A.J. Feather

Journalist, Developer

I'm a Missouri native currently seeking a dual masters in computer science and journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Every week I also host an awesome podcast called "Integrate" with my friend Mikah, which you can find at Integrate.FM.

Before moving to New York, I obtained undergraduate degrees in journalism and economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In Columbia, I hosted a weekly show called "Talking Politics" for KBIA, the local NPR member station and produced, wrote and anchored video for Newsy.com way too early in the morning.

There has never been a political column I did not enjoy reading or an Apple product I did not enjoy using.

Three Things Any New Device Category Needs

This Tuesday I was given the opportunity to use Google Glass for the first time.  I ended up spending a  few days with the technology.  Anytime a new product category enters three important questions have to be answered.

  1. What can this do my other tools (laptops, smartphones, tablets) can't?
  2. Can it do anything the other devices already do but do them better?
  3. Is it possible to produce this product in the quantity and at a price point that is reasonable for the market?

A reflection on current technological innovations demonstrates some new products do all three, while other just do one really well.

For example, the iPad didn't really do much "new," but it dominated #2.  You cannot find a better experience for running through an RSS feed or reading a web page.  The Kindle did the same thing for e-books.  The e-ink screen made reading much less painful than doing it on a computer monitor (or really even an iPad.)  

The iPhone dominated 1 and 3.  It did a ton of new things, and Apple's cult-like following resulted in absurd sales numbers.  Not to mention the price point dropped $200 in the first year, following a new lineup of contracts with AT&T

On the subject of Glass...

It's not the easiest thing to use.  It definitely takes some getting used to, and when the "Ok Glass" command stopped working on the second night I had it, it was almost impossible to handle.  But after a few restarts, everything was back to normal and I continued exploring.

GPS

I did some traveling this weekend, which allowed me to test out the GPS feature.  This is definitely my favorite part of the device.  When using it, It felt like I was in my own little silent world and directions were being whispered to me. No one else was aware.  It was cool.  I also didn't have to dangerously look down at my phone's GPS - a positive thing.

Texting

I don't know.  Doesn't work.  This is the first time I've legitimately wanted to shed my iPhone for an Android because droids can do it.

Apps

The development for Glass is pretty sparse.  Due to so few people getting the product and even fewer of those people knowing how to code, it's hard to find a ton of apps.  However, there are some impressive ones, such as the Nest app I can use to check my thermostat and the Feedly app you can use to read your RSS feed.

Google Now

OMG GIVE ME ANDROID NOW.  So Siri's cool, but this thing told me the temperature in a town I was traveling to before I told it I was going there.  (It reads your email to do this.)  It continues to blow my mind.

Conclusion

  1. Augmented Reality.  However, there's very little the device does with it at this point.
  2. GPS, Voice Commands and it keeps your hand from reaching into your pocket.
  3. This is still a question.  Hopefully.

The product is $1,500, and it's probably not worth that much unless you don't have a problem shedding that much money.  However, I anxiously await the consumer model, which will hopefully drop the price point a bit and spur the creation of more useful applications.  But if you're a geek, and you obsess over new technology; it's definitely worth a try if you can get your hands on a pair.