Google Glass is here!
Since its arrival last week, our pair of Google Glass has been the object of everyone’s desire here at Spiria. Locked up in my office away from 80 famished geeks, I’m writing a review on what may very well become the future must-have gadget. Here are my thoughts on the famous Google Glass.
The Troll’s comments:
« Hooooo, this sucks, the screen is not directly in front of my eyes.»
«With my glasses, I can’t see the screen properly.»
First observation: Google Glass is not for everyone. No problem for users with a good vision as they can easily enjoy the 640x360 screen. On the other hand, users who wear glasses will face ergonomic issues with Google Glass. This may seem like a small issue, but let’s remember that the Segway failed mostly because it couldn’t climb stairs – this too seemed like a small issue, but it made all concrete applications that much more difficult.
On the flip side, the design is so light that once on, you have the feeling of wearing nothing at all. Even after prolonged use, the 50-gram gadget will not leave so much as a crease on your nose. The vision field is practically undisturbed when wearing the device.
Google Glass is not meant to create an augmented reality, but rather to display contextual information. I can’t even count the number of people who have come up with this idea. It is not possible to look at the screen and the real world at the same time.
Google Glass and Social Interactions, or the “Glasshole” Issue.
After a few trials, the perception of Google Glass users by the public remains problematic, and the definition of what constitutes acceptable behavior is still a little hazy. The term “Glasshole” was invented to define those who, let’s say, overly use their cherished Glass. Instructions to avoid becoming a Glasshole:
What about the design
Features are important but since this remains a wearable device, the design is quite significant. As opposed to a smart phone, Google Glass is sitting on your nose for everyone to see, instead of discretely tucked away in your pocket. Google Glass’ design seems quite well done.
Integration with Apple products: what to answer Apple fans?
Will Google Glass be compatible with Apple systems? The answer is: yes. However, the device is not independent. It needs the MyGlass mobile app, which is available at no cost. This app allows you to install various apps on your Google Glass, add contacts and locate your Google Glass, just to name a few.
Possible apps: identifying individuals and the Nametag application
One of the (potentially abusive?) uses that came to mind was brought up by sales. Google Glass could possibly be used to identify individuals we’re chatting with, let’s say, during a tradeshow. This could therefore replace or complete the traditional business card system.
Many Google Glass apps would require filming individuals. This action still seems a little blurry in the legal sense. However, there is an app called NameTAG that is used to identify people: http://www.nametag.ws/
Since the legality of these types of apps is still being debated, NameTAG was removed from the Glassware Store to avoid any judicial issues. It is however possible to install the app via ADB without having to use the MyGlass app and the Glassware Store.
After testing the application, I can say that it is neither performing nor truly usable for the time being; we’re more or less dealing with a beta test rather than a real app.
To quote a colleague of mine who often stated “I can do that with my phone”, Google Glass does not offer many new revolutionary sensors, and even fewer new features.
However, as an intensive mobile Google Map user, I can tell you that using Google Glass to find my way to a given destination is a real added value. If you’re doubtful, try using Google Map on a bike, holding your phone with one hand and the handlebar with the other, trying to avoid oncoming cars (I’m joking, do not actually try this). Google Glass has a very precise compass. The map application is well built and perfectly adapts to the device’s screen.
Just like with a GPS / hands-free kite in a car, the safe use of this type of peripheral device is still being debated.
Here are two examples of the interface:
Overall, Google Glass is a very interesting product. Its use is still debatable and will depend on the unique uses that can be developed. The success of this product does not rely on notoriety since anybody who’s anybody has heard about Google Glass. The problem concerns more the applications. We already see some very concrete possible apps, such as facial recognition and geo-positioning. That being said, our verdict is neither black nor white. Google Glass is a very interesting product from a technical standpoint, but it is missing concrete apps.
- Well thought-out user interface via thumbnails
- Google Map integration
- Issues for users who wear glasses
- Heats up when viewing/recording a video
- Low photo resolution (5MP)
- Few concrete apps
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