Bruce Burke spent the summer wearing, testing, talking up and imagining the potential of Glass, Google's new eyeglass-mounted computer.
Before visiting with Burke a few days ago, I admit I was reminded of the hype in 2001 surrounding super-inventor Dean Kamen's latest product, codenamed "Ginger," that would revolutionize transportation.
"Ginger" was actually the two-wheeled electric Segway, which is cool but far from revolutionary. Twelve years later, the few I still see on a routine basis are Segway tours for tourists in downtown St. Petersburg.
So after a thoroughly entertaining and provoking couple of hours spent with Burke and his Google Glass headset, which will it be, cool or revolutionary?
"This could be a Speed Pass for your life," says an enthusiastic Burke. "People are looking for ways to make things more seamless."
As chief marketing officer of Mize Inc., a Tampa startup, Burke is a rare breed. He's one of just 10,000 people chosen nationwide to get their hands on a "beta" or test version of the Glass headset this summer, long before a refined version hits the consumer market.
Google picked Burke in a Twitter contest after he finished the tweet: "If I had Glass … " His Twitter response: "… I'd see things differently."
He forgot about the contest only to hear three weeks later he could participate in Project Glass. On July 5, Burke flew to New York, where he was fitted for his own headset at one of Google's three "base camps" dedicated to Project Glass.
Burke does have skin in the game: He had to buy his test headset for $1,600. But the Tampa Bay native says it's some of the best money he's ever spent. His Glass not only gives him a preview of how information might enhance daily living, but also made him a bit of a rock star in the local tech community and with the media.
After six weeks of digesting the possibilities of Glass, Burke says we may soon witness a quantum leap in how people use wearable, hands-free technology to help streamline our complex day-to-day lives.
I won't spend much time describing Glass features. Stories already abound that it acts as a phone, can take photos and video, and links continuously with the Internet. It projects information on a small screen in the upper-right corner of the right eye frame, and offers clear if not loud audio through a small speaker in the frame. A rechargeable battery lasts about four hours with steady use.
When I tried on Glass, the small screen was blurry because I am nearsighted and would need my own lens prescription to get a crisp image. Otherwise, it