With speculation of Apple’s growing interest in wearable computing and a smart watch-like gadget the company’s reportedly working on, it’s worth remembering Google entered the space in a big way with last year’s astonishing on-stage demonstration of its Android-driven augmented-reality eye-wear, Google Glass.
Project Glass products display information in a smartphone-like format hands-free, and can interact with the Internet via natural language voice commands. The eye wear’s functionality and minimalist appearance (aluminum strip with 2 nose pads) has been compared to Steve Mann’s Eye Tap and uses Google’s Android operating system.
Essentially, Glass’ main priority is to move the interactions we’ve grown accustom to with our smartphones and tablets to the hands-free convenience of a pair of glasses. An Android-powered head-mounted display resides just above the right eye, producing a small heads-up display image with information like travel directions and video messaging, all accessible by Siri-like voice commands. A 720p camera is embedded in the front of the device, allowing the wearer to take pictures or perhaps even stream live video.
Project Glass is being developed by Google X Lab which has worked on other futuristic technologies such as driverless cars. The project was announced on Google+ by Babak Parviz, an electrical engineer who has also worked on putting displays into contact lenses; Steve Lee, a project manager and “geolocation specialist”; and Sebastian Thrun, who developed Udacity as well as worked on the self-driving car project. Google has patented the design of Project Glass.Thad Starner is a Technical/Lead Manager on the project.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin took the stage at TED Wednesday morning for an unscheduled, low-key talk on Google Glass. His aim: to reveal a little bit of the thinking behind the two-year-old project and why he thinks the eyeglass-based always-connected screen is less intrusive than constantly checking your smartphone.
Brin admitted he was as guilty as anyone else of repeatedly checking email and social media on his phone “as if it was something really important.” It was comparable to a smoking habit, he said. “I had a nervous tic. But with Google Glass, I’ve really enjoyed exploring the world more.”
Finally, he cautioned that the device had a long way to go still — and that the success of Google Glass was far from assured, despite tremendous interest in the tech world.
Though head-worn displays for augmented reality are not a new idea, the project has drawn media attention primarily due to its backing by Google, as well as the prototype design, which is smaller and slimmer than previous designs for head-mounted displays The first Project Glass demo resembles a pair of normal eyeglasses where the lens is replaced by a head-up display. In the future, new designs may allow integration of the display into people’s normal eye wear.
The New York Times originally reported that Google Glass would be available to the public for “around the cost of current smartphones” by the end of 2012, but other reports have stated that the glasses are not expected to be available for purchase soon. The product (Google Glass Explorer Edition) will be available to United States Google I/O developers for $1,500, to be delivered in early 2013,while a consumer version is stated to be ready within a year of that.
Google originally targeted 2014 for a consumer release when it revealed Project Glass last year, but the time frame has seemingly sped up in recent months, what with developer hackathons in San Francisco and New York and this week’s announcement that people looking to put Glass to creative use could go through an application process to preorder the augmented reality specs for $1,500.
The plastic components of Google Glass will debut in five colors: gray, orange, black, white, and light blue.
An “Explorer” edition of Glass will snap on to a pair of sunglasses, and there is talk of deals with prescription spectacle sellers Warby Parker to produce a Glass model for those of us with weaker vision. The device links up with built-in Wi-Fi, and can tether via Android or iPhone.
Need of Google Glass
Like any piece of new tech, the usefulness of Glass will probably vary from person to person. Primarily, Glass is a way to communicate hands-free, to keep in touch with our loved-ones and friends without the need to hold onto a smartphone. But the device is also a way to share experiences. A recent demo video from Google attempts to show “how it feels” to use Glass, and the implications of streaming a truly first-person perspective video out into the world are massive.
Cool things you can do by Google glass:
Glass shows off what options users have available, ranging from taking pictures, engaging in a Google Hangout, recording a video, or sharing with others.
Glass can pop up a reminder on your screen to, well, remind you of an upcoming appointment or other meeting that you have planned.
Like one of the cards that pops up in Android, Google Glass hopes to be able to deliver to you the current weather.
4. Dictate Texts
There’s no reason why Glass can’t be used to dictate texts or short messages to others, using the built-in microphone, Google’s cloud-based speech recognition, and a wireless connection.
5. Travel Alerts
I’ve never seen an alert when a public transportation link has been severed or is inoperable, but I assume Google has the capability to do so. This would be a handy feature.
I’m not sure a “full-screen” overlay would be the most ideal rendering of map data, but this would certainly be a handy feature to have in most cases.
Naturally, Google Glass users can take photos. This is in Glass today, although the photos (unsurprisingly) seem to have rather poor quality compared to even a mobile phone camera.
8. Hangout(With screen sharing)
A nice touch. With Glass, there’s every reason to believe that not only could you join a Google Hangout, you could share what you’re seeing. In fact, with no self-facing camera, that might be the only way to communicate.
And a lot of other things like sharing locations, viewing interior maps, turn by turn directions and many more.
Glass will mean the next step towards a future where wearable computing is the norm. Or maybe, it will take years before such devices grow into common usage. Regardless, Glass has the potential to completely alter the computing and mobile industries.
Google glass will change the future!!!