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A Glasshole in Manila

Google Glass

by Rom Feria

Just before the New Year, I got one of the most sought after geek gadget since May 2012, the Google Glass. After trying it out in August at the TED Fellows Retreat in Canada, I was bent on being a Google Glass Explorer. How’d I get one? I applied as a developer and was also sent an invite from a friend.

I have been using it for more than a week already and have a different experience compared to most of the documented experiences of Glass Explorers in the US. In the US, there is a considerable number of people who are aware of Google Glass and either you get a surprised look from a stranger or you get someone to ask questions and even ask to try it out.

In the Philippines, at least in Metro Manila, it is quite different. Most of the public aren’t aware of what it is. They just look at you and find you to be some weird guy with a funny looking eye-glasses.

My first experience with someone recognizing what it is is on an escalator in Trinoma. A mother-daughter pair was doing their holiday shopping and the mom recognized it — heard her point it to her daughter saying, “Look, it is a Google Glass”. Good thing they did not freak out! :)

There experience within my circle is different — they are aware of Google Glass and so they were excited to try it out themselves.

So what do I think of Glass so far? For starters, it is amazing! I paired mine with my Nexus 5, instead of my iPhone 5s, to get the full experience. Unfortunately, I had SMS integrated with Hangout and Hangout glassware is installed — the consequence is that I get a lot of SMS spam from Globe sent to my Glass! SMS spam is really annoying, Glass or without, and I do not know what Globe is doing to solve it (frankly, I think this is intentional so they can get marketers to use their network and spam their subscribers).

Anyway, I separated SMS from Hangout, but somehow I still get that SMS spam. So, if you are thinking of getting Glass and pairing it with a Globe phone, good luck.

I love the way Glass just goes away when you don’t need it. I just wish that I have a pair of lenses that can hook up to it instead of putting it on top of my prescription glasses (two specs are just heavy).

Glass still has a long way to go. Glassware, applications made for Glass, are limited, but developers are rapidly churning out apps for the device. This is a chicken-or-egg situation – with the Glass having restricted availability and a tad expensive, developers are not that many, but it will get there, perhaps not this year, but next.

So if you are another Glass Explorer in Manila, please let me know – would be nice to get in touch with another Glasshole.

Rommel Feria is a columnist of the Manila Bulletin Tech News since 2005. He is a Computer Science Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, a TED Fellow and organizer.