Attending my first CES (Consumer Electronics Show) was a treat, but what made it really special was seeing the show through the lens of Google Glass. I’ll tell you how I got my hands on a pair at the end, but first lets talk about CES using images and video taken from Glass.
CES is a MASSIVE show that is held every January in Las Vegas:
All of the major tech players attend to show off their latest technologies. This year’s hot trends included curved TVs, augmented reality, 3D printers, as well as connected appliances and cars.
The event is held at the Las Vegas convention center, which is likely the only place big enough in Las Vegas to hold such an event. There were thousands of vendors with miles of exhibits to cover. My first day was spent in the North Hall where the auto exhibits were. With so much to see, you can spend a lot of time taking photos of everything. This is where Glass really shined. You only need to give a slow wink for Glass to fire up and take a photo of whatever you’re looking at. Judging whether the photo was a good one or not is difficult due to the small screen and inability to zoom in. I found this to be a problem when I took a picture of my room number so that I wouldn’t forget what room I was in. You can see that the quality is actually quite good when once the photo is transferred to a computer; however, viewing any sort of fine detail through Glass is near impossible.
On the second day I was there, I decided to take more video than photos.
Once a video or photo is taken, it so easy to share it on your social networks. You tap on the side of glass to bring up the image/video sharing options. Select whether you want to send to a contact in your address book, or share with a social network, then another tap to upload the image/video. One of the major advantages of taking photos with Glass vs. a smartphone is almost all of the images come out very clear. This is because your head is much more stable than an outstretched hand. After a while, it actually seems silly to think of having to look at a tiny 4” smartphone screen to take a photo.
Managing battery life is a huge drain. Glass gets about an hour to two hours of heavy use. Smartphones don’t fare much better, but at least you can get 3-5 hours of non-stop use on a single iPhone charge. I know this going in though, so I was prepared. I purposely chosen to bring my hiking backpack on this trip so I could use it as a mobile battery back during the show. Before I left my hotel room for the show each day I would put my full charged Macbook Pro in the water bladder of my hiking bag, snaking my iPhone and Glass power cords though the top of my bag. This ensured a constant charge to both phone and Glass throughout the show. As any good hiking bag would do, it also let me store up plenty of water and snacks to keep my own body charged. Even though the Las Vegas Convention Center had free WiFi, Glass refused to connect directly to it. I had to workaround it by connecting my iPhone to the WiFi network, then using Bluetooth and my phone’s personal hotspot to get Glass online. Bluetooth and hotspots are heavy power drains for a phone, so unless you’ve got a charging setup like mine above you’re looking at about an hour before both devices are dead.
A tip to my single friends… There is no better conversation starter than Glass. I was stopped at least a few times each hour by people who wanted to know what Glass was, or whether I liked it. As I was getting ready for my Coffee with Catalyst video interview, two attractive journalists from Germany approached me asking if they could take some photos of me wearing Glass for a German newspaper. Who know’s Ben Spiegel’s cousins may end up seeing me on a front page issue one day, but that’s besides the point. The real morale of the story is that Glass is a great way to pick up girls at an electronic show (if my wife is reading this, I gave the girls Jeff’s business card, so it’s ok, honey).
For all of Glass’s shortcomings, (poor battery life, difficulty connecting to WiFi, heavy integration with Google+) I found it to be a great companion at CES. It was fantastic at taking photos and videos, sharing to Twitter and G+ was a piece of cake, and it was just plain fun to show off… even if it does make me look like a cyborg sometimes.
Common Questions I hear about Glass:
Q) Where did you get it? The editors at Search Engine Watch had a few invites they were kind enough to share with their writers. As a columnist for them I jumped at the opportunity. Q) How much does it cost? $1,500. I may have gotten excited and purchased it before telling my wife about it. She asked me why I needed it, and the best I could come up with was, “I really want it cause it’s cool”. Q) What can you do with it? Pretty much anything you can do with a smartphone. Photos, videos, voice calls, video calls, driving directions, search on Google, check email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. There are only a handful of 3rd party apps available, but that’ll improve over time. The big advantage over a smartphone is not needing to check your phone every 5 minutes. Q) When will it be available to the public? My guess is as good as yours, but I would suspect they’ll have it ready for the public in time for this year’s holiday shopping in Q4. Q) Is it easy to bend/break? It’s actually quite sturdy. That said, I’m actually on my 2nd unit. My first unit arrived 2 weeks before Christmas. I had it roughly 24 hours before it randomly stopped working. Their customer support is really great, but it took me almost a week before they agreed to send me a new device, and another week to ship (because it was Christmas time I guess). This unit seems to be holding quite well, but they obviously have some kinks to work out before public release.
So there it is, CES though Glass!
If you want to get your hands on a pair you can sign up to receive an invite from Google, you can snag a pair (or invite codes) off eBay, or you can join me at Catalyst. Employees will have a chance to play with a Catalyst owned pair of Glass this month. Stop reading and leave a comment 🙂