NEW YORK (AP) — The first time I was in the proximity of Google Glass was nearly a year ago at a technology conference. The people wearing the device were like cyborg members of an elite club I couldn't join.
Now, it's my turn.
I picked up my Glass on Jan. 24 at the Google Glass "base camp," a bright, airy loft on the eighth floor of Manhattan's Chelsea Market. The location serves as a product showroom and a place where users can schedule appointments to learn how to use the device.
Walk in and you are invariably greeted by a smiling receptionist wearing Google Glass. There are Glass displays on the wall, people walking around wearing Glass, and mirrors so you can see what you look like in Glass. There was a steady inflow of Glass newbies like me who were there to pick up their device for the first time or to get help with problems.
I couldn't help drawing sci-fi and Star Trek comparisons while at the same time feeling like a clumsy luddite for doing so. What if this is just how things are going to be?
Glass is still in what Google calls an "explorer" phase, which means it's not yet available to the general public. That's coming later this year. For now, it's an ever-expanding club as more and more people are invited, either by Google or people who already have Glass, to buy one for $1,500.
The thought of buying Glass with my own money never crossed my mind. Rent comes first. Beach vacations second. And despite being a tech reporter, pricey gadgets rarely make it into my top 10.
The Associated Press purchased a pair, and I plan to share my impressions in a series of stories in the coming months. I'm interested in the device's technical specifics, but more excited by the idea of exploring the cultural and social reactions to Glass. Will I be embarrassed to wear it in public? Do I look like a jerk? A cyborg? Is it actually less distracting in a conversation than a smartphone, as Glass evangelists insist? Will it change the world, like the iPhone did? Is it really worth a month's rent?
The first time I saw Glass outside of tech circles was in early January, near my office. Two 20-something guys in skinny jeans were standing in front of me at a crosswalk. The Glass one of them wore was sky blue, and he was nodding his head up and down in an exaggerated fashion.
"Okay Glass, what time is it?" he asked. "Okay Glass, what time is it?"
I looked at my iPhone to check the time. The traffic light changed. I wondered if he ever found out what time it was.