The Basics of Google Glass: What You Need to Know
Recently, I was lucky enough to attend a live Google Glass demonstration by Champlain College professor, Jonathan Rajewski. For those who don’t know, Google Glass is currently beta testing their product through a group of carefully picked “Explorers”. Explorers are chosen by their influence, technology credentials, and intentions in using Glass. If approved, they can purchase a pair for $1500.
During the demonstration, Google Glass was connected to two large on-stage monitors, showing the crowd exactly what the user was seeing. Essentially, Google Glass operates by accepting commands that come after a user-defined key phrase. Once paired with a smartphone through Bluetooth. Glass can be used to do anything you would typically do on a smartphone – from making a call to displaying Google Search information.
I was impressed by the quality of Glass’s voice recognition. Rejewski was never misheard and rarely, if ever, had to repeat a command. This draws favorable comparisons to products like Apple’s Siri. On the other hand, Google Glass does not yet have the ability to differentiate its user’s voice from others in the crowd.
Another neat feature of Google Glass was its method of communicating information to the user. Glass uses a method called bone conduction to privately “speak” to its user; it vibrates on a bone just behind the ear and the vibrations are interpreted by the ear, like any other sound. The result is audio that only the user can hear, without blocking out nearby sounds.
As part of the presentation, Rajewski showed some of the potential applications for Glass. The key benefit of Glass is its ability to provide handsfree, location-relevant information. For example, it could be useful in providing anything from on-the-street restaurant reviews to flight delay information on the cab ride to the airport.
In just a few months of using Google Glass, Rajewski described how using the product became second nature. He told an anecdote about a time when his son reached up to hold his hand and he instinctually thought to ask Glass to take a picture – even though he wasn’t wearing the product. It’s a little eerie how a technology like Glass can become a thing of habit.
Through his experience, Rajewski had only a few complaints. He listed the short battery life, lack of storage, temperature susceptibilities, unintentional interaction with other Bluetooth devices, and limited availability of service/replacement as areas for improvement. Obviously, Glass may address some of these points before coming to the open market.
All in all, Google Glass has a tremendous potential to impact everyday life. Though it could benefit from a couple of technological and service upgrades, Google Glass is already addictive. Glass is shooting for consumer release at the end of 2013. Until then, I’ll look to keep an eye out for developments as Glass seeks to carve its niche