There has been a lot of buzz in the media about Google Glass and many people are asking what the buzz is all about. In most ways, Google Glass is like a smart device except you wear it like a pair of glasses instead of carrying it in your pocket. Bluetooth headsets that allow you to talk on the phone without pulling it out of your pocket have been around for a while; Google Glass extends that concept to include video and some basic controls. In addition to audio, there is a small display for viewing content that is projected in front the eye, and a camera for taking pictures and recording video.
The display is a reflection from a small crystal like screen that makes the image appear to float in front of your eye. The glass lenses in Google Glass aren’t actually used at all, and some promo shots are even shown without them. That being said, there are clear and tinted designs that to have lenses, and sunglass and prescription lens manufactures are expected to produce integrated models if Google Glass is successful. To activate Google Glass, you just tilt the head back or touch the control surface. The side of bar of Google Glass is a touch sensitive surface that is used to control the device. Swiping backward or forward moves the display through a series of screens such as email or pictures, while tapping it makes selections. Alternatively, voice recognition can be used to control some Google Glass features once it is active.
Once you get past the unique interface, Google Glass functions much like a typical smart phone. There are options for retrieving and reading email, viewing photos and street navigation to name a few. It functions best when paired with a phone so it can utilize the phones data connection, GPS, or make phone calls. Glass uses the Android operating system and works well with any Android phone. However, Google Glass does have built in Wi-Fi and 16GB of internal storage so it can connect to a data network and be used as a standalone device.
Google Glass is not currently available to consumers. An explorer edition, which is essentially a prototype, was made available to developers and early adopters that were willing to shell out $1,500 this summer. The explorer edition required pre-registration by applicants and is now closed. Price and availability for a general consumer version has not yet been released but rumors have projected they may be available in late 2013 or early 2014. While Google Glass is getting all the press, and rightly so since they pioneered the idea, it is worth noting that many competitors currently have similar products in development.
Google Glass is not without controversy as some people have expressed concerns on privacy and safety issues. The concerns with safety have to do with distracted driving, or using Google Glass while operating equipment. The privacy concerns are due to the built in camera that gives wearers the ability to take pictures and record video. Both of these concerns are already present with exiting smart devices and laws are already spreading to address the issues.
What do you think about Google’s newest innovation? Will you be lining up to get your Google Glass as soon as it’s released?