At its I/O 2012 keynote, Google shocked the world through the announcement of a bold new class of wearable computing devices. Google Glass made this first public appearance in style with skydivers landing on the roof of the Moscone Center. This was more than a publicity stunt. It was a grand and audacious demonstration of the technology itself.
Being there on the floor of I/O 2012, I can tell you that developers and the media were completely agasp. As a Glass bespectacled Sergey Brin began speaking about the device, every single one of us wanted one. When Sergey announced that the device was coming to developers as an “Explorer Edition”, we were gobsmacked.
Google I/O has a reputation for the quality of its sessions, access to Google personnel, and absolutely peerless swag. I/O attendees have walked with smartphones, tablets, and even notebook computers. New hardware announced at I/O is typically accompanied by an Oprah Winfrey-like announcement that every attendee was getting that device.
There’s a great deal of debate as to precisely when Google made the transition from search and advertising to consumer electronic devices. There is no debate around the role of Android in that relationship. Android literally put Google into the hands of consumers. With that opportunity, the company quickly realized that it had to control more of the delivery process both by building OEM relationships to produce best in class hardware and defining its own hardware to increase the level of play where OEMs were coming up short.
At I/O 2012, we were all expecting a 7” tablet, but no one was expecting that Google’s gambit into the consumer device space would include creating a whole new segment of wearable computing. The announcement of Google Glass came out of nowhere.
As a bespectacled Sergey Brin began to discuss the device features, it felt like this was not merely a concept, but a rather a device ready for production. Would there be an Oprah Winfrey-like moment for Glass? Well, not exactly. It was announced that I/O attendees would be able to reserve and Explorer Edition for $1500.
While there were some gasps at the price point from many I/O attendees, $1500 was a small price to pay for living in the future. Developers queued up on the third floor of the Moscone as soon as the location was announced. Approximately, the first 1000 pre-orders received a numbered glass brick and no specific timeline when it would arrive.
For six months, I stared at my own Glass brick, #786. It sat cradled in a blue velvet lined box reminding me that Glass was coming. Yet, there was no ship date or update from Google. After the spectacular introduction at I/O, it was a long period of silence before the world would hear about Glass again. With the passage of time, the promise of Glass started to feel like the “flying car” -- an imaginary product that you’d love to exist, but never reaches the market.
In January 2013, I received a golden ticket. I was one of the lucky developers to be invited to the Google Foundry event. To this day, participants still are not permitted to speak about the details of Foundry. The event was my 2 day vacation with Glass.
I had two takeaways from the Foundry event. First, having experienced Glass, I immediately missed having the device on my head. Second, I knew that I wanted to take part in this new wearable computing revolution. After the fateful weekend, I was left to imagine the uses for Google Glass and the glassware that might change the world.
It was 3 anxious months of waiting before I was lucky enough to get scheduled for my Glass appointment. I was one of the first Google Glass Explorers to receive a device and every minute of that day remains sharp in my memory. There is one part of that day that truly stands out -- the excitement of getting home to write some code.
If you are reading this book, you are probably a lot like me. You want to be creating applications on the cutting edge. You want to build new experience for users. You want to write glassware that changes the world. Like me, you may be feeling that smartphone and tablets are so last decade. Google Glass is that bold new technology frontier.
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