While many of us were burning down the back yard shooting off fireworks and/or cooking meat on the grill, one Google Glass Explorer wearer, Chris Barrett, was taking a casual stroll down a New Jersey boardwalk on July 4th. He had just picked up the $1,500 "beta" specs the week before and was testing them out on Independence Day, filming the fireworks from a first-person perspective.
Ten minutes after the grand finale, Barrett, founder of PRServe and a documentary filmmaker, began walking back to the car via the boardwalk. The Glass video starts off with Barrett walking through a gift shop, emerging, and then pushing through a thick sea of locals and tourists walking across the beach-weathered planks. The word "fight" is shouted around thirty seconds into the clip, and eventually leads to an unexciting arrest of several individuals.
"I walked right up, saw a crowd forming, and people were saying a fight was going on," Barrett said. "With Glass I went closer to the action than I probably should have and saw a couple fights going on. I think I got the first arrest with Google Glass … kinda cool!"
Save for a few moments that actually contain the subject at hand, most of the video is Barrett plowing through a crowd of people unaware that's he's filming. Barrett wasn't walking around with a video camera, or holding up a smartphone to film the action like a few other individuals in the scene. Instead, he was wearing a set of specs that really show no indication that video capture is underway. Mostly everyone just walks by unaware.
“Only two people stopped me on the boardwalk, asking about Google Glass," he said. "I don’t think the general population knows what it is yet. I think if I had a bigger camera there, the kid would probably have punched me. But I was able to capture the action with Glass and I didn’t have to hold up a cell phone and press record."
Barrett believes that Google Glass is a huge step in citizen journalism. It's definitely the next step from holding up a smartphone to capture an incident, and as he points out, easier to seize the moment in video by merely winking an eye. But it also could lead Glass wearers into dangerous situations because they can get better coverage than with a phone or video camera.
"If Google Glass takes off, everyone’s going to have their entire life captured … first words, first steps … but also people getting shot, and natural disasters," he said.
Or possibly getting punched in the face on a New Jersey boardwalk. He's lucky someone didn't intentionally knock him down and run off with a new set of $1,500 specs.