LIer test drives Google Glass
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Basil Puglisi nods his head, and his Google computer specs -- an invention straight out of "Star Trek" -- takes the cue.
A menu appears on the device's prism screen, just above his right eye.
"OK, Glass, take a picture," he commanded. "Share with Facebook. Publish." He dictated the photograph's caption, fusing the futuristic and the quotidian: "Just got my wife's wedding ring cleaned for our ninth anniversary."
Puglisi, a digital marketing strategist based in Center Moriches, is one of 10,000 Americans invited by Google to receive Glass, a combination camera, display, touch pad and microphone attached to spectacle frames. Hilary Topper, president of HJMT Public Relations in Melville, was also selected.
Glass is "really nifty," Puglisi told the saleswoman at Littman Jewelers in Smith Haven Mall on a busy Tuesday. "I can now be having a conversation with you and if a text message comes in, I can see it."
The device, still in development, lets users perch a display in their field of vision, film, take pictures and surf the Internet -- all without laying a finger on their smartphones.
Puglisi, a "Glass Explorer" since he was fitted for the frames at a Google base camp in Chelsea two weeks ago, is proud to wear hardware that detractors have called ugly; he considers it "a small stamp of approval from Google."
Last February, Google ran a contest offering winners the opportunity to test the product, for the price of $1,500. Entrants posted statuses on Google+ and Twitter about what they'd do if they had Glass.
There was a zookeeper who wanted to show visitors how he feeds his penguins, from up close. There was a teacher who wanted to video chat with his class in Michigan while biking through the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. And there was a quadriplegic who just wanted to be able to take a photo by herself.
"We just picked a group of people who would reflect the diversity of the country and who had interesting, inspiring and practical day-to-day uses" for Glass, Google spokesman Chris Dale said.
Puglisi -- whose headset was paid for by the New York Business Expo, a summit for small businesses in the tri-state area -- tweeted that he would use Glass in his job as a digital marketing manager at PMG Interactive, a digital marketing consultancy, and also in his everyday life as a husband and father of two sons.
"My wife is at home with our newborn and it's our ninth anniversary," Puglisi told a sales representative at Macy's perfume counter, where he chose a pink bottle of Burberry Summer. He can't be going home empty-handed, he said, but he won't be getting a deal on this gift: His Google search on Glass yields no coupons.
As Puglisi makes his way out of Macy's, the sight of his headset intrigues two makeup artists at the MAC counter. They shriek in delight when they recognize themselves on the screen of Puglisi's Android -- he has directed Glass to record a video, linked to his phone through an app called MyGlass.
What do these fashionistas think of the Glass look?
"I wouldn't mind it, whatever. I thought maybe you had, like, an eye problem or something," Danielle Rowland said. She has more pressing concerns about the device's possible invasion of privacy. "God forbid if a girl is bending over in a skirt or something," she said.
Puglisi said he thinks Glass will actually discourage such behavior. "If you're a person who has a questionable character, you're not going to be able to hide it" on social media, he argued. Plus, users must speak their commands or press a button on the top of Glass's frame to direct the device, which alerts people nearby to their actions.
Critics also worry that Glass will distract its wearers. In its defense, the Glass website says the device -- its screen inactive by default -- is designed to "put you back in control of your technology," rather than vice versa.
The masses can decide for themselves when Glass becomes available to the public in 2014.
In the meantime, Topper, who gets fitted for the device next week, will be enjoying the novelty. "I still feel like the first on my block to get a color TV," she said.