I was at a meeting and dinner with the lovely folks from Innovation Social last night.
Innovation Social is a gang of London-based Innovation Directors/Strategy Directors/Makers/Do-ers. We meet every so often and have field trips. In the past we've done the YouTube studios, Ravensbourne and Mother/The Trampery. Last night we went to Digitas/LBi to hear about their Astra Zeneca initiative the Digital Innovations Group. One of the Innovation Social guys turned up wearing Google Glass. And it made me feel really odd. So odd in fact that it nudged me out of my blogging-inertia and inspired me to try and capture what my initial feelings actually were.
It's amazingly disconcerting. Now that might just be because it's something new and unexpected but I think that it went deeper than that. Couple of initial reactions to it - first, its changes the way that you look at a person because it is so prominent on their eyes, you can see straight into their eyes, there's this hulking piece of coloured plastic getting in the way, and that feels odd. Eyes being windows to the soul and all that. Secondly it's disconcerting because you don't know what the Glass wearer is actually doing. They might be fully focused and engaged with you, they might be checking their work agenda for next week, they might be checking their train times home, they might be videoing you or taking photos of you but you just don't know. And that feels odd. It felt less odd when we were actually having a meeting because I think that we're all used to multi tasking discretely (I know we shouldn't!) whether its tweeting, checking texts or emails etc. But at the dinner afterward it felt like the wearer was always one step removed from actually being in the moment. From an etiquette perspective it felt like Glass should be removed when you are sitting down with friends for dinner.
Nate who works at Google has been wearing Glass for two weeks now. He says that he has had to get used to people starring and doing double-takes and also (shock horror!) talking to him on the tube. People regularly come up to him even when he is wearing headphones wanting to talk to him about Google Glass and try it on. Everyone is fascinated. The waiter in our Brick Lane curry house couldn't wait to try them on, but he had never heard of Google Glass, he had no idea what they were. Nate says that where the glasses have been invaluable have been with his young children so that he can take photos and videos far more easily and far more in the moment than with a camera or a phone. He also talked about the fact that he found the Innovation Social meeting location using maps on Glass as opposed to maps on a smartphone.
I tried them on and you do see the world differently.
It is such early days when it comes to this technology but from my inital exposure to it, it raised a lot of questions and feelings that I wasn't expecting. And it actually made me feel very uncomfortable.