this will be reflective of the overall strategy for distributing Glass or if it is slotted for a more mainstream approach. While I was lucky enough to have a full hour with a dedicated Google Team member, the people I share Glass with don’t have access to all of that and they experience Glass in a few minutes at most. The success of Glass hinges on the success of that first interaction, which has to be a positive one if Google wants to encourage uptake. If it remains a luxury product, then I expect this model experience will remain sustainable. If this is a mainstream product, than I look forward to seeing the way this experience is adapted to fit with the constraints of a plug and play device. Hopefully it will be as magical for everyone as it was for me.