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Best. Demo. Ever.


Google's annual developer conference, I/O, is going on this week at Moscone Center in San Francisco. Yesterday morning, the keynote featured an over-the-top demo of Project Glass, Google's experimental project involving a head-mounted tiny display and camera (and other stuff, but the camera—and its ability to share video in realtime—is the relevant bit here).

The eleven-minute video of the demo is now available on YouTube. But in case you just want a quick text description:

SVP Vic Gundotra had been describing and demoing new features of Google+, when Sergey Brin came onstage and interrupted him with a time-sensitive demo.

Sergey said that a friend of his was nearby, about a mile overhead, carrying a package for him. The screen behind Sergey switched to showing the Airship Ventures zeppelin, flying high above San Francisco. (Most news stories that have described this have called it a blimp. Foo.)

Up in the zeppelin were several skydivers wearing Project Glass devices, and wingsuits. They showed the view from the zeppelin via Glass. “Being able to share what you're seeing live is really amazing,” said Sergey.

And then the wingsuit people opened the door and jumped out of the zeppelin.

After a couple of minutes of flight (and parachutes deploying successfully), they landed on the roof of Moscone Center. A team of bicyclists, also wearing Glass headsets, took the package and zipped off across the roof, doing a ramp jump along the way, with the screen continuing to show their POV.

Then they handed the package off to another Glass-wearing group, who rappeled/ran down the side of the building, then hopped on more bikes and rode through the crowded convention center and up onto the stage. (Or possibly the bikers at the end were a different group? I wasn't sure.)

The whole thing was completely gratuitous, but very very entertaining. I imagine it's not quite as awesome seeing it recorded as it was seeing it happen in realtime, but still really impressive.

For some background material, see also a Project Glass post on Google+ yesterday, featuring a two-minute video of skydivers using Glass, preparing for the I/O demo. In that video, I especially love the bit from 0:50 to 1:00, starting with skydivers in close contact. Nice.


Speaking as someone who had never even heard of Project Glass before, I'd have to say that it seems incredibly cool, but not because of this demo. No, it seems very neat based on this One Day... video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c6W4CCU9M4

But this I/O demo, well, I'd say it's arguably the Best Stunt Ever, but as far as demoing what Glass is about, it's weak. All I saw being shown off (admittedly in extreme and cool ways) was the ability to watch the view from someone else's head... and that just made me think of the "X10 - world's smallest webcam!" popups that plagued websites a decade ago.

Fair enough. I didn't intend to imply that this was a good demo of the multitude of things Glass will be good for, but I see now that my phrasing did suggest that.

I think I basically meant the same thing you mean by "Best Stunt Ever." Or, to put it another way: They did an awesome performance, in the context of demonstrating and discussing new technology from Google, that happened to be a particularly spectacular way of demonstrating one specific feature of Glass. So I guess I meant "demo" in the sense of "staged presentation of a piece of technology" rather than in the sense of "putting a piece of technology through its paces."

...I should note that One Day is not actually a demo per se; I don't think that Glass, in its current form, looks quite like that. (But I haven't tried it myself, so I don't know for sure.) I think it's more a concept video showing what kinds of things a head-mounted system like Glass could conceivably do.

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