The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 5, 2013

Google Glass test an eye-opening experience

In the past month, Google has been handing out the first editions of its much-anticipated Glass wearable computer devices to a select group that was chosen to be the first to try it out.

One of them was avid bicyclist and science-fiction writer Margo Rowder, who was invited to pick up the high-tech eyewear at a Google office in Los Angeles. All those selected to buy the glasses must pick them up at a Google office and go through what some say feels like a Google initiation.

Rowder allowed me to tag along and experience the whole process with her. She applied to receive an invitation to the Google Glass Explorer program in February, telling Google she was interested in using the device to help her get around Los Angeles on her bike.

In her application, Rowder said Glass could make it easier for her to record any thoughts that came to her that would be useful for the book she was writing called “Thirty Decibels,” which is about a futuristic society in which most people are forbidden from speaking any louder than a whisper. Rowder said she was very excited to receive her invitation to purchase the $1,500 glasses because in her book, which she began writing in 2009, she imagined a device that’s very similar to what Google has made.

Riding on her blue Raleigh hybrid bike, Rowder pulled up Wednesday afternoon to Google’s offices in Venice, located inside the Binoculars Building designed in the 1980s by famed architect Frank Gehry. Inside we were greeted by half a dozen Google employees, all wearing the glasses.

After Rowder finished putting on her contacts (you can’t wear prescription eyeglasses with Glass) we were escorted to the Glass team’s wing of the building. Along the way, we got an inside peek at what employees have access to, including a Google L.A.-imprinted burgundy pool table, a large snack room and an open courtyard with a life-size chess board.

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