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Tech / Innovation

Living with Google Glass

If you haven’t heard of Google Glass — where have you been the last 18 months? Back in February 2013 Google announced at their I/O conference the prototype product ‘Google Glass’ to the developer community and the world.

‘Glass’ is a wearable piece of tech, built into a pair of glasses, with a heads up display for the user to see a screen. It allows users access to a selection of application and functions rather than having to use a mobile device.

Living with Glass
I have been living with Glass for over 2 weeks now. Have used it in meetings, commuting to work, at events and even in the pub to try to get an understanding of how Glass could really fit into one’s daily life. The first mobile phones were seen as a luxury for the select few, with people not able to see how they would fit in a person’s daily life. Now the mobile is seen as a necessity, might this be the same for Glass? Jury’s still out to be honest.


Living with Glass meant an initial ;">behavioral change. In meetings or at events, I would have frequently taken my mobile out of my pocket to glance at the emails I had received, or reminders from my calendar. With Glass’s ‘Glance’ feature, all I had to do was look top right and the screen gave me an overview of what I had missed or needed to attend to next. By swiping the device I was able to navigate menus without having to look down at my mobile and so continue what I was doing.

I also became very aware of people looking at me when I was wearing it. The standard Glass comes with a simple metal bar frame with options to add additional frames or sun glasses. The bold frames I’ve been using makes wearing the device more subtle and sit more naturally on the face. Walking about with Glass, more digitally savvy people frequently did a doubly take. The majority of people didn’t really notice when I was out and about. It’s on public transport or when stationary for any period of time that you become very conscious of people looking and pointing ( was heckled as a ‘Glasshole’ in the street…). But there is indeed HUGE curiosity about the device, to the extent that I was not able to go on any journey without at least one person asking if they could try it out.


What can Google Glass do?
There are a number of features that come with Glass as standard, as well as a wide range of Glasswhere applications that have come out of 3rd party developers to open up further possibilities. Here are some of the key features:

Take a photo/video
With Glass you are able to capture photos as well as moving images, you can then share on social media channels or mail to contacts. It gives a first person perspective of experiences direct from the eyes of the wearer, allowing content to be captured and shared via social media.

Having used Glass a fair amount now, the quick notification on the go and while in meetings feature for me is a real winner. Smartphone vibrations might be a text, email, tweet, reminder, requiring you to pull out your ‘phone’ if you need to do something.

With Glass, a quick vibration behind the ear, glance top right and the screen displays a notification overview, you can then send quick reply using voice recognition or switch to another device if you need to do something more long form.

Google something
One practical (but some say problematic…) function is the ability to Google anything using your voice. Using ‘OK Glass’ ‘Google’ activation voice command you can then search for pretty much anything from the engine’s database. The voice command is fairly solid, but with this early developer version it is configured more for American accents than British, which has caused some interesting searches.

One feature I have already found useful is the ability to get overlaid directions when out and about. The feature requires you to have a smartphone paired with the Glass at the time, to use the cellular connection as well as GPS positioning from the handset. Once set up, it allows you to walk along the street and have an arrow pointing your next to make a turn. It works incredibly well when you have a full address as it uses the Google maps system, however, it can have problems with addresses with multiple numbers.

One of the most WOW features of Glass has to be the translation feature. Powered by the mobile translation app WordLens, it allows you to look at text and will convert it from one language into another visibly, instantly. It currently offers English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Russian. So if you’re looking at a French street sign or menu, it overlays the English translation on top.

What I think is the most amazing part is that it will replace an overlay translation using the same Text font and colour that you’re looking at, as seamless to the user as reading it in your native language.

For the full report on Google Glass, click on: Google Glass Report from William Harvey

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