With Google’s phenomenal growth, it was only a matter of time before they had another stab at hardware and this time it’s meant to be a game-changer. Google Glass is hailed as a new form of mobile technology by which we will rid ourselves of keyboards and monitors forever. But what’s it all about, why are people so worked up, and how do you get one?
What’s It All About?
The premise is that using your hands to perform basic tasks like getting your phone out of your pocket and typing on a keyboard will be made redundant by a “revolutionary interface”. With Google Glass, access to information is instant and intuitive as data is projected into your field of vision that can be interacted with through voice commands and touches to the frame.
Their vision is that this “wearable computing” will become as popular as the modern smartphone and will transform our connection with technology – making it more portable and more intuitively intertwined with our day-to-day lives.
A Google Glass device includes: a 5 megapixel camera (which can record 720p video), 16GB of storage, a touchpad on the side of the frame, Wifi, and Bluetooth. You can make calls/texts, film video, take pictures, check your email, find your destination via GPS, and search the internet hands free.
To achieve this experience, the Glass uses a small prism to project various interactive visual elements into the top-right area of your vision. This is designed to augment your reality so that you have continual access to information that can be layered on top of your normal field of vision; the screen that is projected is reported to be the equivalent of looking at a 25-inch HD screen from 8 feet. As soon as data is overlaid over your vision, the benefits of Glass become very clear – GPS functionality becomes a seamless and intuitive experience, real-time translation is easy and hands free, and notifications from calls, texts, and emails are immediate and easy to deal with.
Equally, the voice-recognition is meant to be extremely good and functions as well for calls as it does for voice commands (even in crowded rooms). When interviewed by The Guardian, Andrej Kostresevic stated that “I can walk around all day and respond to emails and text messages just by speaking, even in noisy rooms – it’s really cool.”
Why Should I Care?
You’re not alone in asking this question, many people are confused as to the value and practicality of continually “wearing” your phone or laptop (which is essentially the premise of this technology). Opinion ranges drastically from the extremely conservative nay-sayers who fear its effect on our human relationships and privacy, to the fanatics who believe it will change technology forever and pledge to wear it in the most extreme of places.
In the same interview, Kostresevic qualified his earlier praise with the sentiment “however Glass is a bit of a mixed bag… overall feeling is just that it’s kind of a tease; it’s a glimpse into what could be possible, but the technology just isn’t there yet.” Major criticisms are levelled at the short battery life, the screen being hard to see in daylight, and the lack of applications and functionality.
As CNET’s editor-in-chief Lindsey Turrentine states; “frankly it needs to be more useful. Right now for instance, it doesn’t even report stock quotes. Once there are more apps, it’ll be more useful.”
It’s worth stressing that Google is primarily a software company and they have had mixed success with their previous ventures in to hardware, equally there seems to be a conservative backlash against the technology over concerns of privacy. As Turrentine also comments “there’s no social pact about when you can record things and when you can’t…and I know that a lot of CNET’s audience have real concerns about what a world full of very subtle cameras means.”
These issues aside, there seems to be an ecstatic momentum surrounding Glass from within the Google campus that you can’t help but get carried away with it. From the ridiculous launch event with skydivers and BMXers donning the device, to the global competition and pre-launch fan base of 8,000 testers, the feeling is that Google is backing this 100%. So with that much weight behind it, the chances are this will be something significant.
How Do I Get A Google Glass?
Unfortunately you can’t. Not yet at least, the brilliant minds at Google allowed a sample of 8,000 contest winners who submitted a 50 word summary of what they would do if they won the device. These avid testers have been getting a first glimpse since late March but it didn’t come cheap; the device still cost them $1500 so Google is obviously keen to ensure their perceived value stays high (at the cost of tainting their benevolent public image by charging so much for a test product).
The rumour mill has been going crazy as to whether they’re going to do another competition or whether they’ll be launching to the consumer market by Christmas. I won’t add to this speculation other than to say that the best way to stay up to date, is to sign up to Google Glass’s official mailing list at http://www.google.com/glass/start/how-to-get-one.
Just make sure that if you do get one, you use it for the good of mankind and not…
Fraser specialises in technology, gadgets, and adventure sports. He often writes for specialist blogs such as The History Of Batteries as well as his own blog UK Gadget Review. He spends most of his time buying gadgets, sailing, camping, and falling out of planes.