Meet Jason Belmonte, the First Professional Athlete to Wear Google Glass in Competition
Two months ago, professional bowler Jason Belmonte stepped up to a lane in his hometown of Orange, Australia. He was on his 10th frame, three rolls away from bowling a 300. On this day, he felt a particularly intense pressure to achieve perfection — but not just for the sake of his professional career, still progressing after four years on tour, nor for his fans, who would be watching later on YouTube.
Belmonte had thrown 61 perfect games before this, but this one would be special. This time he was recording the experience from his face with Google Glass.
“When all the pins fell, it was certainly an exciting kind of feeling,” the 30-year-old Australian told Yahoo Tech. “I realized that I’m about to upload something that hasn’t been done before.”
Belmonte is almost certainly the first professional athlete to wear Glass, a headset-like computer from Google that places a small display and camera just above the wearer’s right eye and is currently available only to select beta testers. Amateur athletes have recorded their scrimmages using Glass, and Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate conducted a Super Bowl press conference with a pair. This summer at Wimbledon, American tennis pro Bethanie Mattek-Sands was set to wear them during an actual game, but, at the last minute, did not.
Instead, the title of first athlete to record a professional competition (a perfect one, no less) with Google Glass silently went to Jason Belmonte this December.
And even though the story played out like an uplifting ad for the powers of Glass, Google apparently had nothing to do with it.
“The biggest misconception is that Jason is sponsored by Google,” Tom Clark, commissioner of the Professional Bowling Association, told us. “That’s really not the case.”
Instead, Belmonte, who has always been a tech enthusiast, approached Clark with the idea to record his games with Google Glass during professional competitions last year. After getting the go-ahead, he was faced with the real challenge: bringing Glass Down Under.
In advance of general retail availability later this year, Google has been selling pairs of Glass for $1,500 to so called “Explorers,” testers of the device who submitted short applications to Google and were chosen by the company to be early users. Google stipulated that Explorers must be able to attend a “fitting” in New York or San Francisco before they would be able to take Glass home.