A Month of Google Glass, from Selfies to Performance Monitoring

Eric BettsI never imagined I’d be the “Glass Guy” at New Relic’s Portland office. After all, not everyone wants to take the plunge and get Google Glass for themselves (or be seen in public wearing it). The past month has told me that despite Glass’s mixed reception, it’s still a device that elicits a lot of curiosity both because of its intrinsic novelty and as a symbol of untapped potential.

How I Got Started with Glass

The Monday before Thanksgiving I was lucky enough to receive an invite to the Google Glass Explorers program. By that Friday, my device was in-hand and on-head. Over the following weeks, I had a chance to demo Glass to my fellow Relics at both the PDX and SFO offices; to our new Chief Revenue Officer, Hilarie Koplow-McAdams; and to friends, strangers, and many others.

I’ve also gotten the chance to play with the Mirror API, install sample apps instrumented with New Relic for Mobile. It’s been an interesting ride, and has got me thinking a lot about the confluence of technology and social interaction.

Demoing Glass for the Curious

Demonstrating Google Glass to others is incredibly fun and something I feel privileged to do whether it someday becomes more commonplace, or ends up as a joke of technology (Powerglove anyone?). I’ve found that people will recognize Glass and sometimes ask about it, but offering to let them try it out is the best way to overcome their initial hesitation.

Once they’ve put it on, I have them tap the side to bring up the clock. Their first experience of the projected ‘screen’ is something that strikes people and helps them understand how Glass differs from a HUD or Augmented Reality. Next I ask them to read the time and say the words below it (“Ok, Glass”). As people who have read about Glass are probably familiar, this is the phrase to start using voice commands.

Glass Map

At this point, many people will read the list of phrases aloud, and Glass will catch “take a picture”. My collection of selfies has grown considerably, and unintentionally, since getting Glass. I’ve yet to have a negative experience from the demos I’ve given — most people are delighted by the experience and seem most interested in determining its usefulness and price.

Glass as a Server’s Best Friend

Glass’s consumer usefulness will ultimately be decided by the software developers build on its platform, but its existing commercial applications are often overlooked. One of the groups I’ve found most excited about it are waitstaff. Since they need to keep their hands available while being kept up-to-date on the ever-changing conditions of both the front and back of house, Glass has the potential to be a perfect companion. Messages to the servers, bartenders, or host/hostess about newly seated groups, reservations, and order status are a simple and impactful use case.

Monitoring Glass Apps with New Relic

As a proof of concept, I also instrumented one of the Glass sample apps using New Relic for Mobile. I was able to see sessions, averages for interaction time, and what took the most execution time in the app.

New Relic for Glass

The app experience of a user on their mobile device is incredibly important because phones are used for shorter periods of time than tablets[1]. I think Glass will ultimately be used for even shorter sessions, which raises the stakes even higher. If an app takes too long or isn’t responsive enough, they may give up on that app entirely.

Looking Forward

I look forward to seeing how the general public reacts to Glass. For now it is undoubtedly a fun toy for the early adopter. But still to come is whether and how society changes to adapt to it. Is it just too different and destined for the annals of tech history along with Google Wave and the Segway? Only time will tell.


[1] Report: App Session Times Run Longer On Tablets, But App Usage Is More Frequent On Smartphones


I am a Software Engineer in Portland, OR with a Masters of Engineering in Computer Science from Oregon State University. I'm a big supporter of Open Source, and have published almost all the code I've written to GitHub. I'm also an avid tea drinker, bake (scones, cookies, coffee cake, etc), and enjoy riding my Segway. View posts by .

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