I was lucky enough to borrow a pair of Google Glass from the team at the USC School of Medicine Greenville. One of their Information Technology guys was even more lucky to get invited to have the chance to purchase them. Here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts on this groundbreaking piece of wearable computing.
They’re lighter than you might expect. They have only a few buttons, and the majority of the interface is controlled through touch gestures via a touchpad integrated into the frame on the right side. They take some getting used to, and the display is translucent, and only takes up about 5% of your entire field of view. After wearing them for awhile, you can start to “look past” them, and almost not even notice that they’re there. If you’ve worn glasses before, you know that initial feeling of seeing the frames, and after awhile, you don’t really notice them.
Battery life is quite poor, especially if you’re using them for a video call. I charged them quite a few times throughout the day. The wifi signal also tends to be rather poor – walking around our office, which is well blanketed with access points, a video call tends to get choppy if you get too far away from an access point.
Setup & Glassware Apps
There is an app available for iOS and Android that aids in setting up the device, since you have no keyboard and really no way to input data, things like setting up a wifi password are done through the app. You type in the AP name and password, and a QR code is generated on screen, which you scan with the glass to get access to the Wifi.
You can then begin installing “Glassware” apps. There is a very limited selection of glassware available, but it’s very much a beta product. Here’s the Glassware I had installed on my borrowed set:
A recipe app. Very simple, but I could see how useful this would be in the kitchen. Just say “Ok Glass, find a recipe for bourbon chicken” and within seconds, you’re presented with “Cards” of different recipes that you can then click on, and view the instructions on how to make a certain dish. You can simply tilt your head up to see the ingredient list at any time. I can see a lot of potential with this.
Facebook integration is dead simple. Take a photo or a video and you have an option to “Share” to facebook, and add a comment by your voice.
Much the same as the facebook glassware app, you can snap a photo or video and share to your google+ page to any of your circles. Photos and videos are also automatically backed up to your google+ profile for easy retrieval on another device.
The New York Times
I didn’t play too much with this one. It periodically adds “Stories” to your Glass Timeline (an aggregation of all the apps and photos and videos you’ve taken and shared recently) and gives you the option to listen to a small audio narration.
An augmented reality language translation app. I thought this was by far the coolest glassware app. Simply look at something in a foreign language, and it changes the words out to their english counterparts instantly. Is it buggy? Sure. Is it perfect? Not even close. Is it a perfect example of the great things that this technology can do? Absolutely. I can imagine a traveler wearing these in a foreign country and looking at signage to figure out where the bathroom is, or what to order on a menu.
Being a Google Product, it’s no suprise that YouTube is basically baked right in. Take a video, share it instantly to Youtube.
I don’t think I ran into a single person today that had seen a pair in the flesh before. These are still incredibly rare, and a few people didn’t even know what they were. Plenty of people were shocked at the $1,500 price tag, but it’s the price you pay to be an early adopter. I think back to the day I waited in line that hot day in june in 2007 to plunk down $499 for the first iPhone, which didn’t have any apps, 3G, and couldn’t do MMS, features that even the dumbest phones at the time had standard.
I feel glass is in a very similar spot, very few people have it, and there is basically nothing you can do with it now, but it has an incredible amount of potential. I didn’t even get to test out one of the best features – turn by turn directions – you need the personal hotspot feature active on your phone, which I don’t have.
I didn’t wear them outside the office really, and I was cautious even in the office to be seen with them on. You feel like everyone is watching you when you have them on. They’re fairly discreet. You can snap on a pair of sunglass lenses and they wouldn’t look too much different from a pair of designer sunglasses.
‚Äî Jason Pleakis (@jpleakis) March 28, 2014
There is already plenty of press about where these are, and aren’t allowed – and all the privacy violations that go with it. I see them igniting a debate much like e-cigarettes – it’s a new world and there aren’t definitive rules about how and where they can be used lawfully.
Will everyone be wearing a pair of these five years from now? I can remember scores of people who wrote off the iphone as a novel piece of technology, just a toy. Is this the next iphone? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.