Well the Google I/O conference is in town and Google Glass is the word on the street.
Whether or not you’ve noticed it , wearable technology is on the rise. Judging by how attached we all are to our phones (this seems particularly true for those owning smartphones) it was only a matter of time before wearable tech became a production focus of many of our favorite tech moguls. In fact many had hoped that the recently re-released iPod nano would be a watch (the last generation square nano will function as one but must be attached to a watch band–sold separately). Instead a rectangular colorful nano was unleashed on the public. And in many ways that’s what those interested in wearable tech have become used to. Rumors promising a new format that in reality doesn’t stack up.
Then came Google Glass which showed us exactly what it could do, and I have to say it does some amazing things. Remember Minority Report’s high-tech glass video screens? Or basically any pair of high-tech glasses in Mission Impossible movies (Tom Cruise has all the fun)? Well that’s actually a decent representation of what these glasses can do. Currently unavailable as prescription lenses (but this is already changing–see update), Glass is somewhat limited in practical (non-tech) use, though Google provides a snap-on sunglass lens. Glass will give directions, reminders, show you tweets from individuals you selected (so you don’t have a constant deluge of tweets), give breaking news, take video and photos in an instant and keep you up to date on email, chat, etc.. This does bring to mind the question – will we need to get another wireless internet contract from our service providers?
Sounds pretty good right? But as with any new technology there are concerns (remember when we thought the super collider would open a black hole?). Though Google has developed Glass to require voice commands to take a video or pictures (a feature that has already been overridden by an app developer- whose app will take a picture when you wink), many bystanders are concerned about their privacy. While I’ll admit that I too am uncomfortable with the idea of someone covertly snapping photos of me, I’m also painfully aware of the fact that, thanks to camera phones, we are already living in a world where this is possible. I’d imagine there are also concerns about drivers wearing Glass. This provokes an interesting split in opinions. Some will say that Glass will allow a driver to focus more since Glass is entirely hands free, others are concerned that Glass and its little stream of news/chats/tweets could provide a distraction in itself. There I’m afraid only time will tell.
I would like to clear up one misconception about Glass I’ve often run into. Glass is not a web browser, the user will largely not need to scroll or click (though this functionality is available through a touchpad on the visor). It is much closer to SIRI in construction in that it responds to voice commands and queries. You’ll tell your Google Glass, “Glass how do I get to _________” and it will give you directions. I recommend taking a look at this demo video to see roughly how they work.
For those out there who, like me, are eager to get your hands on a pair to try, you’ll have to wait. The applications to be a beta tester have been closed and even when they are available to the public the cost is projected to be in the $1,500 range.
**UPDATE: CNET has reported that new prototypes of Google Glass do contain prescription lenses though the sides (the bits over the ears) will not fold.
**To see an amazingly in-depth and candid review, check out The Verge’s experience