Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Research Through (the Looking) Glass

After the great feedback on my last post (thanks to Twitter, Facebook and G+ friends for the questions and feedback!) I realized I need to take you along more often as I go on my Glass Explorer journey. 

Ok, time to get down to business. 

When I applied for Glass the two key areas for "Exploring" I put in my application were market research and social media. It's (very) early days yet in my Explorer journey, but here's where I am so far...

Social Media
Glass will feed in Twitter mentions, Google Messenger IMs, G+ mentions, and let's you post pictures and videos out to those same platforms. The integration with social media platforms is great for posting photos on-the-go: "Ok Glass, take a picture...Share with Facebook Friends" - it's that easy.  I can also voice reply to tweets and favorite tweets via Glass. I haven't found any Instagram integration yet, but I'm sure someone's working on that. 

Thoughts to date: Glass is great for on-the-go posting and replying on social media. But remember I'm not a social media manager for a product...I'm guessing that may be a lot harder to handle via Glass but it likely wouldn't be your primary interface anyway.

Market Research
Ok, let's get down to the good stuff...

I'm aware of a small group of (ahem, rockstar!) market researchers with Glass:

I look forward to hearing what this group of #mrxExplorers discovers about Glass, and I'm sure there are more of us out there! If you know of market research Glass Explorers (or are one!) let me know in the comments.

Here's are a few of the many research-related topics I'm in the early stages of looking into via Glass:

  • Using Glass to take short videos for IDIs. We're often doing quick IDIs at tradeshows and other events and being able to take a quick video, and being able to enable that by voice command, is something we're testing out.  I like that it breaks down the barrier of holding an iPad, clipboard, other note-taking device and allows the interview to at least seem more spontaneous.
  • Allowing clients to "see through my eyes" through Glass at an event. Whether it's broadcasting those IDIs to a team back in the home office, or allowing remote clients to get an "in-event" experience. There are several Glass apps ("Glassware" is the official name) that are either live or in process around this idea. Hang w/ is the first one out of the gate with live POV broadcasting, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do. 
  • Capturing qualitative. In this area it's more about thinking ahead to when (and if) Glass "hit big" in the marketplace. If they do, we need to think about how we can ask our respondents to use them to gather data. The work that is being done via mobile devices right now by companies such as Revelation in terms of capturing consumer behavior, emotions, and context can certainly be extended to Glass when it hits the consumer market. In many ways (through my rudimentary testing so far), capturing visuals through Glass is easier and more intuitive than taking out your smartphone to take a picture or video.  
  • Presentations! For those of us who do a LOT of public speaking, what could be better than slides, speech notes or prompts via Glass? You can bet that I'll be trying out the Glassware in this area, and the two that are trending right now are YourShow and Glassentation. Stay tuned for more on both!
Much much more to come as I dig into testing the above!

Finally, I have to note that one of the biggest and best surprises about Glass is the community of Explorers and Google Glass staff, otherwise known as #Glassfamily. I've worked on a lot of product development and also research communities in my time so feel like I've seen a lot...and the Explorers group has really wowed me. I'm incredibly impressed with the helpfulness, kindness, creativity and spirit of adventure of the Explorers.
Amazing mosaic by Kris Kitchen of the Glass Explorers

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

(Gladly) Joining the Cyborg Army: My First Few Weeks with Google Glass

So about a week before my birthday in mid-December, I decided to be bold (-er than usual) and put a birthday wish out to the universe: "Would like Google Glass for my birthday. Make it happen, Google!"

About a week later I received the coveted email from Google inviting me into the Glass Explorers program. NO IDEA how exactly the timing worked out so well with that! Maybe Google really is Big Brother...just glad they were listening : )

I placed my order and received my Glass soon after that.  

First reaction? The packaging design for Glass is is gorgeous. It definitely was like unwrapping a present.

First glimpse of the Glass packaging
Now that I've been using Glass for a few weeks over the holidays, I have some initial thoughts to share:   

  • The instructions are easy to follow and Google has produced very helpful getting started videos so I had everything up and running soon after opening the package. There are a lot of options for "Glassware" including linking Glass to Facebook, Twitter, getting feeds from Mashable, CNN, recipe apps, Strava, and many others. I started simple to learn the ropes (Facebook Twitter, G+) and once I got a handle on that I moved on to adding other Glassware. Granted I did have a learning curve with a few random shots of my home office being posted to G+...oops!
  • After you get over the initial strangeness of wearing Glass, they actually become really intuitive and natural. The touchpad is very easy to master, as are the voice commands. They sit above the eyeline, so you're not looking through them all the time, you're looking up at them when there's something to see. They're not active and 'on' all the time, unless you want them to be. 
Even my Glass wished me happy birthday!
  • The private online community for Explorers is fantastic and incredibly helpful. Google employees are active on there and it's clear they're reading and taking action on feedback. You can get Glass tips and tricks from other Explorers and post to the "wishlist" for Glass development. It's fun to see how folks in the community are using Glass, and the virtual community is nice since many of us are the only ones (or one of very few) in our local (live) communities sporting Glass. 
  • In order to really fully use Glass out and about you need to tether it to your phone, otherwise you're beholden to whatever WiFi you can pick up in various locations. Note that you need to activate a personal hotspot on your phone (I have an iPhone) and for me that means I need to change my data plan. Not the end of the world, just annoying.
  • Glass takes excellent and very clear pictures! I'm really pleased with the clarity of the photos, and Google automagically pops them over to a private album in my G+ account. 

The Glass case - not fabulous for travel or lots of use

  • The current carrying case provided by Google is not good. While it's very hipster chic, it's only a hard case on the bottom, and the rest is soft. If you travel, put a lot of stuff in your purse or tote, or generally need to protect your devices (trust me, I OtterBox everything), this case doesn't cut it. Lots of Explorers have commented about this and many have come up with various hacks, from plastic craft cases, to headphone cases, even to pistol cases...but all hard cases (take note, Google, since you're apparently listening ;). I took a tip from one of the other Explorers and ordered a hard-sided headphone case on Amazon (set me back all of $9) which will work for now.
  • There is a huge potential market for accessories for Glass. Even with the prototypes that we have, savvy accessories entrepreneurs are sprouting up, such as GPOP who offers skins for your glass so you can change their colors. When I ordered Glass I opted for "cotton" (aka white) but with the skins from GPOP I can have glass that are any color of the rainbow. Currently I've opted for pink.  
  • Glass are meant to be shared. What do I mean? It's very clear to me that the Explorers are ambassadors of Glass and very willing to share! Explorers I've chatted with have story after story of having friends and random strangers ask them if they can try Glass on. That happened to me at the PWM airport recently too. I think it's great, and have even chatted with folks about doing a lunch and learn session at work so folks can try them on, watch some of the other Explorer videos, and discuss the applications and possibilities for our business.  
Consider the Kool-Aid consumed. I love Glass already, and I think that wearables are going to hit big in 2014 and 2015. 

Apparently so does WIRED mag. aken #throughglass
Do I think that Glass will change design before hitting the market? I think it's likely...and I'm guessing that at some point in the future, the technology available with Glass will be integrated into regular glasses someday (similar to what Oakley's doing with the Airwave). 

More to come as I continue to learn, play, and share Glass. I'm still very much in the early learning stages! 

Now, Google, does this mean that the few of us in Maine with Glass get a peek at the Google Barge currently under wraps here in Portland? Hint hint?