SAN FRANCISCO&151We didn’t know what to expect when Google co-founder Sergey Brin suddenly appeared on the stage at Google I/O and interrupted Vic Gundotra’s pitch for new features in Google+. The first thing you noticed was that Brin was wearing Project Glass augmented reality goggles and that Gundotra was unperturbed enough to indicate that his boss showing up wasn’t a total shocker.
But what Brin showed us next certainly was.
Here’s what I wrote on PCMag’s Google I/O live blog this morning:
“Holy cow&151Brin’s having a Google+ hangout with some guys in a blimp above San Francisco via Google Glass. They’re going to fly down to Moscone in wingsuits, live on Google+!”
Turns out that was just the start of some wild, live streamed, three-dimensional pwnage of an urban environment the likes of which we’ve never seen. Google’s demo of Google+ running on Google Glass not only beat the pants off the climactic scene of your favorite Hollywood action flick&151these guys did it in real time, on the first take, and without any CGI touch-ups in post-production.
Later in the day, I was chatting on the phone with industry analyst Patrick Moorhead about something relatively mundane like the pricing for Google’s Nexus Q streaming media player when I asked him if he’d seen the Google Glass demo.
“That was the most kick-a** tech demo that’s ever been done,” he replied. It’s true. For pure audacity, thrills, and literally everything going precisely right when so much could have gone wrong, nothing I’ve ever witnessed can compare.
This was Evel Knievel jumping Snake River Canyon in his Skycycle X-2 rocket, only if he’d actually made it across while simultaneously defriending somebody on Facebook or something.
Everything hinged on the first part of the demo, the premise of which was getting a package of unknown contents to Brin on the Moscone Center stage ASAP. The set-up was perfect&151Brin chatting with the quartet of skydivers in a blimp circling above downtown San Francisco, drawing out the conversation almost laconically as it dawned on the audience that these guys were going to jump out of an aircraft and attempt to land on the roof above our heads.
A quick note&151Brin’s interruption of Gundotra’s presentation was known to be a possibility but I’m guessing the precise timing of it wasn’t planned. It’s likely the Google I/O production team got a call from the crew on the blimp saying the window of opportunity to pull off this stunt off was now, regardless of what’s happening on stage.
The easy calm of the skydivers couldn’t prevent the sense of tension as jump time approached (check out their training sessions in the video below). When they did fling themselves out of the blimp, a whole hell of a lot could have gone wrong. It wasn’t the windiest day I’ve ever experienced in San Francisco, but it sure wasn’t the non-windiest either. Yet all four skydivers expertly navigated the crosswinds and updrafts in their wingsuits before touching down softly on the roof of Moscone West.
But it wasn’t over. In a way, it got even more mental. The skydivers handed off the package to the next group of couriers, some BMX pros who proceeded to pedal up a ramp leading off the edge of the 110-foot building to their certain deaths … only a quick cut (reminiscent of the last scene in Birdy and all done over a Google+ hangout feed!) revealed that they’d landed on another level about 15 feet down.
From there the package was hustled over to a special forces-slash-rock climbing guy who rappelled down the side of the building to the third floor and handed off the precious cargo to another gang of bikers, who snaked their way through the seriously packed keynote hall to finally deliver it to Brin.
Inside the package&151a pair of aqua blue Google Glasses. In the record books&151the most kick-a** tech demo of all time.
For more from Damon, follow him on Twitter @dpoeter.