What It’s Like to Run with Google Glass
When you wear Google Glass on a run, bystanders will stare. You might be waiting at a busy crosswalk, and the crowd of women standing next to you will be looking intently at your face. You might wonder if it’s because you’re jogging in place. Or you might hope it’s because your hair looks especially good today. Then one of them will say, “I’m sorry for staring at your glasses.” That’s when you remember — you’re sporting the most talked-about eyewear since hipsters resurrected thick plastic frames. People will definitely gawk.
On Wednesday, I had the chance to take a pair of Google Glass (there’s no “es” on the end of this Glass) out for a run along the Hudson River in New York City, not far from Google’s Manhattan offices. The experience was trippy and offered a preview of how high-tech runners might soon experience their daily rounds.
RELATED: The Best New Technology for Runners
Glass is in the “open beta” phase, and it won’t officially go on sale to the public until later this year because Google continues to refine the technology. However, people over the age of 18 can currently buy a pair for $1,500 and become part of Google’s “Explorer” program to provide feedback on the product to Google. As of now, Google offers traditional glasses frames and another set of frames that don’t have the lenses. (Runner’s World previewed the latter.)
In each case, the electronic prism screen, which is about the size of a dime, is located just off the right temple, slightly above the right eye. (Google says the high-resolution display is the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen seen from eight feet away.) Glass is water resistant and comes preinstalled with seven core functionalities: take a picture, record a video, navigation, send a message, make phone calls, visit Google+ hangouts, and Google. To operate most of these, Glass must be connected to WiFi or Bluetooth. As of now, Glass has mobile compatibility with Android and iOS and a battery life of approximately one day based on normal use.
As with a smartphone, wearers swipe or tap the tiny hardware box to scroll between the prism screens. Glass did have a short learning curve, though it is ultimately as easy to get accustomed to as a smartphone’s touchscreen. (Speaking of smartphones, did you know that Google Glass isn’t the only high-tech way you can track your jog? Check out these 11 Best Apps for Runners for more.)
The idea behind Glass is to give the wearer flashes of information. I couldn’t use them to watch House of Cards during a long run, but they could show me the stock market ticker, breaking news headlines, or directions from the city’s gridlock to the Hudson River.
A benefit for runners is that many of the commands are given by voice. “OK, Glass, get directions to the Hudson River,” I said, giving the standard command to Glass. The device heard me and, via Google Maps, displayed both the street-by-street directions and an area map with a real-time arrow that showed me the way to the river, complete with traffic notices. Unlike a computer screen, the prism displays won’t stay up forever, but a wearer can always tap the prism hardware box to wake the screen. Because the prism is located above the right eye, it doesn’t block one’s line of vision, though it takes some initial skill to focus one eye, or both, on the prism screen while running.