Google Glass is causing a stir in the technology world, but it is difficult for just anyone to get hold of a pair Google has announced that after previously keeping a tight reign on Glass sales — and although the prototype product remains in beta — anyone can now buy a Google Glass headset, in the US. So long as Google has stock it is on sale. Google said it is still looking for early adopters, also known as Explorers, while engineers continue to work on the hardware and software and third parties add to the ecosystem of apps. But that it is opening up sales. For now, the Google Glass headset is available for sale only in the US, where it costs $1,500, although the team noted that they hope to make Glass more widely available “in the future”. Right now, UK purchasers will need to get a US friend or relative to buy their headset, and then ship it over. It’s possible Google Glass headsets will now appear on eBay, too. In the past when purchasers had to be invited Google prevented such sales. Glass is expected to come out of beta and be officially available for sale sometime this year. Expect the UK to be the next market targeted by Google.
What is Google Glass?
Google’s Project Glass is the next step in wearable technology from smartwatches. In simple terms, Google Glass is the technology behind a smart pair of glasses. Right now only Google makes Google Glass hardware, but in the future it expects spectacles manufacturers to make the hardware using Google’s own software and third-party apps. The current, Google-made glasses don’t have lenses, but instead feature a battery powered headsup display (HUD) that sits just above the right eye. You simply glance upward to view what’s on the display. It’s a bit like having your smartphone built into a pair of glasses, and in the future prescription glasses wearers will be able to add Google Glass to their bins. Google’s Project Glass was announced in 2012 as a concept which many pigeon-holed as ‘vapourware’, something that would never come to fruition. It was given the unofficial name of ‘Google Goggles’. However, Google has continued development and is well on the way to launching the final product.
“We think technology should work for you — to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t,” said Google. “A group of us from Google X started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment.”
What can Google Glass do?
With the combination of the HUD, a camera, microphone and GPS, Google Glass can carry out various tasks – much like a smartphone. To get a list of options you say “Ok Glass”. From here on you can use your voice to operate Google Glass.For example, it can take a picture if you say “take a picture” or send a message that you dictate.
It can also record video, provide information via a Google search, give directions, translate your voice and perform a Google Hangout video call. Additionally, with Google Now, Google Glass can provide information before you even attempt to search for it. For example, it can provide details of a flight. Developers are also creating apps for Google Glass so there’s plenty of potential for other functions.pair of glasses, and in the future prescription glasses wearers will be able to add Google Glass to their bins. Google’s Project Glass was announced in 2012 as a concept which many pigeon-holed as ‘vapourware’, something that would never come to fruition. It was given the unofficial name of ‘Google Goggles’. However, Google has continued development and is well on the way to launching the final product.
Does it work with normal glasses?
The Explorer edition of Google Glass isn’t compatible with regular glasses. However, Google has launched its range of prescription frames that includes two ‘twist-on’ sunglasess. It’s called the Titanium Collection and consists of four different ‘feather-light’ styles — thin, bold, curve and split. The prescription frames are priced at $225 on top of the regular price of Google Glass.
Is there a Google Glass app?
Yes. Google has launched an app called MyGlass to go with Google Glass. It requires Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich or later. It can be used to configure and manage Google Glass.
What colours of Google Glass are there?
Google Glass will be available in five colours: Charcoal, Tangerine, Shale, Cotton and Sky. In other words, black, orange, grey, white and blue.
The future of apps for smartglasses
Experts explore the future of apps for smartglasses, from cooking and fitness to apps for surgeons and engineers There has certainly been a buzz surrounding wearable tech in recent months, but most of the spotlight has been taken by wrist-worn smartwatch devices. However, the other type of wearable tech that’s emerging from companies including Google and Sony is smartglasses – head-mounted displays that are generally controlled using voice commands. Smartglasses aren’t exactly mainstream yet. Arguably the most famous of the bunch is Google Glass, but the prototype is still available only in the US and costs $1,500 (around £900).
Sony’s venture into the smartglasses market is the Sony SmartEyeglass, which is also still in prototype form. Other notable smartglasses include the ReconJet, Vuzix M100 and GlassUp. With all these devices currently being tested and improved, it’s not going to be long before we begin seeing them released for businesses and consumers to use, but what exactly are we going to be using smartglasses for? We spoke with three experts from app design agencies already investigating smartglasses apps.
Will anyone actually use smartglasses?
Matt Pollitt, director at digital design agency 5K, which is currently working on a sailing app for smartglasses, suggests that the technology will GLE GLASS eventually be as popular and game-changing as smartwatches, if not even more so.
“Smartglasses will not just be a scaled-down add-on to existing devices, but an augmentation of a user’s primary sense,” he tells us. “It will open up an entirely new market of wearable devices and their corresponding apps, which we are really excited about.”
Right now, one of the major things holding smartglasses back is the way they look, but Pollitt has high hopes for the future. “As with all mobile technology, it will minaturise, become more discreet and sophisticated, and therefore more popular,” he says. “However, at the moment one of the main barriers we feel as being currently prohibitive to wide-scale adoption is the fact that the technology is still so prominent on your face.”
“Unfortunately, no matter how cool tech-wise some of these products are, when it comes to wearing one for 10-16 waking hours of the day I would feel like a complete wally,” he adds, and we have to agree. “Once this barrier is removed, with the introduction of smart contact lenses or some other non-obtrusive way of having a HUD (head-up display), we really think they will become something people will use all the time.” Richard Goodrum, COO of Race Yourself, a fitness app designed for Google Glass, also believes smartglasses will be popular in the long term. “Smartwatches have for now taken centre stage. However, given that the technology is there and
“No matter how cool some of theseproducts are, I would feel like a completewally wearing them”
that so many companies are working on smartglass technologies, I believe it’s only a matter of time.” “We are likely to see smartglasses break into industries first, so I believe we’ll see the technology being used in areas such as engineering, surgery and also in labs before it hits the high street,” adds James Deakin, technology director at service design company Fjord. “It is going to take time for smartglasses, in their current form, to break down social conventions and reach critical mass.”
“Currently smartglasses are little more than a notification system for your smartphone, and until we start to see real everyday benefits for this type of technology, whether that be in a corporate setting or for consumers, it is going to be hard for people to understand the benefits,” Deakin explains.
What kinds of apps will smartglasses run?
If smartglasses do eventually take off, it’ll be largely because of the apps that they can run. After all, the hardware is nothing without the software to make it useful. There are many different types of apps that can work well with smartglasses. So far, we’ve seen everything from maps, games and photography apps to fitness, home automation and cooking apps.
“It’s an exciting time for smartglasses and their apps,” says Pollitt, adding that it’s a completely different kind of app that needs to be built for smartglasses, as they have parameters that are so vastly different from any other device on the market.
“Exploring new technologies that can change the way people react with content is always a fantastic thing,” Pollitt continues. “Only by taking on these new challenges can you start to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Glasses and HUDs are just another platform with specific environmental and contextual considerations for delivering new and exciting digital experiences.”
Goodrum adds that it’ll be practical applications that offer the end user real value that’ll be successful for smartglasses. “For example, when I use Google Glass, I particularly love the directions and cooking apps,” he explains. “It’s incredibly useful to be hands-free during both activities and not having to look down at my phone.”
It is a little early to tell exactly which apps will be successful and which will be complete failures. “Smartglasses aren’t accessible to all, so it’s hard to predict how they will be used and what consumers will demand from smartglasses,” says Deakin.
“We see sport and fitness as a massive area,” Goodrum goes on to say.
“Both amateur and professional athletes are huge fans of fitness apps, however the reality is that they can be dull and do little to motivate. We’re looking to change that in a big way with visual real-time feedback.”
“The possibilities are vast,” agrees Pollitt. “There are new avenues to explore with regards to a wholly hands-free experience. Voice activation for example and a truly barrier-free augmented reality with seamless integration of real and virtual worlds leads to hundreds of new possibilities.”
“We are building a digital fitness platform across mobile and wearables,” says Goodrum as an example, referring to the Race Yourself app. “Our games and challenges motivate racers to achieve their personal best by allowing them to live-race a three-dimensional avatar of themselves (previous run/cycle), their friends, celebrities, or even flesh eating zombies pursuing at their target pace. Race Yourself will provide you with real-time on-screen encouragement during your exercise.”
Meanwhile, Pollitt’s app, VELA, is designed for sailing enthusiasts. “It’s a sailing tool that sits across your tablet and the Recon Jet to provide a connected ecosystem for the sailing community, both on and off the water. The tablet experience allows you to plan, share and sync your sailing activities, giving you access to live information through the Recon Jet glasses as you sail.”
“The reason we chose to use Recon Jet as the smartglass platform is that it is designed for a specific
“There are plenty of situations where voice commands aren’t appropriate or are even quite rude”
use case – sporting activities,” Pollitt continues. “The glasses are designed to be used when performing a specific task, so it doesn’t interfere with general social interaction and becomes a really focused experience, augmenting existing aides.”
“Coupled with the fact that the Sony Xperia tablet is waterproof, it seemed like a great marriage. However, it’s important to note that the glasses are not the whole story,” he notes.
“They extend the eco-system we are trying to evolve with the VELA community as a whole, allowing them to attach pictures they have taken to the adventures they go
“No-one wants to sit next to the crazy guy on the train ranting to himself and repeatedly tapping the side of his head”
on and giving updated weather and nautical information in a way that lets them keep their hands free and focused on the sailing.”
There are limitations that come with smartglasses, though, all of which can make developing apps for the wearable technology particularly challenging. “The most obvious one is battery,” says Goodrum.
“For example, Google Glass can last up to one day with careful usage, however the reality is that it can drain much faster than this.”
Pollitt thinks that the biggest challenge is how people actually interact with smartglasses. “Google have chosen voice commands but there are plenty of situations where this isn’t appropriate or potentially even quite rude. Cultural acceptance is key to wide scale adoption of technology.
No-one wants to have to sit next to the crazy guy on the train ranting to himself and repeatedly tapping the side of his head.” We’ve only just become accustomed to people talking on their phones using their microphoneequipped headphones, so it’s likely to take a long time for us to feel comfortable around those talking to their glasses.
“I am hoping that other control methods can be developed, such as non-obtrusive controls on your wrist or in the palm of your hand,” adds Pollitt.