Google Glass

,Google Glass Viewer

Google Project Glass, Fair Use

Google Glass is a lightweight headset which projects a voice-activated computer interface over your field of vision. Google's technical specifications state that viewing the Glass display is equivalent to viewing a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away. Glass's voice-activated ability to take photos, record video, and lookup information from the Web are impressive features. However it is Glass's ability to evaluate visual data and display real-time results that show promise for augmented reality developers. To add to the excitement, many developers were pleased to hear that Google Glass would run on an Android-based operating system.



What it Does and How it Works

Google Glass can connect to either iOS or Android devices using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. When Glass is offline, it can only take photos and videos. When connected to a mobile device it can access the Internet and also perform such standard functions as Google searches, making phone calls, sending text messages, and getting navigation or weather reports. Martin Missfeldt created the following infographic which illustrates how Google Glass works.

,Glass Infographic

Glass Infographic by Martin Missfeldt





Glass Explorers

Google Project Glass created a Glass Explorer program which released 10,000 devices to developers and consumers in the Spring of 2013. This resulted in several reviews and articles about people's experiences with Google Glass. The article Google Glass Teardown describes picking up a Google Glass from the Mountain View Google campus and performs a hardware teardown showing all the hardware components.

,Google Project Glass

Google Project Glass, Fair Use



Concept Video

What will life be like with this new technology? Below is an early concept video called "One Day". It was made by Google when Project Glass was just getting started.





Parody Video

From a different perspective, there are many parody videos about Google Glass. The one below is called "ADmented Reality - Google Glasses Remixed with Google Ads".



Glassware

Software applications which run on Google Glass are called Glassware. Stained Glass Labs launched in May 2013 to assist companies that are developing software for wearable technologies like Google Glass. They claim their site Google Glass APPs is the first Google Glassware directory for Google Glass applications. Some of the applications listed on their site include:

  1. MedRef - the app lets you find and create patient folders by voice, add photo and voice notes, view previous notes, and also find patient folders by facial recognition.
  2. NavCook - a turn by turn navigation for cooking.
  3. Fancy - take a picture of your item and then shop for a coordinated fancy products item.

For more information about coding Glassware, see my Coding Glassware article.




Glass Free Zones

Months before the public launch of Google Glass, one Seattle bar had already established a ban against them. Since then several establishments have a Glass ban in place. Stop The Cyborgs has signs for creating "Glass Free Zones". How Glass technology will be used is raising legal and ethical questions. The US Congress sent Google a letter listing eight areas of privacy concerns with Goggle Glass. Additionally, authorities from several countries have asked Google to address their privacy concerns with Google Glass. Besides the privacy concerns with Glass's ability to take photographs and record videos, there are concerns about Glass's ability to detect eye-movement. An application called Winky is available thru GitHub that allows a Glass user to take a photograph by just using their eye. Some privacy analysts fear that applications could be developed to track the eye movement of the wearer. The eye-movement data could then be used to infer aspects of the wearer's mental state.

,Google Glass Banned

Image by Stop The Cyborgs


Contact Lens Displays

An article in MIT Technology Review titled Contact Lens Computer: Like Google Glass, without the Glasses reports researchers developed lenses made of nanomaterials which function as electronic contact lenses. The article states: "soft contact lenses could display information to the wearer and provide continuous medical monitoring". Jang-Ung Park, a chemical engineer at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, wants to make a contact-lens display with similar functionality to Google Glass. The article continues:

Park, working with Sung-Woo Nam of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that sandwiching silver nanowires between sheets of graphene yielded a composite with much lower electrical resistance than either material alone. The industry standard for a transparent conductor is a resistance of 50 ohms per square or less, says Nam; their material has a resistance of about 33 ohms per square. The material also transmits 94 percent of visible light, and it stretches. The researchers make these conductive sheets by depositing liquid solutions of the nanomaterials on a spinning surface, such as a contact lens, at low temperatures.

Summary

The age of wearable technology is emerging and bringing with it a number of legal and ethical issues. The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft has been prototyping AR glasses similar to Google Glass (Microsoft Tests Eyewear Similar to Rival Google Glass). As wearable technology becomes more mainstream it could have a significant impact on our daily lives.