Neuromancer author and arguably the father of wearable tech in fiction William Gibson finally met up with Google Glass at the weekend, donning the headset and finding – to his frustration – himself left intrigued by it. Gibson – whose 1984 novel coined the term “cyberspace” as well as kickstarted the cyberpunk genre – got to try out Google’s developer-version of the wearable at an event at the New York Public Library, after one member of the audience brought along their new unit.
As fitting meetings go, the intersection of Gibson and Glass is a hugely appropriate one. In Neuromancer, Gibson described a wearable display embedded in eye-lenses fused to central character Molly Millions, and through which a cyberspace-immersed hacker could communicate through text messages.
Although former MIT researcher Steven Mann is best known for translating augmented and mediated reality concepts to real-world hardware, having spent several decades refining his wearable techn, Gibson’s role in describing “the dystopian future in which humans are augmented with computer implants,” as MIT described it, makes him equally important. However, Gibson is also known for being only tangentially interested in technology, a fact which apparently led to some consternation after he had a chance to wear Glass.
“I also got to try Google Glass, if only for a few seconds” Gibson tweeted after the event. “Was faintly annoyed at just how interesting I found the experience.” Asked how well it worked, Gibson commented that the “focal-point tech was impressive.”
The headset itself was brought to the NYPL by Dow Jones consumer technology head Erin Sparling, who was himself surprised that he was the first to help Gibson experience Glass. The Explorer Edition began shipping earlier this month to those who put down $1,500 at Google I/O last year, though Google chairman Eric Schmidt has said that it is likely to be 2014 before a consumer version hits shelves.