Thursday, January 22, 2015

Exploring the Unbeaten Path with Google Glass

+Google Glass recently announced the end of its Glass Explorer program leading many technology pundits to declare Glass a failure.  There were certainly challenges to widespread adoption, but I think the device was under appreciated for its hands-free utility while running, riding, skiing, kayaking and snowshoeing.  

Our increasing desire to share outdoor & athletic adventures shows no signs of slowing down.  GoPro's, selfie sticks, GPS watches, heart rate monitors, self following drones are becoming more common and spewing off mountains of data & imagery via social networks.  Like it or not, "face computers" aren't going away - the Recon Jet lives on, Merrell is offering virtual hikes with Oculus Rift and Microsoft just launched the HoloLens.

What differentiates Glass from the three previously mentioned wearables is that it's not designed for one activity (Recon), meant to replace reality (Oculus) or be completely immersive (HoloLens).  Lightweight and sleek, Glass is designed to let you focus on the world around you and be available when & if you want to be connected or share your outdoor activities quickly & easily.  

For me, Google Glass is still immensely useful and I use it regularly.  Now that Glass has graduated from Google[x] and strikes out on its own, I look forward to seeing what comes next.

The following article was originally written for Google's Glass Journal.  

Kayaking on the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon.

"Trail runners are an elusive lot. They often run trails to get away from it all.” This is how a longtime friend described our tribe 15 years ago before trail running became mainstream and the rise of social media changed what it means to “get away from it all.” Today I’m still an avid trail runner—traveling fast and light—exploring the world beyond paved roads while staying connected and sharing my experiences from the trail.

Trail running with the Strava app for Glass.

Trail running with Gary & Nancy in Switzerland.

While trail running, it’s not uncommon to come around a corner and see something surprising, unusual and often fleeting. Wildlife up close and personal, clouds in motion dissipating on the backside of a mountain ridge or the first light of sunrise beaming through a dense green forest—just a blink of an eye for Glass to capture the moment, all without breaking stride.

Previewing the World Masters Mountain Running Championships course in Austria.

Sub-zero morning run in Bennington, Vermont

Runners often joke that if a run is not on Strava it didn’t happen. Strava is how I track, share and measure my off road adventures. “Did I set a personal record to the summit of Black Mountain?” I get immediate feedback. It shows distance splits in the heads up display, plays audio cues and provides the ever addictive segment split times. And with Strava, I have extra motivation because my friends and teammates are always watching.

Start of the junior women's race at the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy.

Cross country skiing at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon.

In the past 12 months Glass has been my exploration companion while trail running across the United States and around the globe. I’ve run mountain trails in eight US states, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Canada, Mexico and captured them all through Glass. While I often run alone or in small groups, Glass keeps me connected with my once elusive and now larger community of trail runners. Now they see what I see and trace my route from afar.

Sucking wind after a tempo run up Black Mountain.

Goodbye Glass Explorer Program - Long Live Google Glass.

To see more of my Glass photos see my Best of Glass photo album.