Google Glass

My co-worker Mary knows someone with a set of Google Glass and so she was invited in to talk to a few of us here at Opto.

Cecilia had signed up for the first batch of Google Glass, which required a nice chunk of change to the tune of 1500 bucks, and a solid commitment to attend a given amount of developer conferences. Two reasons right there why I was not among the Google faithful on the first go around.
That said, I was very grateful at the unexpected opportunity to look at a set.

Cecilia did a very brief overview of the project and then opened the floor to questions, of which there were more than I can remember, but off the top of my head;
They last about a day with intermittent use, one recharge at lunch will see a full days use with ease.
Connection to your phone is via bluetooth. The phone does the bulk of the heavy lifting.
There is an iOS app, but its development lags the Android app.
You can view websites, but its rather limited. You navigate around the site by moving your head, the ‘mouse’ tracks your movements and then you tap the side of the frame to click. (But this is not the most ideal task for the device).

After the Q&A died down a few of us took the opportunity to try them on;

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Cecilia helped me do a few quick adjustments so that I could see the full image.
(Sorry about the blurry photo, Mary was taking photos with her cell phone).

Here I am using them to get directions to LAX;

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The experience was really seamless and very intuitive. I’m also really pleased to report that the voice recognition was perfect (and is making me think about trying it again on my cell phone).
You simply see a 20 inch monitor about arms length in front of you when you look up and to the right.

I was surprised how quickly you got used to them and in no time they just became like a regular pair of glasses, but of course, a little heavier.
Since the monitor it projects is at arms length, I did not need my reading glasses to read it, which is perfect, since I would only wear these when I am away from my desk.
The combination of voice navigation, swiping the arm to navigate and tapping the arm to click would take more getting used to than looking up at the image.

I was impressed at how quickly (a matter of 30 seconds or so) I got used to being able to look ahead at the others in the room, and then just flick my eyes up and to the right to see the screen. It took a small shift in focus, but not enough to slow me down, like I do when I look at a book (or my smartwatch).
I suspect that for those with better (ie, younger) vision, the shift in focus would be ‘invisible’.

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This is the first version, and just like my (yet to be blogged about) Pebble smartwatch is rough around the edges.
Google just in the last few days have announced the next version;
You can see it here.
Not as physically different as I was expecting, I guess the current shape works well enough for most people…. Which, based on my 2-3 minutes with it, is true.
The earbud is a great idea as I did have trouble hearing the ‘speaker’ in the current version.

In my opinion the most compelling aspect is having a ‘computer’ display so close to your line of vision.
Its very similar to my smartwatch, its compelling for me as it brings my phone ‘display’ (or status) closer to my vision.
I’m excited about the concept of being able to monitor an automation process with such ease by using a set of these. They would have been just fantastic at the hospital whenever I was setting up a new process. Steam heat exchangers, PID loops in general, alarms, refrigeration and so on. In my mind this is where they are going to excel, giving someone the ability to seamlessly monitor a second process while they work on a primary task.
They are not a recreation device, they are a tool. I think thats where a lot of the first reaction to them has gone wrong, people are trying to see where they can fit them into their lives… They see them as a solution looking for a problem… The point is, in the average Joe Blows life, he does not have a problem for them to solve. They are going to look odd walking down the street for a little while, but in a hospital or other workplace, I suspect it will be odd only for 6-8 months. Once the second version is released to the public, and other companies start selling them, the floodgates will open. They are a very useful tool for those of us that have to use computer information to do our jobs.

In conclusion, I am very grateful to Mary and Cecilia for giving of their time to set this up.
I really liked what I saw and can see a use case in my future. There is no question that in time, I will be getting a pair, whether from Google or some other company.
The one thing that I would like to see is a higher resolution screen, the current 640×360 is just limited in what you can display…. Once that is improved, sign me up!

Here is a very comprehensive FAQ about Google Glass if you want to know more.