Several months ago, I wrote a post about one of the Google initiatives announced at the developers conference, a wearable computer called Google Glass.
At the time, it was theoretical, and for some odd reason, Google didn’t deem it necessary to either invite me to their developer pow wow OR send me a Beta pair.
But this Monday, a pair showed up at my office and I can confirm, despite the previously reported Yeti-like sightings of Google Glass in the wild (of which I had not witnessed) they are very real.
I could blather on about them, ad nauseam, but the quick and dirty is that Google Glass is an interesting piece of technology that takes a bit of getting used to, but which will go over well with dorks.
Now, I’ll blather on ad nauseam.
To be fair, my assessment of them is based on less than 20 minutes of hands-on testing. There was literally a queue of cats in my office waiting to try them out. So I felt like a hog spending more than a few minutes trying to take GG through its paces. But I made the most of my time and will now share my observations with you.
Because you care so much about what I think.
GG is literally a pair of glasses, with plastic lenses and a small translucent square mounted to the top of the frame of the right lens.
Putting them on is a little weird because they’re not symmetrical. The “fat” side contains all the components, which reside in a wide flat casing, while the “skinny” side is a simple curved metal bar, encased in soft plastic, that clings tightly to your head.
Even though it looks imbalanced, remarkably, GG feels right on your face/head/noggin.
When you first put them on, there’s nothing to see because the device is off. So at first glance, it looks just like you’re wearing a tricked out pair of Oakleys.
But once you turn them on, you know, immediately, that these are no bike riding glasses.
To turn Google Glass on, you simply tap the fat right side gently with your finger or tilt your head up 30 degrees.
Yes. I said “or tilt your head up 30 degrees” to turn Google Glass on. Just be careful if you use this method of activation around brothers (Black men, not male siblings), or they might think you’re giving them “the nod” and be offended if you don’t acknowledge them in return.
Turning on Google Glass pulls up the screen, which is projected in space about five feet in front of you. It’s like augmented reality without the helmet or wrap-around visors.
Now, you’ve got to look up slightly to see the screen because the placement of that little square on the frame (which is essentially what generates your projected screen) places it just above your normal line of sight.
You can manipulate your screen and Google Glass’ functions through both voice and touch. You control items on your screen or the menu using your finger along the side or via a set of simple voice commands. I wasn’t able to utilize the voice commands in the brief period I was playing around with it, but the dev who had them said that the voice commands work well (within the range of commands available).
To scroll up or down, back or forth and left or right, you rub your finger along the touchpad on the side of the glasses. Tapping with one finger selects, using two fingers lets you grab and move objects.
There is a small speaker on the section behind your ear, which projects sound, and it’s clear but low. And there’s also a small forward facing camera that shoots pictures and video.
During my little test run, I accessed Google Maps, watched a video, scrolled through a bunch of web pages and (unsuccessfully) tried to use Google Glass’ voice commands.
And outside of looking (and feeling) like a fucking dork – tilting my head up and down, tapping the side of my head, mumbling in audible commands and staring off into space – they’re not that bad.
I was initially prepared to write them off as a novelty, but I just had a 15 minute chat with the dev dude who got them and he actually had a lot of praise for it. I was skeptical until he told me he was is not an Android dude at all, so his opinion was patently objective.
He’d been rocking Google Glass for a week, and as a result, had a slightly more informed perspective than my 15 minute run. But just slightly.
We discussed my assessment and critique of how Google Glass makes you like a dork because you’re always looking up. Beyond that, your virtual screen is projected against the world behind it. So if you’re using Google Glass and you’ve got a funky background (bright lights, lots of traffic, etc.) it takes a minute for your eyes to adjust to all the BS/noise and focus on the screen.
When I gave him my assessment, lampooning its shortcomings, his response was that the field of view is intentionally placed above your line of sight so that you’re not looking at the screen on top of your natural field of view. The point of its placement was to avoid creating a distraction for the user or having to compete with visual background noise.
I had to concede that his argument made sense. And then I kicked him in the shins and cracked on his momma.
But that’s not to say that Google Glass gets flying colors. Google’s got work to do to get Google Glass ready for the major leagues.
A friend of mine suggested that Google Glass would be great for watching porn in mixed company, and while I initially thought that they were onto something, having rocked and witnessed others wearing them, I realized that Google Glass does have some limitations.
For one, there’s the issue of the voice prompts. Dev dude was able to execute several commands fairly easily when it was one-on-one, and when traffic and ambient noise was low. When many of us were milling about, buzzing and cackling, his attempts at controlling Google Glass through voice commands were an absolute fail. And my name “Stephen Chukumba” spoken into Google search, returned “Stephen Takuma” – although it could have been the dev dude’s Korean accent skewing the results.
Next, if you’re looking directly at someone wearing them, you can see the images projected on the small translucent square in front of the lens. Sure, the image is about a quarter of an inch big, but it’s a crystal clear quarter of an inch image, which is clearly not conducive lascivious content viewing.
And finally, even though the volume on the speakers are low, it’s still slightly audible if you’re within a few feet of the wearer. So the grunts and groans of true porn thespians is perceptible but those around you.
Anyway, as I digress into porn, I realize this post has gone on long enough.
My point is that Google glasses is still a work in progress.
Google Glass is here.
You’ll look like a dork if you rock them.
But if do happen to get a pair, you’ll be a happy dork.