@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • Being a #GoogleExplorer in the UK (What it’s like to own Google Glass)

    January 2nd, 2014mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    googleglassFor the past couple of months, I’ve been asked a lot about Google Glass and where they fit in with the big picture (museums, galleries, teens, kids, innovation, etc).  I’ve been reading up as much as possible but knew the only real way for me to be honest with my response would be to own a pair.  After arranging to receive a pair of Google Glass I started researching things – like what to do when I open the box.

    I will admit that I was a tad intimidated at the thought of having a developers pair of Glass.  Did that mean I would need to program them to turn them on? How complex would it be to work them? What level of skill would be required? Would I have the patience to deal with this learning curve?

    They arrived on New Year Eve.  My first thought was ‘Oh no – will I have to wait for help to get them working?’ but as I opened the box, I noticed there wasn’t a ‘manual’ but gentle labels that helped guide me into the Glass world.

    Pretty much straightaway I was able to turn them on and get a feel for what was ahead.  Of course the first obstacle was the charger (it’s a US plug) but luckily I was able to charge via USB – whew!

    Charging is quite quick – about an hour-ish for full charge. There is a note on the online community that suggested I drain the battery completely to make the battery last longer.  I don’t know how true this is but there was no harm in trying.

    I’ve found battery life to be complicated – some moments I think it’s good others, I noticed I’m down 25% in a blink of an eye.

    Speaking of blinking (jumping a bit so please forgive) – I’ve managed to set up the camera to work with a wink.  In order to do this, you have to calibrate the wink with the camera.  Sounds more complicated than it is, Glass software walks you through the process.

    Charlotte managed to take pictures right away.

    Charlotte managed to take pictures right away.

    The Google Glass setup is actually quite simplified.  I could see why the pioneer Explorers were required to pick them up from San Francisco and New York but it seems the initial feedback has led to easy to follow directions (with addition help available online).  The online community is incredibly patient.  I did a quick introduction and found another explorer in Ireland within 10 minutes. No questions are silly.  As a former network admin, I know the importance of reading up on message boards before posting the same question that has been asked (and answered) 50 times but I was told not to worry if I did.

    In order to get on Wifi, you input your details on the setup screen and you’re presented with a QR code – yep, all those people asking if QR codes are dead?  Apparently the answer is no.  Living in the countryside means my wifi is a bit flakey at times.  Unfortunately, this meant I had to create the code again.  It would be nice if a) Glass remembers your wifi information and b) you could store the QR Code (NB I have taken a screen shot to make life easier but would prefer Glass to store info if possible).



    During setup, you’re required to register your glass with a gmail account.  A lot of the sharing is done via Google Plus but you can manually add contacts to your account.  I must admit I’m still getting used to Google Plus contacts and how to arrange it so family and friends are top contacts instead of G+ contacts.

    Once I was done with setup, I managed to take picture and small video immediately! Charlotte soon tried them and without any help, managed to take pictures and understood the touchpad.

    As mentioned, during the day, our wifi kept kicking me off which was very annoying.  I read up a bit and realized I could use the HotSpot option on my phone – tada!

    So how does Google Glass Actually work?

    There is a lens, that is similar to a prism on the top right eye view.  During the setup, you’re prompted to adjust the lens and nose bridge to put the lens out of your direct eye sight.

    The left side of the glass is a normal arm to a pair of glasses.  The right side is where all the magic lies. Following on the lens (prism) the right arm has been converted to a touchpad.  This is where the battery and usb adaptor fits in.  (And where you charge from).

    The touchpad is your mouse pad.  There are a few key moves:

    • Activate Glass: Tap touchpad (NB you can change this to activate with a head nod)
    • Swiping forward and back: to move from one screen to another, you swipe forward or backwards.  This also works within ‘menu’ options.  For example, when you get to pictures you touch/click once to ‘go into’ pictures and swipe to view them.
    • Select an item – tap
    • Go back to Home: swipe down. Swipe down is like the undo button.

    When you turn your Glass on, you’re presented with the home screen that shows the time and ‘Ok Glass’ at the bottom.  This screen is voice activated:  Ok glass, take a picture.  Ok glass, send a message.  etc.  (Or you can use the touchpad to scroll through the options).

    Ok Glass is your ‘key’ – this voice command opens the Glass up to many hands-free options.

    Lock Homescreen

    You can create a pattern to lock the screen.  Like most devices, it requires you to run through the pattern twice to confirm.

    Things I’ve Tried:

    Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 10.21.02Social Media

    Twitter and Facebook are pushed to the glass via APis.  You don’t ‘launch’ them (as I originally thought).   A tweet that mentioned me (@MarDixon) or one of my accounts (@MuseomixUK, @KidsinMuseums, etc) will display on the Glass.  I have the option to reply or Retweet.  Your reply is via voice.


    I can reply or archive.  There is also the option to Read Aloud.  This will read your email/Tweet to you in case you can’t read it.  Genius!

    Picture taking

    My Vignette

    My Vignette

    I’ve been doing the ‘Ok Glass, Take Picture’ option not realizing there was another option.  However, when I read the information in the box one item indicated there was a button to help snap pictures. Revolutionary!  I was worried how I would test taking pictures in a museum if I had to say OK GLASS TAKE PICTURE every time.

    Another ‘trick’ is to create a Vingette (which is a new term I learned today).  This is when you take a picture then have a picture within a picture.


    After you take pictures or videos, you can share.  With the picture in your site, touch the touchpad and Share is displayed (swipe and delete is your option).  The contacts indicated via your My Glass setup are presented.  You swipe to the contact you want and touch the touchpad again.  During the sending process, you’re provided the option to cancel.


    Google Glass call apps Glassware (clever little developers). With a bit of help from Twitter I managed to download the iOS app MyGlass to my iPhone.  I’m still playing with the different settings.  So far I learned that you need to turn Glass on/off for some functions to work.

    Easter Egg

    Yup – apparently with V2, there is a hidden Easter Egg in the View Licensee screen.  To activate, you have to tap the touchpad 9 times (you’ll know when you’re doing it correctly as the tone of the beep changes). It produces a photo of the Google Glass Team, all wearing Glass (of course). But the real surprise is the photospear – an almost 360 degree picture!  This Easter egg  is creative as it shows how Google Glass can be used.


    To get the music to work, it took a bit of reading up.  Music Manager is required.  I managed to get the songs I paid for on itunes to transfer and upload over.  One key bit of advice (several actually) is that the music should be in a playlist and I’m pretty sure you need the ear piece in to make it work (that or it was just coincidental when I managed to get the music playing).  Update:  You don’t need the ear piece but it is a good option so you don’t annoy those around you (and/or get mocked for your taste in music *ahem*).

    So far, you can’t play the music without a connection (it’s all streamed).  There are hopefully plans in the near future to change this to allow for some offline play.

    Glassware Installed:

    Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 13.37.59Outside the social media (which I’ve been able to reply to several tweets today), there are several options that I’ve installed.  Here are some examples:

    • Google _ – share things with right people
    • Evernote
    • Google Now – right information at right time
    • Google Play Music
    • WinkFeed – updates from favorite topics and RSS
    • YouTube – publish videos
    • World Lens – translate signs to English

    There is a forum for developers and it sounds like there are some incredibly amazing apps being built for Glass that are ready for production soon.

    More to Learn

    I’ve had my Glass for 2 full days and have learned so much.  I have yet to take them out in public (but it’s the holidays).  I’ll continue to share my journey in learning about Glass – feel free to ask questions here or Tweet me!

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5 responses to “Being a #GoogleExplorer in the UK (What it’s like to own Google Glass)” RSS icon

  • Great article, Mar. Thanks for sharing your experience and enticing more explorers of Glass.


  • Love the write up Mar. Do you think there is any difference between using Glass with an iPhone against an Android Phone?


    • I’m learning that yes, there are. I only have an iPhone (which I LOVE) but their currently are limits. The other issue is apparently many of the developers are concentrating on Android apps so iPhone is (to me) a step-cousin. Allowed to party, no one is rude, but it’s awkward.

  • I have just purchased a pair of google glasses and i am in the UK. Do you know how i get access to the MyGlass app here, i think it is only available in the states?

    • You need to setup an itune account with your phone set for American time zone. (You need an American itune account). Google how to do this without a credit card (it is possible but impossible to explain). 🙂

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