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Sullivan Solar Power's Google Glass Project
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January 18, 2014
Sullivan Solar Power
Hopefully you read my last blog, My Moms iPhone 5s, and are wondering what's in the box. Google Glass was in the box. The reason for its top-secret status is that we were, and still are, the first company in the renewable energy industry to use the device. We might be the first in the energy industry in general. We knew when the time came to go public it would make a splash, and didn't want anyone taking the wind out of our sails. Little did we know the splash would be more of a tidal wave.
What exactly did we do? We got our hands on a 'pair' (a single device, like a 'pair' of glasses) and got to work creating a usage model, workflow, and even wrote our own app. None of this was easy. First of all, Glass is not publicly available, you have to make a request to Google to be invited in to the Glass Explorer program; our request went unanswered. Instead we found a device on eBay and paid many times Google's price for the device - turned out to be well worth it. Usage model and workflow? How do you predict how such an exotic tool will be used in the field? Compare it to a smartphone where users come to expect that certain behaviors will result in certain expected outcomes; left or right swipe, click and a keyboard appears, volume controls on the side, click an app and it opens... none of these learned behaviors preexists on Glass. Creating an app that is intuitive enough for the user to pick up and start using is incredibly difficult - the controls are completely different than anything that's come before it. And it should come as no surprise that finding a software developer with experience programming Glass is impossible, so we just sort of brute-forced ahead, learning as we went. At the time, Google did not allow people to put their own apps on these devices, we actually had to hack it (also known as side-loading) to get the app to run. After much hard work, we were pleased with the outcome.
On December 16, 2013, we went public with our innovation (http://youtu.be/X5GrtgTu26Y). My phone started ringing off the hook. New York Times, Forbes Magazine (twice), Wired Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, San Diego Business Journal... all wanting interviews and insight into what we had created. I knew our use case would be a first for the renewable energy industry, but I had no idea this was actually one of the first professional, practical, uses of Google Glass ever.
Shortly after, Google themselves called me directly. They congratulated me on our achievement and asked if they could help in any way. I explained we were never invited into the Glass Explorer program, much to their surprise. They promptly invited me up to their Los Angeles Glass headquarters to remedy that situation. We now have several devices with the option to buy as many as needed moving forward.
Little shoot I did of my experience driving up to Google in Los Angeles:
Stay tuned for more Glass blogs - plenty more to come!