Google Glass - Life Through A Lens

8/4/2013 9:05:13 PM

Only at Google 10 in techy-sawy San Francisco could a Google Glass wearer walk the streets relatively unnoticed, limited number of these new wearable computing J devices have been among the public for months now, and they generally elicit double takes and curious stares.

There were plenty of those lucky Glass owners among the 10 crowd, as well as Google reps standing by to demonstrate the technology. At the conference, we had the opportunity to try on Glass, and unbox one of the kits passed out to select developers. Google Glass is an attempt to free data from desktop computers and place it right in front of your eyes.

Essentially, it’s a camera, display, touchpad, battery and microphone built into spectacle frames so that you can perch a transparent display in your field of vision, film, take pictures, search and translate on the go. The principle is one that has been around for years in science fiction, and more recently it’s become a slightly clunky reality. So while the privacy paranoids worry about what it all means, let’s have a goggle at Google Glass...

Google glass

Just like a normal pair of glasses, Google Glass needs just a bit of adjustment to be worn properly. It mainly comes down to the nose pads, which make sure that Glass’ titanium band runs slightly above the eye line, like a sunshade or visor.

That way, the rectangular screen, which looks something like a prism, sits just above the eye. Using the screen requires you to look up slightly, which helps to keep your field of vision unobstructed.

Lighter than a pair of normal spectacles, we imagine it would be easy to forget you were wearing them, if not for all the stares.

Turning on Glass

Glass goes to sleep when not in use, and you can wake it by simply nodding up. This isn’t just to save power, but to keep your field of vision clear when you don’t need any info. Google reps said that Glass’ battery would last all day with “average use” but we didn’t get enough time to test that. Just like a smartphone, though, it has micro-USB for charging, and lots of video recording will wear it down before the day is out.

Lighter than a pair of normal spectacles, we imagine it would be easy to forget you were wearing them, if not for all the stares

The Google Glass interface is a lot like Google Now, which is found on any Android Jelly Bean smartphone. From the main screen, saying “Okay, Glass,” gets the device’s attention, so to speak, and prompts Glass to show you available commands. There are also Google Now cards - screens of information related to recent searches.

They’re pretty minimalist, white text on a black background, sometimes with a single image. We swiped through nearby restaurants, email chains and Recendy captured pictures and videos. This is done using a touchpad built into the right side of the headset. You can also tap to make selections.

An extension of your smartphone

While Glass has its own 12GB flash memory, Wi-Fi connection, GPS, and CPU, all working with Android 4.2, it works best as an extension of your smartphone.

It can pair with an Android phone using Bluetooth, which allows it to make calls as well as send and receive text messages. In that way it felt more like the ultimate hands-free device than a wearable computer.

It also suffers a similar stigma to the Bluetooth earpiece, in that it’s distracting and a bit goofy looking. Basically, you look like someone out of Star Trek. Whether that’s Geordi La Forge or a Borg drone is in the eye of the beholder. The irony is that it is technology designed for subdety that ends up speaking volumes.

It can pair with an Android phone using Bluetooth, which allows it to make calls as well as send and receive text messages

It talks back

Speaking of speaking, Google Glass can actually talk to you. There’s a little speaker that sits over your right ear which was completely audible to someone standing within earshot, providing the room wasn’t too loud.

We asked Glass who the president of the United States was, and it responded with a snippet of Barack Obama’s biography. We had trouble hearing it over the din of the commotion around us, but moving to a back room, it was perfectly audible, and spoke in the lady robot tones of Google Now.

You also have to look up to read the screen, so broken eye contact will be a dead giveaway. Your friends will know when you’re checking football scores instead of listening to them.

It was also far less like augmented reality than we’d imagined. Putting it on, we thought we would see a HUD of some sort, like in a first-person shooter video game. Really though, we felt more like a multitasking administrator than Robocop on patrol for creeps. Even the GPS function just gives you a top down view, with a blue arrow representing your location, just like Google Maps on your phone.

So is Glass cool and entirely novel? Yes, it certainly is. Is it a device that will change the life of, or even just prove useful to, the average consumer? That’s doubtful.

Google glass specs


·         Adjustable nosepads and durable frame fits any face.

·         Extra nosepads in two sizes.


·         High resolution display is the equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away.


·         Photos - 5 MP

·         Videos - 720p


·         Bone Conduction Transducer


·         Wi-Fi - 802.11b/g

·         Bluetooth


·         12 GB of usable memory, synced with Google cloud storage. 16 GB Flash total.


·         One full day of typical use. Some features, like Hangouts and video recording, are more battery intensive.


·         Included Micro USB cable and charger.

·         While there are thousands of Micro USB chargers out there, Glass is designed and tested with the included charger in mind. Use it and preserve long and prosperous Glass use.


·         Any Bluetooth-capable phone.

·         The MyGlass companion app requires Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. MyGlass enables GPS and SMS messaging.

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