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Project Glass is a research and development program by the multinational Internet and software corporation Google, which aims to build an augmented reality head-mounted display unit. A promotional video released by Google in April of 2012 has inspired several parody videos and image macros.
On February 22nd, 2012, New York Times writer Nick Bilton published an article titled “Behind the Google Goggles, Virtual Reality”, which revealed that Google was building augmented reality glasses running on the Android operating system. On April 4th, Google unveiled Project Glass in a Google Plus post, which included a YouTube video showcasing the concept. The video takes the perspective of a young man interacting with an augmented reality display as he explores New York City. The YouTube upload received over 12 million views within one week.
News Media Coverage
Later that day, YouTuber Tom Scott uploaded a parody video titled “Project Glasses: A New Way To Hurt Yourself”, which took the perspective of a man repeatedly running into things while being distracted by his augmented reality display.
On April 5th, a post by Redditor BabyStevie reached the front page of the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit titled "Why Google’s project “Glass” will be successful", which featured a design photo for the project accompanied by the caption “No one has a clue / that I’m watching porn right now.”
In the following days, several other parody videos appeared on YouTube mocking the promotional video with buggy software, invasive advertisements and jealous spouses.
On February 20th, 2013, Google uploaded a video featuring a first-person perspective of what it looks like to wear Google Glass (shown below). The video showed people interacting with the device by speaking voice commands, prefaced by the phrase “Ok Glass,” that would control what would be shown on the display. Within one month, it received over 18.5 million views and 20,000 comments.
The same day, Google opened entry into the Google Glass early adopter program named “Glass Explorer,” allowing developers and consumers early access to testing the product. Entry into the program was ended the following week on February 27th. Applicants had to post an essay consisting of 50 words or less to their Google+ or Twitter pages with the hashtag #ifihadglass. Selected individuals would then have to attend an event in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles to pick up an Explorer edition of the device, which connects to the Internet through Wi-Fi.
On March 12th, Google showcased several Google Glass features during a session at the interactive portion of the South by Southwest (SXSW) annual conference held in Austin, Texas. During the presentation, Google demoed apps that had been designed for the device, including Gmail, the New York Times, Path and Evernote.
White Men Wearing Google Glass
On April 29th, 2013, the single topic blog “White Men Wearing Google Glass” was launched on the microblogging site Tumblr, which highlights photographs of Caucasian men wearing the Explorer edition of the Google Glass headset (shown below). Within one week, the blog posted over 30 pictures.
On the following day, the Gawker Media blog Valley Wag featured a post about the blog. On May 1st, the tech news site Mashable published an article highlighting several Twitter reactions to the photo blog.
“In its favour, if Google Glass didn’t exist, these Silicon Valley guys would be having affairs or buying motorbikes” whitemenwearinggoogleglass.tumblr.com— Niall McCormack (@ndmccormack) April 30, 2013
The next day, the Internet news site Laughing Squid posted a compilation of notable examples from the Tumblr blog and Wired published an article suggesting that the abundance of white male testers in the Explorer program may be harming the product’s brand image as being “too dorky.” On May 3rd, The New York Times Bits blog reported on the public reaction to the blog and ABC News published an article noting that the photographs may be a telling sign of gender inequality issues within the technology industry.