Google Glass meets Comic-Con

At an event where thousands are celebrating futuristic devices, what's the reaction to something real but seems like out of a movie? When it came to Google Glass, everyone loved it.

Danny Sullivan
Danny Sullivan is a journalist who has covered the search and internet marketing space for over 15 years. He's founding editor of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, and writes a personal blog called Daggle (and maintains his disclosures page there).
Danny Sullivan
3 min read
A bioman from Syfy's Defiance equipped with Google Glass Danny Sullivan

If there's any place you'd expect Google Glass might be warmly received, surely that would be Comic-Con. With thousands of science-fiction fans toting replicas of futuristic devices, you'd think an actual device that seems straight from a Hollywood flick would go over well. And you'd be right -- it was a hit.

I'm one of the 10,000 Google Glass Explorers using Google's smart eyewear. In the month I've had Glass, I've never encountered a negative reaction, when wearing it in public. Usually, there's curiosity. But during my time at Comic-Con this week, I experienced something new: outright fandom.

As I walked through the expo hall or while waiting in line for sessions, it wasn't uncommon for me to see people do a double-take, then turn to someone and whisper something about "Google Glass." On several occasions, I got high-fives and congratulations from people who clearly would love them. On three different occasions, I actually had people run after me for a closer look.

Nothing like this had ever happened to me before, wearing Glass. But it's not surprising. It's almost like they'd come home, to an audience that would be naturally receptive to them.

A walking demo
For me, it was a real treat to lend them to people to try on. The reactions were almost all the same, a moment of awe as something they've just heard about becomes real literally before their eyes.

Most people seem to expect that the Glass screen will block their vision or not be easily visible at all, so when it comes on and they discover how well it works, there's an "Ohhhh!"

After that, I'd usually ask them to say what they'd see on screen. They'd naturally read the "OK Glass" text on the main screen, which brings up a menu of other commands:

Again, eerily naturally, they'd usually go on to read "Take a picture" without any prompting from me. When that caused a picture to be snapped, there were further exclamations of "wow" or "OMG," along with plenty of "When can I get these?"

I probably demoed Glass to about 30 people in all, letting them try it on and play around. The reception was universally positive. No freak-out over privacy, either because I was wearing them or in general. Just amazement.

People liked them, understood how they worked fairly quickly and wanted Glass for themselves. At $1,500, even if the general public could buy them, I wouldn't recommend them at that price. They are indeed amazing and useful for many applications, but that's still so pricey. When Glass is ready for consumer release, there's an excellent chance they'll cost much less than the price Explorers paid.

Still, when I explained the cost, many at Comic-Con weren't put off by that at all. The future was now, and they were eager to get using it.

Comic-Con, as seen through Glass
As for me actually using them, I found them as great as always for many cases where I wanted to do a quick snap but not fiddle with getting out my phone. While you can speak to take a picture, it's even faster to just use the camera button on the frame. Here are a few of my shots:

Glass isn't perfect, of course. It doesn't do well with poor light. There is no zoom, so forget those shots of people on a distant stage. Then again, the shots using the iPhone 5 or Nexus 4 smarphones I had with me in such situations weren't that much better.

Connectivity issues abounded. Getting a signal can be tough at any large event. It was harder when Glass itself has to talk via Bluetooth to transmit through my phone. I could far more consistently share photos with my phone than with Glass, especially because I could type a caption, rather than having to speak one, wait for that to go out to Google, be understood and come back to Glass to attach to the photo.

Still, there were plenty of occasions where I snapped a picture, tapped to share, spoke my caption and was moving along, never stopping to glance down at a phone screen. Sending pictures of how people imagine the future to be a Comic-Con with the futuristic Google Glass device in the here-and-now proved both useful and cool.