Tester Finds Novel Ways To Use Google Glass

A.J. Jacobs, editor at large for Esquire magazine, is one of several thousand people testing Google Glass, the mini-computers for the face. Jacobs has used them to — among other things — cheat at poker. He tells all to host Scott Simon.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. You know, there are several thousand people who are now testing Google Glass, that mini-computer for your face that's slated to go on sale sometime next year. Somehow, our dear friend A.J. Jacobs finagled a pair for himself and he immediately put them to work so he could cheat at poker, chat up women in a bar and generally annoy those people around him, I mean, even more than usual. His exploits are recounted in the current issue of Esquire magazine, where A.J. is an editor-at-large. A.J. Jacobs joins us from our studios in New York. A.J., thanks so much for being with us.

A.J. JACOBS: Glad to be here.

SIMON: You did cheat at poker. I mean, explain how you did it, but isn't there some kind of code of conduct?

JACOBS: Well, yes. I did cheat at poker. I'm a terrible poker player, so I needed all the help I could get. And my cousin is a professional poker player in Las Vegas. So, I used him to be my poker coach. And using the Google Glass, he could see my cards and tell me what to do - whether to raise or to fold or to laugh maniacally. And it worked.

SIMON: He didn't whisper in your ear. He sent you a text message or something?

JACOBS: He actually - I could see a tiny image of him in my little tiny computer screen and he would hold up cards. He would actually handwrite cards, like an old game show, and it worked. I won $200. But I did give it back to my friends - mostly, most of it.

SIMON: You're a happily married man to one of the most wonderful, not to say understanding, women in the world, which didn't prevent you from joining some of your young colleagues to try and score points in a bar, right?

JACOBS: That's right. I wanted to live vicariously through a single guy, so I used the Google Glass to become a high-tech Cyrano. So, I gave it to him and he went to the bar and I could see what he was seeing. So, I could tell him which woman to approach. And we went up to one woman and got her name. I Googled her and I found out some information about her and - that she had gone to a festival in Montauk. So, I messaged him to ask her about that. And she was simultaneously intrigued and creeped out.

SIMON: Now, you have the glasses on right now, right?

JACOBS: I do. I'm wearing them right now.

SIMON: Well, can we try you out in a few questions?

JACOBS: I would like that.

SIMON: All right. I got to be careful with this one. What's the largest human organ?

JACOBS: OK, Glass. Google what is the largest human organ? This says the liver, but I have only...

SIMON: Google Glass is wrong.

JACOBS: I'd always heard it was the skin.

SIMON: Yes. Our information is too. And, you know, we have used human researchers here to come up with this.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: So, let's try this one, OK?

JACOBS: OK.

SIMON: This Saturday after Thanksgiving, how many turkeys that have pardoned by U.S. presidents are still alive?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

JACOBS: How many turkeys that have been pardoned by presidents of the United States are still alive? Oh. Obama has pardoned almost as many turkeys has he has to human beings convicted of drug crimes. This is...

SIMON: That's not an answer, A.J., is it?

JACOBS: But it's interesting.

SIMON: Yeah. Do you have to press a button on your glasses to talk?

JACOBS: There are two ways to control. One is through your voice and one is through a little mouse pad on the side of the glass.

SIMON: A little mouse pad?

JACOBS: Yeah, a little touchpad.

SIMON: A.J., based on your experience, is this going to take off?

JACOBS: Well, I did ask my Google Glass that very question and, you know, it's unclear even to Google Glass. But I will say it's a very polarizing device. You either love it or you hate it. It's like Hillary Clinton or cilantro. And I do believe that something like this will take off. I don't know whether it's this iteration, but I do believe you cannot stop technology. And we are on the long, slow march to becoming part android.

SIMON: A.J. Jacobs. His article on Google Glass appears in the current issue of Esquire. A.J., thanks so much.

JACOBS: Thank you.

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