OK GLASS…. Interview… Thad Starner
Thad Starner (Google’s Technical Lead for Glass) and I have worked together for the past seven years at Georgia Tech, both on research projects and in the classroom teaching Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing (Thad teaching HCI theory and I design). I was lucky enough to be able to get my very own Google Glass just yesterday!
CZ Tell me something about Google Glass you’ve never told anyone before.
TS I was wearing a functional prototype of Glass publicly, based on a laptop in a backpack, back in December 2010. It was even more clunky than my old academic system. You can see it during my talks in Ireland:
CZ What’s your favorite feature of Google Glass?
TS The SMS notifications. It has saved me several times when someone was waiting to pick me up and texted me to tell me they were nearby.
CZ Ok how did you guys get Glass on Diane Von Furstenberg’s runway? Did you get to meet her and if so why wasn’t I invited? DVF is one of my HEROS! Obviously one perk of working at Google must be the celebrity sightings; who has Glass lead you to, that made you geek out to meet?
TS I believe the DVF show was Sergey’s idea. I did not go to that one. LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge of Star Trek fame) was trying to get access to an early device. I think he got selected for one from the #ifihadaglass entries. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to meet him yet.
CZ What do you think about the SNL skit, I’ve seen you wearing Glass and I have to say that it seems to work much better than the one on SNL…. It’s a lot less Chunky then the model they made too.
TS It was really funny. I’ll probably use it when teaching Mobile & Ubiquitous Computing
CZ How has working at Google affected your academic life? What lessons have you carried from Google into the classroom?
TS I’ve learned a lot from working at Google about practical issues of creating a device and interface for production. These lessons turn into stories for teaching my students.
CZ What other projects are you working on that you are excited about? What kind of impact do you see them having?
TS I’m lucky to have a lot of hot projects right now: SMARTSign, FIDO, CHAT, MMT and several others. While they address more niche markets than Glass, I am hoping some of them will result in real products some day.
CZ Because I know you, and work with you , I know that you type on a Twiddler. What’s the future of the Twiddler, who makes it, and how can I get one?
TS A Bluetooth version of the Twiddler is coming out. I’m using a prototype right now and have a post about it on the G+ wearable computing community. It will be significantly smaller.
CZ Since we started working and teaching together six years ago I have learned so much about Human Computer Interaction, and how to work on teams with computer scientists. I’m even learning to code! What have you learned about the design process? How has it affected your on process?
TS Learning to talk to industrial designers and fashion designers really helped me on Glass. Often people from different disciplines have great difficulty communicating, and having those years with you and your students prepared me on what industrial designers valued as well as how to express the importance of ID to the engineers on the Glass team.