Google’s latest and hottest gadget needs little introduction, but what do you really know about the controversial Google Glass?
Google Glass, in its simplest form, is a pair of very advanced eyeglasses.
It’s an augmented reality gadget. They are wearable, voice-controlled devices that display information directly into its user’s field of vision.
It was first announced by Google X (Googles Special projects division) in 2012 under the code name ‘Project Glass.’ The company made the device available to testers and developers in early 2013.
It is also worth noting here that Google X is the department that is working on driverless cars, and high-altitude wireless balloons to bring internet to remote and rural areas.
BUT WHAT IS GOOGLE GLASS?
Google Glass is, like we said, an augmented reality device. It uses visual, audio and location based data to provide information that is relevant to you at that time.
For example, a user could walk into an airport and immediately receive flight status information through the Google Glass display. Or, a user could walk into a grocery store and instantly get a notification about what items are on sale.
You thought being reachable through your smartphone all the time was bad? Wait until you’re plugged in right through your eyes!
Google Glass is packed with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, speakers, a camera, microphone, touchpad and a device that detects head-tilts. Then there’s the main piece, a tiny screen about the size of your finger that shows you all the information you need at eye level.
Let’s break it down.
- -The glasses don’t really have lenses. Instead, they have a battery powered heads up display (HUD) that sits just above the right eye. Think of a smartphone screen built into a pair of glasses.
- -This HUD display has a 640×360 pixel resolution. Google claims this is equivalent to looking at a 25-inch High definition TV from about 8 feet away.
- -The built-in camera is the equivalent of the iPhone 4 camera. It is a 5-mega-pixel unit with 720p video capture.
- -Audio is handled with bone conduction transducer. In other words, instead of having actual headphones, Google Glass sends the audio vibrations directly through the small bones in your ear, which you then hear as sound.
- -There is 16GB of storage space. Only 12GB of this is usable, as 4GB is presumably taken up by the actual Google Glass Software.
- -The device is fully synced with Google’s cloud storage.
- -Google Now is part of Google Glass. Google Now is voice recognition software that can understand what you say and do as you request.
- -Adjustable nose pads and a durable frame that fits any face
- -Google Glass can be connected through both Wifi and Bluetooth
- -One full day of battery use. However, some features like Hangouts and video recording will drain the battery faster.
- -There is an included Micro USB cable and charger
- -Google Glass IS NOT compatible with regular glasses. If you need prescription glasses, you have to buy them from Google. This is $225 on top of the regular price of Google Glass.
HOW CAN YOU USE IT?
There has been lots of talk about Google Glass in media. If anything, it has been all but dominating the Newsfeeds since the product was announced back in 2012.
These theories and technical specs are all well and good, but HOW can you use what is essentially a smartphone attached to your face?
- Glass has a voice input and recognition system. The built-in microphone combined with Google Now connects you directly to the search engine.
- You activate Google Now by saying “Okay Glass” then send a command or question. Tilting your head up does the same thing.
- Real time photo taking. Just say, “Take a Photo” and your view at the moment is captured, hands-free.
- Real time Video Taking. You can take videos of every action you perform, all hands free. Whether it’s real-life tutorials, amazing events or extreme sports-nearly anything can be recorded quickly and easily.
- You can have digital meetings with Google Glass. Using Google Hangouts, you can have group conferences and meetings without being confined to a desk. GOOGLE JUST ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY THAT THEY ARE WITHDRAWING VIDEO CALLS AS A FEATURE AT THIS TIME. This was announced hours before the one day sale. Google claims that video calling will be available at a date in the future.
- You can dictate text messages, attach videos and pictures and send data just by using the voice feature. No hands required, and you don’t have to remove your phone from your pocket.
- Since there is a built in GPS chip, Google Glass can help you navigate without having to look at a smartphone or a GPS device. This applies whether your driving, walking through a town, or hiking through the countryside.
- Live information is shown to you in real-time. Since Google Now can keep track of when you’re leaving home or doing errands, it can also easily send you recipes and warn you of bad traffic before you get caught in it. Can’t watch the big game? – Google Now will let you know the new scores and team updates.
Unfortunately, Google glass will be dependent on WiFi or mobile connectivity to work. If you are in a dead-zone, you are out of luck.
However, it will work with both Android and Apples Phones.
When can you buy it?
Well – you can’t, not really. Google Glass is very much a prototype, even after eight months of being in the hands and on the faces of tens of thousands of beta testers.
The release date itself has been delayed a few times now (it was originally suppose to be released in late 2013). The current theory is around the end of 2014 Google Glass will be available to the public full time.
However, yesterday you had the chance to join the ranks of the Google Glass Explorers, as Google Glass for one day only at a price of $1500.
Who is using it?
It’s not just the life of the average person that Google Glass is looking to change. There are applications for it in a wide variety of areas, some most people haven’t even thought about. Here are some groups that are already beta testing Google Glass:
The U.S. Air Force’s “BATMAN” (Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided Knowledge) research team at Write Patterson Airforce Base in Ohio. They are beta-testing Google Glass for possible use on the battlefield. It is one of the military’s most distinguished research and development groups.
New York City’s Police Departments massive and controversial intelligence and analytics unit is also evaluating whether Google Glass is a decent fit for terror investigations, and routine street patrol purposes.
Virgin Atlantic airways is already beta testing the glasses to see if it will improve customer relations with their clients.
A hospital in Boston has begun using Google Glass along with QR code technology to help them keep track of patients. Instead of using a clipboard, they scan a patients QR code and instantly know everything they need to about them through the display.
Google Glass is potentially one of the most disruptive pieces of technology to emerge in recent years. It’s also a constant issue in legal circles, both here and in the US.
What are the legal ramifications of wearing them while driving? The privacy concerns if they are worn in a bathroom? What about disruptiveness in the workforce or the classroom? The legal fallouts from this device are still not fully known or examined. Are we potentially looking at another phone tapping scandal?
Google has actually released its definitive guide on how NOT to creep people out on the street when using Google glass. Some of the tips it shares are:
- -Do NOT stand alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them.
- -Do NOT expect to be ignored
- -Do NOT glass out (use Glass for extended periods of time)
There are privacy issues, mocking, and a shocking rise in cases of people having the glasses ripped right off of their faces and destroyed. Article here.
In short, the idea of individuals fixing tiny computers to their eyes and staring off into space are making some people uncomfortable.
According to Sarah Rotman Epps, a Tech analyst at Forrester Research, this is why Google is rolling out Glass in slow stages. To give people, and the world, time to adjust.
Google Glass will be here eventually either way. Whether the world will be ready for it remains to be seen.