Instead of fumbling to turn on his digital camera to photograph the sun rising
on Masada or to record a spontaneous piggyback race through an ancient
amphitheater, John Shine can just utter, “Okay Glass, take a picture,” or “take
“With Google Glass, I can film something instantaneously,” said
Shine who is an information technology director in the New York area. “I can
capture myself thinking what’s my first emotion when I see the Dead Sea, what’s
my first emotion when I see the Wailing Wall.”
Shine was one of 27
participants who the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA) outfitted with
two pairs of Google Glasses to visually document their Jewish Federations of North America National Winter Family Mission and upload their experiences onto social media
daily. The mission toured iconic parts of the Galilee, Jerusalem and the Negev
in addition to volunteering throughout Israel. They were also equipped with an
iPad Air and a GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition, among other devices.
individual Google Glass “Explorers” testing this technology might have already
visited Israel, this is the first known large group to use Google Glass in the
country’s history, according to the head of Business Development for Google
Google Glass is a wearable computer fashioned to fit like a pair
of glasses. A miniature prism attached to its upper right-hand corner is the
display screen. A touchpad on its right side allows you to toggle through
pictures, videos or ever-growing catalogue of apps.
It can be paired to
the Internet through Bluetooth to a smartphone or through a WiFi connection, and
it has a 5-megapixel camera that can also record high-definition video. To
activate and operate Google Glass, you either say “Okay, Glass,” followed by a
command, or you tap and then swipe the touchpad.
A pair is estimated to
cost approximately $1,500, but is expected to be reduced once it’s available to
The glasses, which aren’t yet available to the public, were
acquired by director of Missions and Development for JFNA Aaron Herman who
escorted the seven families from all over the eastern seaboard of the United
States and Seattle on their tour of Israel. Herman, in addition to being a
marketing and social media consultant who toys with photojournalism, is part of
the Google Glass Explorer program. Google provides Explorers all over the world
with a pair of glasses to test and gauge potential uses for it. Herman obtained
the first pair by becoming an Explorer, the second pair by partnering with
iCenter, a nonprofit organization in Chicago that promotes Israel education
through technology and other creative platforms.
Herman’s plan for JFNA’s
pilot program was for participants to share their Israel experience in new
“[I’m] saying, trying to tell your story,” said Herman. “Find
something you want to focus on and share it.”
Herman started documenting
everything from the get-go.
He was constantly posting pictures of their
activities onto JFNA Mission’s Twitter page through just Google
Ken Ingber of Washington DC wasn’t even aware Herman recorded when
they first met and shook hands in the baggage terminal of Ben-Gurion Airport
until he watched it in a short online video Herman put together for everyone in
their hotel one night.
Ingber, like some of the adults on the trip, was
hesitant to try Google Glass. But once he did, he said he “fell in love with
“I noticed that after one or two minutes you don’t realize it’s on,”
he said. “It’s unbelievably natural to film what’s going on. This is my fear of
usually videotaping with a video camera.”
Ingber’s impressions reiterate
Herman’s belief that Google Glass doesn’t take away from experiences. It
Adam Kipust, a tech-savvy 12-year-old, agreed with Ingber
while sitting with him at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem.
especially likes that Google Glass not only feels but also looks discrete, which
he said allows you to capture more candid moments.
“With a camera, you
all pose,” said Kipust.
With the glasses, he said, you actually see
what’s going on.
Kipust exemplified this in Herman’s two-minute video he
shared with the group in their hotel. Wearing the glasses, Kipust stared at an
orange he picked from a tree in an orchard.
“Look at some great oranges
we will be picking,” Kipust joked.
The video switched to another younger
participant walking through the orchard wearing the glasses while someone else
stared into the bin where all the picked oranges were dumped.
that watching these 10-second clips was eye opening for him. It reiterated to
him that everyone’s story, or the way they experience the trip, is
Tour guide Yoni Shtern envisions Google Glass having an
enormous impact on Israel’s tourism industry. Shtern is a graduate student at
Haifa University’s School of Tourism and developed the tourism app, Micellulari
(“From My Cellphone”).
Through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and any
social network, Shtern said we can give the potential tourist “the direct
experience and feeling about what we’re doing an Israeli tour.”
referred to the mission uploading pictures and videos onto the Internet of how
much fun they had all week, while the media reported on a Gazan air strike and a
bus bombing in Tel Aviv.
But John Shine observed that the possibilities
for Google Glass aren’t confined just to tourism or family
“The first time you see your child. Right. Think about their
first concert. The first time they play an instrument. The first sound your
child makes. It’s endless,” he said.