Brooklyn Bridge Park As Seen Through Google Glass

To see a picture taken through Google Glass is (in its own awkward, yet intimate way) to see the world through an artist's eyes.

To see a picture taken through Google Glass is (in its own awkward, yet intimate way) to see the world through an artist’s eyes.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, photographer and Bright Mango co-founder John Barnett (@johnbarnett) led a group of Instagram photographers wearing Google Glasses on a photo excursion through Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Connecting two New York bridges, the pedestrian walkway runs alongside the East River and offers sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, which made the park an ideal place to see how well the computerized eyewear could capture a cityscape that’s already burned into our memories by television and film.

John, who co-created the Wood Camera and Viewmatic photography apps and has more than 42,000 followers on Instagram, was one of a few thousand people who had won early access to Google Glass by Tweeting his contest entry to the company with the hashtag #ifihadglass.

He tried using them to take my call, but failed. “It’s quite hard for me to hear calls in a crowded area or driving,” he explained. “The nice people at Google when I picked up Glass recommended that I cup my hand over my ear to hear better. (They told me ‘that’s what Sergey does.’) Since there’s currently no volume adjustment, people near me in a quiet room can hear exactly what Glass is saying.”

John arrived at Jane’s Carousel wearing just the frames without the lenses, explaining that because the device was built into the frame, the lenses were optional. With the lenses, it was not a subtle look. “Right now Glass is very Star Trek borg looking,” John said. “People in New York City are open and interested, but in other less connected areas of the world I’ve gotten some pretty curious stares.”

Warby Parker may design a more contemporary alternative for Google in the future, if the rumors are true.”I’d love to see Glass incorporated into a few different styles of eyeglasses,” John added. “Maybe spread the battery pack across both earpieces so it’s not so chunky. And I’d get rid of the silver halo.”

After handing me the glasses, John explained how to tap the earpiece to pull up the menu on the screen. A small square appeared just above eye level. Looking up at the projected image, I could scroll through my options on the menu by swiping the earpiece with my finger and then make a selection with a tap. I could shoot a video, take a picture, or use Google Search.

At one o’clock in the afternoon, the park was crowded and noisy — a good time to test the device’s voice-activated system. John showed me how to take a picture by starting the command with “OK Glass.” It didn’t pick up my voice at first, so I repeated the command at a higher pitch. This time, Glass heard me. In seconds, I had a clear picture of the waterfront that looked as good as one I could have taken with my Android.

This was during the day. “The beautiful display prism needs to auto detect the ambient brightness of my location,” John noted about the brightness level. “In a dark room or at night, Glass is almost blinding. It wouldn’t be that hard for it to check via the camera when I wake the device.”

This brought up the point that using the device isn’t an entirely hands-free experience — I still had to tap the earpiece to shake the device out of sleep mode — but the camera followed the movement of my head rather than my hands. To get close to an object, I had to put my face right up to it.