In 2012, we first started to hear about Google Glass. The idea was to bring computers even more into our daily lives, by creating a unit with no barrier of entry where access was as simple as speaking.
Two years later, and Google Glass is finally here and the intrepid crew at Harvey Norman has taken it upon themselves to venture into the new frontier of wearable technology.
Glass consists of a light metal frame – like eyeglasses without the lenses – with a plastic extrusion on the right hand side that houses a the basic building blocks of a smartphone. That includes a processor, speaker and mic, as well as a front mounted camera.
The major unique feature is the display. Mounted on the front of the device, slightly above and to the right of your right eye, it’s an LED display which uses liquid crystal, light and reflection to beam an image into your eye.
Essentially, the Glass is designed to be worn without getting in the way of your vision. Instead, you’ll see a floating notification or message just at the corner of your eye, taking in the information while keeping an eye on the world around you.
It’s an incredible idea, and just one of the brainy things going on inside Google Glass. The unit will also respond to a wide range of voice controls and instantly serve up web searches, map directions, simple mobile games and much more. You’ll also find a HD camera for taking still or video at a moment’s notice.
The Glass syncs with your smartphone to gain access to the internet and otherwise works very like Google Now – the sophisticated personalised information system Google has been working on for the last few years. And it works, responding to voice, taking photos and not causing too much discomfort.
Google Glass is the latest development in the emerging wearable revolution. These items are all about bringing a connected experience to users. So you might find fitness trackers you can take on a run which will sync data to your smartphone. Or on a larger scale, Google’s new operating system Google Wear has been designed to fit into wearables, with three sophisticated smartwatches on the way from the likes of LG and Motorola.
Glass is undoubtedly the most unusual of these devices yet released and it does manage to create a convincing argument for the future of wearable tech. But, as the first of its kind, it also has some serious problems.
The biggest issue we found while using Glass was the battery life. You’ll be lucky to get more than 90 minutes of use between charges, something which makes it difficult to actually use as a constant life tool. The camera too produces disappointing stills (though the 720p video is surprisingly decent) and the plastic parts on the right hand side become alarmingly warm against your face.
Performance is another issue – the Glass does recognise a number of spoken phrases for various actions but picking up the words was very hit and miss, especially in noisy environments.
But it’s fair to consider Glass as something of a prototype. Google never intended it to be available mass market and they’re undoubtedly working on a new version. With a better camera and battery life the possibilities open up dramatically. Not to mention the fact that the Glass currently costs $1500, guaranteeing it’s little more than a collector’s item in its current form.
Google Glass may still be in its infancy but the potential of wearable tech is starting to thrive. Fitness trackers have been on the rise for awhile but the new Google Wear smartwatches are set to take the market by storm. Rumours of an iWatch from Apple still abound and other applications include smartclothing (which could measure your stress level) and the return of virtual reality via Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus.
Google Glass isn’t currently available in Ireland but right now you can get ready for the wearable tech revolution with a number of great products available at Harvey Norman.
In Short: Google has unleashed its Glass across the world and its a revolutionary piece of wearable technology but is it ready for limelight