Right around the first of the year we were sitting around a table at a Chinese restaurant and Gary says “We need a vision, a "wow factor" at our conference. What if we get Google Glass and have you wear it while you’re there? Then we can give it away on Friday night!” Many brilliant ideas start at as a conversation over Chinese food. I get to play with Google Glass, review it, work with it, talk about it, and give it away? AWESOME.
A few weeks later it arrived. I wasn't sure why I was excited, but it was a new toy and I do love a new toy.
I played with it for the evening and took it to work the next day. By 10am it was back in it’s awkward case and I put it on just a handful of times over the next month. I didn’t really put it on for a full day until the first day of TUGConnects 2014.
The TUGConnects conference is an unusual one for me. It’s a group of small to medium sized local and regional distributors. Not my normal crowd, but they like technology, I like technology, and the food is killer.
I donned Google Glass on the first day and wore it for about 12 hours. There were a lot of questions and a lot of selfies that I helped clog the internet with that day. A fair number of people obviously had never even heard of it so I got a lot of stares as I walked by.
What? Do I have a booger or something?
The conference MC, Glenn Thayer asked me to come onstage the following day and spend 5 minutes talking about it.
Normally additional exposure to a large captive audience is a good thing. But there I was that evening struggling for what to say. What could possibly be interesting about Google Glass to a large group of regional distributors? I had struggled myself to come up with a use for it in my own work for people with special needs and moon rovers.
In the shower the next morning I came up with an idea. Why do some of the best ideas come in the shower?
On stage it went something like this:
"Imagine for a second that you are the operations manager on a warehouse floor. As you walk down an isle you pass a pallet full of shoes. The boxes of shoes have RFID tags on them. RFID has been around for a long time and has had limited adoption, but it works pretty well. Since you’re wearing glass version 3 you see hovering above the pallet some information that’s pertinent to you as the operations manager. This pallet will be here for 2 weeks, it’s scheduled to be moved to isle 9 by Mark the forklift operator this afternoon.
As you walk past the next isle you can see some pallets of styrofoam containers. Hovering above these is information about this shipment of fish that originated in Hawaii and is destined for New York in an hour. These are all transmitting temperature data via bluetooth low energy sensors and you see that one of them has been marked for random inspection by the FDA before it leaves here today. Linda will be handling the inspection and she’s in the building and has been notified by text message that this pallet needs to leave soon and it’s in isle 12, section b.
You pass two more rows and Glass picks up the barcodes on the side of some boxes as you walk by and instantly talks to the servers in the warehouse to give you pertinent information about this shipment critical to your particular role in the warehouse in real time.
This isn’t a vision of the far future. This is next year. "
For the rest of the day conversations with me had a theme.
"I didn't get the vision for our future in technology until you told a story of THAT thing on MY head."
Sometimes we're so busy thinking about the technology that we forget that the outcome for people is the point of the technology in the first place.
Ever since I imagined myself into that story I've had a flood of ideas for what I want to do with wearable computers. And yet, I had to give the Google Glass away that evening.
This version of Glass is like my Palm V was in 1999. The Palm V was okay, a little clunky and a paper organizer was probably faster. I needed to think of the concept of wearable computers by connecting that Palm V 10 years into the future to an iPhone or Moto X. I got it wrong because I thought about the current implementation instead of the potential.
I wish I had my Google Glass back.