Google Glass: Computer in your Eye

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor At Large | @ChiefKMasimba | March 13, 2014

My first encounter with Google Glass came on a Thursday in March when I responded to a call for a demonstration of the wearable device at the University of Maryland’s McKeldin Library. Yitzy Paul, the tech sherpa, wore the glass beaming and explaining everything that he was doing on a large television screen.

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“I think it’s pretty great. It’s a really interesting device. It puts the computer at your face which is something that you don’t usually have. It helps with ease of use. When I’m in a meeting it’s really inappropriate to look down at your phone when you get an email et cetera but its perfectly fine when its in your line of sight,” he said.

“When I’m in a meeting and I get an email I can see it or just discard it and no one knows that’s what I’ve done. I also think it’s going to be pretty good for the augmented reality stuff.”

I tried on the lightweight titanium frames with child-like fascination keen to experience a piece of the emerging world of wearable computing. With the frames fitted snugly over my nose I stared into a small screen with my right eye which I later discovered is known as the Optical Head Mounted Display. With a slight tap on the side of the frames, the screen flickered – a screen appeared in front of my eye.

With a slide and a tap on the side on the frames where the touch pad is located, I could change what was appearing on the screen. The coolest part came when I took a picture. All I had to do was to give a voice command.

“Ok, Google Glass,” I said, “Take a picture.”

At that command, the Google Glass blinked and took a picture of what was in front of me. Totally cool. Apparently, you can also record video using a voice command. There is also a maps feature which can show you directions of where you want to go.

“It can overlay things right into your sight so it’s going to revolutionize the way we do directions because instead of looking down at our phones to see where we at, it will just display exactly where you need to go. It will just give you a nice little path and you just have to follow that path,” said Paul.

Ubiquity Key to Google Glass’s Future

In spite of my excitement, it was clear to me that Google Glass is still in its infancy, and a lot of work still needs to be done to make the device highly intuitive. Take for example, I’m kind of shortsighted so it was difficult for me at first to make out the text projected on the mounted display. Paul said a lot more players have to come to the party in order to make Google Glass ubiquitous.

“As for whether Google Glass will take over the world or not really depends not only Google but Apple, Samsung, Motorola – other people have to start making it as well. In order to be socially acceptable, it needs to be ubiquitous and in order for something to be ubiquitous there needs to be more than one person making it,” said Paul predicting that more players are going to get involved in making wearable devices.

At the moment, its Google leading the pack but as more connected glasses hit the market there will be competition to respond to user needs which will result in greater innovation.

I certainly hope that the near future will bring connected glasses that are not only cheaper – Google Glass current cost a whooping US $1,500 – but meet user needs. Whatever the case, the best fun on that fun was watching the responses that Google Glass elicited in other people that came to the demonstration.

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