Google Glass (Explorer Version) - An Exciting Innovation And Potential Device (Part 2)

8/10/2013 9:22:47 AM

Wireless and connectivity

When Glass was first introduced, many people have assumed that it would be entirely dependent on smartphones (especially, one of the Android variety) to operate. It turns out that is not true. It can work quite happily with Wi-Fi connectivity (802.11b / g) or Bluetooth data connection - right, even if that data is coming through an iPhone.

Glass is a completely independent device. This means you can leave your phone behind and go anywhere with Wi-Fi connection without losing connection. But that poses one unfortunate problem. Since Glass is independent, not retrieving data through a dedicated application or so, your wireless carrier will treat it just like any other tablet or laptop. If your current package does not include Bluetooth data tethering, you likely have to pay to add it. That could make an already pricey device even more expensive to run.


The Glass's display is an exciting stuff. When you wear glasses, you can look straight through the transparent parts and hardly even see it. It only minimally refracts the light that's beaming toward your eye. But if you look at it from above, you can clearly see the reflection surface embedded inside at a 45-degree angle, creating the screen that your eyes see.

you can clearly see the reflection surface embedded inside at a 45-degree angle

You can clearly see the reflection surface embedded inside at a 45-degree angle

The screen itself is skewed to the right, built into the headset and beaming light into the clear piece from the side, which then hits that sliver of material and reflects into your eye. It is an interesting arrangement and its actual result is a vivid picture seemed to be floating in space. Google says it's "the equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away", and that sounds fine - except that we're not sure about the high-definition clause.

Google did not specify the resolution, but we know the developers are advised to work with an array of 640x360 pixels. Individual pixels aren't immediately apparent, but the level of detail of the display doesn't come anywhere near your average, high-PPI smartphone display these days. You will rarely see more than 6 rows of text at a time.

Colors aren't exactly consistent and the whole thing similarly lacks the accuracy of a modern LCD or OLED display. It's almost has a design of an old-school passive-matrix LCD panel, with its occasionally murky hues. There is also another problem: the rainbow. If you already unfortunately own one DLP TV a few years ago, you will be familiar with the rainbow effect caused by the spinning color wheel. Moving your eyes side-to-side quickly on those sets created a dazzling, chromatic demonstration that would make a unicorn dizzy. The problem is less problematic here, but it is immediately apparent.

Finally, while the contrast is quite good, the screen view in sunlight can be a problem. That is especially true if you use the bundled accessories sunglasses, which inserts between your eyes and the Glass's screen. In this way, Glass creates a really good pair of sunglasses, but it does reduce the brightness and contrast of the screen.

Glass creates a really good pair of sunglasses, but it does reduce the brightness and contrast of the screen.

Glass creates a really good pair of sunglasses, but it does reduce the brightness and contrast of the screen.

Setup and User interface

Setting up a Google Glass is extremely easy. Install MyGlass application (requires Android 4.0.3 or higher) on the phone and tap a few choices to pair a new headset. Bluetooth is activated and one large QR code appears. Keep it in front of your face (of course while wearing Glass), and Glass are now logged into your account.

How Google Glass works

How Google Glass works

When finished, you can use the application or go to to configure your headset. As mentioned above, setup is limited, but through a big, tiled interface, you can select which contacts are accessible by name (only 10 are possible now), which of your Google+ circles you'd like to have the option of sharing content with, which Glas applications are enabled (Google+, Gmail, Google Now and Path are present by default) and which Wi-Fi networks you want your headset to connect to.

From here you can also bring up Google Maps to display the current position of the headset, useful if it should be accidentally removed from your face. We were disappointed about the limitations of the security features of Glass. You can also delete it from afar, but there's no way to set any protection on it, meaning that if you put it on the table and leave, anyone can get it, put it on and start sending uncouth emails and pictures to your contacts.

Once you throw Glass on your face, the interface is really not much different, just flattened down to two dimensions. It's a bit like Sony's XrossMediaBar, in which you move left and right across a grid of options. Unlike the XMB, you can’t move up or down. Instead, each icon in the row represents something and you tap to dive into it. Swipe downward to exit and jump back up a level, or turn off the Glass display if you're already at the top.

You can activate the screen in 2 ways: tilting your head up or tapping the capacitive touch portion on the side. The default display is a clock with "ok glass" written below. It's actually quite useful, because looking up is a fast and easy way to view time, although it would be better if you can turn off the "ok glass".

If you use the touch controls, you can swipe forward or backward. Swiping forward take you back in time, with all recently captured photos and videos mixed in chronologically with emails, messages and notifications from apps. Swipe backward from start screen and you will have the Google Now cards and a screen shows the connection status and battery life. Tap your finger and you'll move one screen at a time, but if sliding it faster along the length of the Glass, you will rotate through multiple screens.

Tap on any of these options to bring up a context menu. For example, tapping on one photo or video allows you to share or delete it. Tapping on an email allows you to read e-mail or reply. Take a few minutes to learn the basics, but you know what, it's easy to grasp quickly.


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