Products & Marketing

Product positioning and tech marketing

Unboxing Google Glass

After a second try, I finally got into the Google Glass Explorer program. I tried last year but waited too long to apply (about 36 hours after the application process opened). This time, I moved faster.

As not a lot of people have the opportunity to get to use Glass (I am lucky, my employer is paying for me to explore its use for M2M and IoT), I thought I would share my initial experiences getting—and unboxing—Glass to help those considering entering the program later.

The First Step: Registering for the Explorer Program

Registering for and buying Glass is a bit different, so I thought I would start here. It turns out you will need to link Glass to a Gmail account. As such, I strongly recommend using a Gmail account when you apply to the program. I think Google should add these instructions in the registration process, perhaps if it detects your email is not one that they manage at Gmail or Google Apps.

Application Approval

GlassProgramSmallMy application got approved about 10 days later, via email. The email contained a sixteen-digit alpha purchase code that was very obviously place. It also contains a 16-digit numeric unique ID in much smaller font in the email footer. Keep track of this, as you will need to enter it if you call the Glass Help Center.

I made the mistake of using a corporate email account (one not based on Google Apps). This created a bit of a problem for me, one that required a call to the Glass Help Center to resolve. I can say that the Glass Help Center staff are quite friendly and responsive. Working with them is more akin to a call with a Professional Services team than a call to a typical call center or corporate IT help desk.

Purchasing Glass

It turns out that you can only buy Glass with Google Wallet. As such, your experience will be much easier if you 1) apply with a Gmail account and 2) have a Google Wallet for this account set up in advance. If so, you need only click on the Get Glass URL and proceed. You will be prompted to confirm which Gmail account you want to use, then re-authenticate to Wallet to make your purchase. The entire process should take less than five clicks and one password to complete.

I did it a bit backwards. As the Glass Help Center let me know I would need to have Wallet setup, I was able to log into my Gmail, register for Wallet and add a Payment Method before re-starting my purchase. Once I go my purchase reference code reset, I was able to go through this process pretty quickly (it would have been less fun to stop, setup Wallet, then re-start).

I chose to purchase basic Glass (I picked the Shale color). I did have the option of a few Hipster-like frames that could support prescription lenses. However, I do not wear glasses so I went for the minimalist—and least expensive—options. I did get the free–detachable–Active Shades (essentially Terminator-style sunglass shade). Get these. They are incredibly useful if you are looking at the viewer screen in bright sunlight (a rarity in Boston).

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Shipping and Delivery

The time from purchase to delivery was amazingly fast: I purchased around 11am, got an email notice that Google was handing off my purchase to UPS around five hours later, and received the package in Boston the next morning by 10am. This next-day shipping was included in the $1,500 price.

What arrives will be a four-pound box about 2x the width and 1.5x the length of a shoebox. Coincidentally, my Glass came on the same day as my new Nexus 7. However as the Nexus was uncharged, I used my iPhone to take all of the following photos:

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Unboxing Glass

I waited until the end of the workday to open the box (I admit the engineer in me wanted to start right away).

Upon opening the UPS box and packing I was presented with a white box with a San Serif Glass logo and XE on the side. The packaging was very similar to what you would see with a high-end product (akin to Lytro and first iPad, but a bit nicer). The back of the box is black (so is the inner cover):

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The Archive Shades are in their own box (and could be shipped separated based on my initial email receipt). They come in their own “Glass” branded felt sleeve:

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Opening the Glass box reveals a translucent paper screen cover (mysterious?!):

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This cover easily comes off, revealing the Glass with the only written instructions for use that comes in the packaging:

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Lifting this off reveals an interesting felt pouch with an armored base—yes, an armored felt pouch. As the ticket explains, this is intended to protect your Glass when you pack it away (the armored shell makes the pouch 1.75” deep:

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Underneath this pouch is a black card with your ear bud:

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And underneath this is your USB 3.0 cable with detachable electric plug. The cord appears to be 36” long:

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Also included are some replacement nose pads and a funny FAQ. One example:

Q: Can I use Glass while operating a jackhammer?
A: Use caution.

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Charging Glass

When I plugged Glass into charge, it automatically booted up without me pressing the ON button. This can also take up to 30 seconds at times. However, it charges rather quickly (about the same speed that a smartphone charges, much faster than a tablet does).

Setting Up Glass

IMG_1875You will need either an Android or iOS phone or tablet to setup Glass as you will need to install the MyGlass App (iTunes version, Google Play version). I chose to use my iPhone as I did not want to walk around with an Android Tablet in my hand and Google Glass on my face. However, I may pair the phone to my Tablet as well as I experiment with Glass a bit more.

I definitely recommend you turn BlueTooth and your Personal HotSpot on BEFORE launching the MyGlass App and starting the pairing process. As I learned first-hand, it will save you the mess of aborting the process, turning these on (I keep them off to save power), and re-starting the process. I would recommend Google improve the App to detect these settings and notify you to exit and turn them before continuing to device pairing (unfortunately, iOS now forbids apps from turning these settings on for you—a now-needed security precaution in today’s world).

Unfortunately I could not take photos through Glass while I was setting it up (not unexpected). You can see videos of the setup process here, on the Glass YouTube Channel. I admit that setting up Glass created the opportunity for me to imitate Fred Armisen’s infamous Glass skit on SNL. I was very glad I could do this in the privacy of my house, doing it in the office would have created more than a few laughs.

Using Glass

I will now spend the next week playing around with Glass to fully understand the UX before I start thinking about how I would designing how an Glass app would work. However, I can say from my first hour of using Glass that it IS a very different experience, one that takes some getting accustomed to. I want to try to remember this experience so I can design applications that will be immediately useable from Day 1. (I did try to see if I could get actions of Glass to trigger IFTTT–alas, there are no Glass triggers yet).

This does not surprise me. I consider Glass on of Clayton Christensen’s classic disruptive innovations. While it is behind in some areas (the camera is not as good as a standard smartphone, usability is still a work in progress), it provides other capabilities nothing else does.

Final Note: Commercial Applicability of Glass

I know many people think Glass is not a commercially viable product. Some cite price point, others appearance, others limited availability. However, I believe that coupling of SDK from the people who brought us the Operating System with fastest adoption in history with a wide range of capabilities (POV-based camera and microphone, hands-free operation and telephony, voice recognition and Internet access) opens the door to some very interesting augment reality-based applications.

I have always thought the most beneficial Glass apps would be those that mapped to real-life activities—but streamlining them by eliminating the need to use your hands to record information and augmenting them by capturing information from your direct POV and combining this with other information. This could be provide enough benefit to justify Glass’ not-insignificant cost in wide range of business situations, from capturing the vision of a contract artisan or craftsperson (my first idea) to a whole new set of ideas I am now exploring.

Glass is a trademark of Google Inc.

Rebel Mouse Makes It Easier for Others to Understand You

Article first published as Rebel Mouse Makes It Easier for Others to Understand You on Technorati.

Last week Paul Berry, former CTO of the Huffington Post, launched his new Rebel Mouse social aggregation service. My first reaction was, “Oh great! Just what I need, another social media service.” However, as I like to keep abreast on new technologies and platforms can change how we work and live, I thought I would check it out.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

A Bit of an Epiphany

I wasn’t surprised by Rebel Mouse’s feature set (although it is quite rich: not only can you aggregate social streams, you can add posts, invite contributors, and analyze all of your traffic—giving you a new blogging and publication option beyond Tumblr, WordPress and SquareSpace). What I was surprised by was a more visceral reaction:

Rebel Mouse took my social media stream and made it much easier to grok.

One Dimension Is No Longer Enough

Twitter greatest strength, its simplicity, is also a weakness. Twitter’s one-dimensional, time-based streams tend to get overwhelmed by noise-of-the-day. Step back through someone’s Twitter stream and you will see clusters of Tweets about Yammer, then Tweets about the Facebook IPO, then Tweets about Instagram, etc. Even worse, the stream consists almost entirely of fonts of single size (only using color to differentiate hyperlinks).

Facebook’s Timelines improve on this by adding inline photos and videos, expanding upon the amount of text you have, etc. However, it is still a one-dimensional (time-based) stream. Tumblr is the same (albeit prettier).

These approaches present information in a way that requires a lot of conscious effort to consume. This was fine when social media services were small. However, it not scalable to size of social networks today.

Rebel Mouse: Moving Beyond One Dimension

Rebel Mouse, does not just aggregate your content; it presents it in way that makes it easy for others to subconsciously consume. This is not only achieved by its use of the Masonry layout (now better known as the “Pinterest-style UI”). Rebel Mouse adds some clever UI design elements that let you easily—and instantly—understand the topic of the post, see what you added social content, and differentiate this from comments, shared source material, etc.:

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This takes what the best of what people love about Twitter (simplicity) with Pinterest (visual browsing) and Tumblr and WordPress (blogging and analytics) and puts them together in a single package. This looks simple, but it is BIG accomplishment. The value is clear: If I wanted someone to rapidly and easily get a perspective on what interests me, I would recommend they first go to the my Rebel Mouse page (rather than my other of my social media pages):

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What Comes Next

In the “Post-Facebook IPO World” it is now more important than ever to ask what comes next (and how this creates business value). An obvious way Rebel Mouse can make money is charge users for value-add services: vanity domains for individuals, pages for corporations, expanded analytics, eCommerce integration, etc. It looks like most of these are already on Rebel Mouse’s (publicly-disclosed) radar.

However, the foundation Rebel Mouse has achieved (i.e., subconsciously consumption of mass content from multiple streams) opens two additional doors.

  1. It could create a fantastic Discovery Service. Imagine an easy-to-consume Rebel Mouse page aggregating content on a specific business topic (e.g., mobile), products, or even personalities. I am pretty sure I would subscribe to and read many such pages, many times each day to discover new information.
  2. It could create an exchange to deliver incredibly relevant ads. Furthermore, these ads would be more valuable than other socially driven ads as you are much more likely to be in a purchasing mindset if viewing a business topic, product or personality page, than your are if you are just checking in on your friends.

It will be great to see these and other services come to fruition. Until then, I recommend requesting a page and grabbing your name—before someone else does.