Tech Watch: Google Glass

Category:  Tech Watch
Monday, May 20th, 2013 at 2:19 PM

So far I have not given much consideration to the head-mounted display, wearable computer currently under development known as Google Glass.  Recently though, I was asked by someone who was clearly excited about the emerging technology what my thoughts on it were.  I had to admit that I was relatively clueless to the capabilities and purpose of the soon to come device.

I had seen articles and heard new stories of the wearable computer but never took the time to read into them, because I suppose I often wrote the device off as being silly and impractical, especially when I saw users wearing prototypes that looked like something out of a sci-fi movie.  But once I become aware that some people out there are actually looking forward to the new technology I decided to do some research. 

As I dove into the information available – taking it all with a grain of salt because, well, I was still skeptical –  the most appropriate summary I could find came from a tweet posted by a user named Matt Novak.  “Google Glass is so futuristic it's like wearing a Segway on your face,” Novak critiqued in a 140 characters or less. 

By this he means Google Glass might be a neat version of the future, but they also awkward and unnecessary – just like a Segway.  From the videos that have been released, the device appears to be very cool… but ultimately, it is hard to me envision it as practical.

My initial thoughts of the device brought a comparison to a Bluetooth headset – a great product that eliminated the need to use ones hands while talking on a cell phone and a great solution for while a user is driving.  But all one had to do was plug a clunky piece of futuristic technology in their ear.

A cool futuristic technology with a practical purpose? Awesome! Although, I never understood the users who wear their headset every waking moment.  This often times make them appear crazy, because let’s face it, we all thought one time or another that someone was actually talking to themselves – all depending on whether the device was visible. 

This could also be an issue with the Google Glass.

But enough about why I think the product is silly and my reservations about the Segue-esque technology. Here’s a quick rundown of its predicted capabilities:

Google Glass is comprised of a camera, a display, a touchpad, a battery, and a microphone built into spectacle frames so that you can perch a display in your field of vision, capture pictures and videos, search for whatever you want, and translate on the go.

Google Glass uses display technology to put data within your vision courtesy of a prism screen. This is designed to be easily seen without obstructing your view (hard for me to believe that won’t be distracting).

According to Google, the display is "the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from eight feet away."  Predictions say the Glass will probably work best alongside an Android phone, although users will be able to pair with any Bluetooth-enabled phone.

Now this part is cool: Google Glass can also provide “audio,” with bone-induction technology. This vibrates your skull to create sound, which is both a bit horrific sounding but also much less cumbersome than traditional headphones.

Third parties are also already developing some rather cool/scary apps for Google Glass – including one that allows you to identify your friends in a crowd, and another that allows you to dictate an email. Developers were able to get their hands on an “Explorer Edition,” which was available through a lottery system to a limited number of users who then had the option to purchase them for $1,500 from Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York.

To recap, I think we might look silly walking around with a computer on our faces all of the time. But maybe I am the minority here and these computers that strap to our faces will become an acceptable piece of fashion and technology in our future.  Perhaps everyone will wear them, students will use them in the classroom, and they will become an integral part of our everyday lives. 

If this holds true, this article will be hilarious to anyone looking back on it – especially if they’re reading it on Google Glass.

Wait, but how do you get them, you ask? You can’t… yet. They’ll be available late this year (TBA), so keep your eyes open for more info to be released.


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