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Interview: LA comedian Heather Campbell gets to join the future before you with Google Glass Explorer program (audio)

Los Angeles writer/comedian Heather Anne Campbell.
Los Angeles writer/comedian Heather Anne Campbell.
Dana Patrick

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Los Angeles-based comedian Heather Anne Campbell has an impressive resume: former “Saturday Night Live” writer, Emmy nominated, currently writing for Fox’s ADHD animation block, appearing on the rebooted “Whose Line Is It Anyway”… and now, a winner in the Google Glass Explorer program.

In addition to being hilarious, Campbell is an early adopting self-described “huge nerd,” so she entered the #IfIHadGlass contest held on Twitter and Google+ to get her hands on Google’s new wearable computer/heads up display Google Glass before anyone else.

Google sent her notifications of her victory through Twitter and Google+, but that’s not where she found out. Instead, she says she was reading one of the tech blogs she normally reads and saw her name. “I was like, ‘Oh no, that’s me!’”

The winning Twitter entry that Google Glass responded to:

Campbell says her tongue-in-cheek Twitter entry shows some of the potential social problems we may face in a future where everyone can even more easily be recording you at any moment.

“If it takes off, there’s gonna be a bunch of new sort of social rules written about what is and is not appropriate to do with Google Glass, sort of like, if you’re at a romantic dinner, you don’t put your cell phone on the table.”

As Campbell notes, the demo video shows people doing things like playing with their kids, but Campbell says, “There’s not going to be any responsibility in what I’m going to be filming.”

Campbell is a frequent comedy improviser, and says she might wear Google Glass on stage during a show.

“I think it would be really unique for people who are interested in improv to be able to see what it’s like to be onstage during a comedy show as opposed to just watching one.”

She provided some other ideas in her entry on Google+, writing, “I would wear it during comedy shows to share what it’s like to be on-stage at the MGM in Vegas. While traveling, I’d take photos like my NatGeo Pic Of The Day. Or I’d run around making ‘pew-pew-pew’ noises pretending I was a robot cop in the future.”

Just because she’s been chosen for this program doesn’t mean she gets Google Glass for free. The price tag for those in the early adopter program: $1,500. But Campbell’s cool with that.

“This is a technology that can exist now, like driverless cars, and the only thing that keeps these things from existing is that people aren’t making them happen. And I think that the Google R&D division is very, very progressive, and I celebrate that and would love to encourage it with my money and participation.”

Still, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been forced to make some cuts for this to happen.

“I had set aside money for a photo shoot with my friend,” Campbell said, “and I had to call her and be like, hey, this morning, there’s this crazy thing that happened, and now I owe Google $1,500, so I can’t do this photo shoot.”

Campbell wants to make some history of her own with Glass, planning on shooting sketch comedy videos with her group the Midnight Show and being the first group to do so.

How practical they are in day-to-day life remains to be seen. Campbell was part of Google’s Chromebook pilot program as well.

“I love getting weird stuff in the mail from Google.”

Still, she gave up on the Chromebook after a month due to her inability to use industry standard screenwriting and design software.

Campbell can see some potentially useful applications for Google Glass.

“For people who go to these networking parties and everything, it’s gonna be great to wear them, because somebody will develop an app that tracks people via their public Google+ profile, and you’ll be able to say, ‘Oh, this person works for that company, and that’s something that I’m interested in and I want to go talk to them.’”

She thinks they might even be an aid to public safety.

“If they’ve got GPS built into them, and you are filming wherever you go, it seems less likely that somebody would be mugged,” Campbell said. “Unless they’re going to steal your glasses, but even then it’s already streamed to your cloud device. So as a girl who leaves comedy shows late at night, I’ll definitely wear them leaving the comedy shows.”

Google is casting a wide net, reaching out to notables in its Explorer program, with celebrity participants including Neil Patrick Harris, Alyssa Milano, Kevin Smith, Newt Gingrich and more. One Explorer is even an owner of a previous fictional version of a similar technology — LeVar Burton, aka Geordi La Forge from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

This isn’t Campbell’s first run with futuristic glasses — she says that, in college, she bought a pair of 3D virtual reality glasses for $900 to play video games, but after six months decided, “‘This is really stupid.’ But at the same time, it was fun and exciting to pretend to live in the future that you want to live in, and with Google Glass, it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s kind of a thing that I hope happens.’ So yeah, I’ll early adopt and look like a nerd at parties until everybody’s wearing them.”

“Maybe a month after wearing Google Glass, I’ll be like, ‘This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever spent money on,’” Campbell said.

But for now, she’s excited and optimistic about the technology’s future.

“I hope they make robots. Man, I really want to be in Google’s robot pilot program. … Like, walking around with a robot would be pretty great.”

Keep an eye out for a funny blonde woman winking at you from behind a pair of future-chic glasses in the not-too-distant future.