Googles newest gadget has gone skydiving, been to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, sat over the eyes of an artist doing a drawing and joined one naked tech enthusiast in the shower. Doctors at a Connecticut hospital are testing it, a Vegas strip club banned it and I brought it to Guantánamo.
Its Google Glass, a computer with a camera that you wear like eyeglasses a once unimaginable technological tool. It lets you glance up and see a news bulletin on its tiny screen or dictate an email. Ask it a question, out loud, and youll hear an answer in your ear.
And because its so new, on the heads of just 8,000 so-called Explorers, its seen as the ultimate status symbol in certain techie circles, drawing curious stares and the occasional giddy giggle of recognition.
A geek grew wide-eyed at the Apple Stores Genius Bar on Lincoln Road and asked to see it. A waitress dashed over when I wore it to dinner at the Khong River House restaurant. As she leaned in for a look, I told it to snap her picture. OK, Glass: Take a picture.
And it did.
The device is in its infancy, finicky and expensive.
A few examples:
• The first time I dictated a post that mentioned Gitmo, the militarys nickname for Guantánamo, it wrote Got Milk.
• It runs on Wi-Fi but not all kinds, notably not on two-step logons like we have at the Miami Herald.
• I paid $1,633.12 including tax for one of the 8,000 Beta versions, plus the cost of getting to a Google Glass studio in New York City to pick it up and get it started.
Thats a long way to go to snap my first selfie.
Thanks to todays chic, oversized sunglasses, Glass can mostly go undetected. One night, a parade of people and their pets paid me no notice, just weaved around and past, as I practiced making video clips at the iconic Havana Cafe, standing cross-armed in the middle of Lincoln Road to steady my eye-camera head.
Just about the only place where I was thwarted in using it was while reporting at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba in part because of the bases backwater communications, and in part because it is a U.S. military censorship zone. More on that later.
Google Glass is a combination computer and camera packed in a frame that looks like eyeglasses. Its name is singular Glass because its display is a sugar-cube-sized chunk of glass that perches above the users right eye.
When I wear the frames and look straight ahead, I see normally. When I glance up and to the right, I see a floating video monitor.
Technologically, its both clever and hard to fathom. Its a camera. Its a computer. It can tether to your cellphone and make calls. It responds to voice and finger-swipe commands.
It lets you search the Web (using Google, of course), stream a YouTube video, dictate and send emails to up to 10 pre-programmed contacts, and take really decent photos and post them on the Internet using the makers designer site Google+. It reads aloud news items on command.
It also lets you make videos and live video-casts that are as steady as you can hold your head.
Its like a real-life version of the imaginary helmet cameras worn by cinematic U.S. Marines in the 1986 sci-fi movie Aliens.