Google Glass

Google gives you the internet in the blink of an eye
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01.First look: Google Glass


Google has a new toy called Glass - an internet-connected headset that displays directions, news, and search results on a small screen in front of the right eye.

Choice got a sneak peek at Glass when we were invited to Google HQ in Sydney recently. We had a one-on-one session with a Google rep to try Glass for ourselves and ask some questions about this much-anticipated piece of wearable technology.

Glass is small and lightweight - it doesn’t actually use any glass, although it’s built on a glasses frame with a small plastic prism over the right eye.

Using voice commands, Glass can take photos, record video and search for directions using Google search. “OK Glass, take photo” will turn on the camera; “OK Glass, get directions to the Opera House” will activate Google Maps.

Glass can also be activated by tilting the head to turn on. It also has a touchpad on the right-hand side of the headset for scrolling through the menu. Glass can connect to a mobile phone using Bluetooth, and can also connect to the internet over Wi-Fi for uploading photos and videos. Using Glass will require a Google account, and videos and photos will be stored in that account.

Glass has a bone conducting sound panel - it can be heard only by the user, and doesn’t require speakers. This is a sensible design choice that should limit sound spillage, which is particularly important if it's to gain widespread use in social settings. 

The trend for wearable technology hasn’t really developed beyond clip-on MP3 players, so only time will tell if people adopt Glass en masse. If Apple comes out with an iWatch, this may pique people’s interest. However, talking into a headset, or looking at people while scanning the internet with one eye, might prove to be too anti-social for many people - at least until there’s a new wearable technology etiquette.  

ONLINE_Lead_FL_GoogleGlassSome disability advocates are eager to see what Glass can offer to people who want to stay connected but don’t have the mobility to use a tablet or phone. There are also exciting possibilities for Glass in settings where people need hands-free communication and connectivity. Sportspeople could use it to record video from their own perspective.

However, this ability to record what’s going on around you has drawn the attention of some privacy commissioners around the world (including Australia) who raised concerns about what information Google will collect, how it will use that information, and what it’s doing to protect privacy.

Google has responded, saying it won’t be using facial recognition and users will be able to manage their own Glass settings; the company didn’t outline what it will do with the user information. 

Safety concerns have also been raised about Glass, particularly in relation to driving - there are already restrictions planned that aim to limit use behind the wheel. 

Glass shows that once again Google is positioning itself ahead of the curve when it comes to internet innovation. It remains to be seen, however, if Glass is literally too in-your-face to gain widespread popularity. It may find a home in niche applications and bringing much-needed connectivity for people with disabilities.

Glass is expected to be released for sale in the US at a later date, but there is no Australian launch date as yet. The Glass site has videos to get a sense of life behind Glass.



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