Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Glass under the X-ray

The first time I heard of two Goggle Glass wearers randomly crossing paths was in a busy airport (aside from Google offices, of course). I guess that means there is some sort of critical mass in airports. When I first started wearing Glass, I wondered if airport security would be a problem.

I'd made a point to ask several Glass wearers if they had any trouble getting through airport security. Everyone said no. After some experience, I concur. It’s not a problem getting through security, yet it does put the wearer in position to explain exactly what Glass is.

I confidently moved to the X-ray cylinder the first time I wore Glass for a flight. The TSA agent monitoring the queue asked what I was wearing as he looked straight at my eyebrow.  "It's Google Glass,” I said.

"Is it a computer?" he asked. I had to stop and think about that for a second. For me at that moment it wasn't much more than a camera. I was having trouble getting connections set up for other functionality.  "Yes, sort of, but its not working now, because..." I was pretty sure he didn't want to hear about tethering and personal hotspots, which at that point I hadn’t mastered. Before I could finish my thought, he said, "It's going to have to go back through the line. All electronics are scanned." OK. Easy enough. I'm still sort of wondering. Is Glass a computer? I get the concept of wearable computing, but at this point, one could make the argument that this a gadget rather than a computer.  

Another time through airport security, I was stopped at the same point, coming out of the X-ray cylinder. This time, my quick response was, “It’s like a fancy Bluetooth headset.” He asked me to take it off, and he took to his team back at the scanner looking at carry-on bags and shoes. He asked if anyone had seen anything like it. One agent spoke up, “Is that Google Glass?” Once the others heard a coworker identify it, they seem less concerned.

The reason I wanted to be part of the Google Glass Explorer program was exactly that: how do you explain Glass to people. In particular, how do you explain this new technology to employees of a company? Sighting of Glass in an airport is still rare, I suspect, but because of the work they are doing, agents could benefit from job-related information to be able to identify it and know what to do when they see it. (And Glass wearers should know to treat Glass like the laptop and put it in a bin for inspection.)

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