If you have been paying attention over the last year or so you have probably noticed wearable technology popping up all over the place. It seems like everyone is wearing some form of fitness tracker these days. While the purpose of a fitness tracker is rather clear, the same cannot easily be said of other wearables such as smart watches and glasses. Recently I was afforded the opportunity to participate in the Google Glass Explorer program and as I close out my first 30 days with the device, I wanted to take to the CDW Solutions Blog and share my experience with everyone.
Unpacking and setting up the device was fairly straight forward. Ease of set up is pretty much an expectation with technology these days and Google delivers on that promise. As you can see from the image below instructions are ingrained throughout the packaging. In the box we have Glass, detachable sunglasses, an ear bud, carrying case, and a standard USB charger.
The Glass device itself seems rather well constructed. Its light and comfortable to wear and easily adjusts for the perfect fit.
Since I live in Arizona I was delighted to see that Glass comes with detachable sunglasses. These attach by simply sliding the lenses between the nose pads and up against the bridge. The only issue I see here is keeping the lenses clean of smudges when taking them on and off.
Lastly Glass has a removable ear bud that can be adjusted for length.
The inner workings of Glass are detailed in the photo below. They include an internal and external facing camera, microphone, track pad surface, and the Heads up Display screen.
- The optical view screen is essentially a Heads up Display (or HUD) that projects an image onto a prism. The image quality is actually pretty good considering the small size of the screen.
- An interior camera tracks eye movement. While this feature is currently limited to winks, there are a number of developer applications in the making that actually track your full eye movement.
- A power button
- Glass is voice enabled. You can say commands that start with “Ok Glass”. One example would be “Ok Glass, give me directions to the nearest gas station.”
Of course what would any interactive technology be without Swipe and Tap capabilities? Operating Glass seems very natural since we are all comfortable with the concept of swipe and tap. You can use these motions to navigate the various menus and options that are context specific.
Now that we have spent a few minutes looking at the device itself let’s talk a little bit about the potential uses for Glass. For myself this is the most exciting part of the Explorer program, getting to uncover new ways to use Glass in real world situation and for me that means business situations. I asked myself the following question: “How can my customers use this device to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace?”
Photo and Video Use Cases
Out of the box, Glass offers capabilities for spontaneous photo and video capture. Public Safety organizations would benefit from the integrated and easy to use camera and video functionality. The ability to record exactly what one is seeing or snap photos with the wink of an eye are powerful tools for inspectors, first responders, and law enforcement officials. Extend this capability with apps that facilitate real-time Point of View video to effectively see through another person’s eye and the possibilities become even greater.
Augmented Reality Use Cases
This is the area of most potential to me. Glass, with its HUD like capabilities, offers us the ability to overlay information onto anything we look at. This is picture in picture for the modern area, only with some valuable usage scenarios. Through the use of QR Codes or Near Field Communications (NFC) capabilities, consumers would have access to additional product information, purchasing options, and support. Imagine the installation instructions for that new Ikea contraption accessible with the blink of an eye.
Below you see a screenshot of me calling on the Experts Who Get IT to help with support of my new gadget.
Below are some visual examples of comparable art.
Is Glass Ready and is the World Ready for Glass?
Considering Glass is still not available to the general public I do believe there is significant potential for the device in the near future. When it comes to usability and acceptance there are a few things that need to be addressed specific to Glass.
Availability of Apps
As of the publication of this article, there are not a lot of Glassware in the Google app store. Of course considering the penetration of Glass in the market place this is not surprising. I look instead to the types of apps that exist today. As one would expect all the major Social networks have apps. Now your friends can be even more in-your-face than ever before. Whether that’s good or bad is for you to decide. There are a number of Glassware that allow you to be truly hands free while adding value though. Some examples are the recipe apps, location based apps such as Field Trip that provides you with information based on what you are looking at and where you are. Also a number of fitness apps exist today. As Glass makes its way into the hands of more people you can expect the quantity and quality of Glassware to improve. The thing to consider is that virtually all apps that exist on your Smart Phone could be made Glass capable in some fashion or another so the foundation is already laid.
Today Glass works best when coupled with an Android phone. iPhone capabilities are ok but many of the location based services simply are not there. Sorry, no turn by turn in your field of vision for the Apple crowd. Windows phones and other platform capabilities are non-existent. In order to gain wide acceptance Glass will need to play nice regardless of the device platform.
This issue is specific to Glass above all other wearable technology. In general people are just not comfortable with Glass in a public forum. Even while running or cycling it tends to draw odd looks but take Glass into a more social setting and it can draw outright hostility. A number of public venues have banned the devices over privacy concerns. I personally don’t know that I would feel comfortable walking into a restaurant or public place wearing the device. I think this will continue to be an obstacle for Glass for the foreseeable future.
In the end it’s all about the apps and Google will rely on the developer community to create valuable scenarios for consumers and businesses alike.
What do you think? Is Google Glass going to take off? Comment below.