Google Glass is about as fancy as it gets in technology at the moment. Launched last year and now in the hands of a few thousand plucky “Explorers”, Glass is potentially one of the most disruptive pieces of technology to emerge in recent years. It’s also a constant talking point in legal circles, both here and in the US.
Ahead of its arrival in the UK, we’ve aggregated all of our Glass coverage into one place. Below you’ll find pretty much everything you need to know about Glass, from specs to the latest news and updates, as well as lots of other things – things like competitor devices, new Glass applications, and news about how much it will cost when it finally arrives on our shores much later on this year.
What Is Google Glass?
The display has a 640×360 pixel resolution, which might sound a bit low at first, but bear in mind the panel is actually just a tiny piece near your right eye. Google claims it provides the equivalent picture to that of a 25-inch HD display when viewed from eight feet away. That sounds pretty good to us.
The built-in camera is a 5-megapixel unit with 720p video capture, while audio is handled via a bone conduction transducer. In other words, rather than having actual headphones it sends the audio vibrations directly through the small bones in your ear, which you then hear as sound.
Onboard storage is 16GB, although 12GB of this is usable as 4GB is presumably taken up by the software. The device is fully synced with Google’s cloud storage.
Google claims the Glass frame will fit ‘any face’ and it comes with three sets of adjustable nose pads to help you get a comfortable experience. The company hasn’t given precise figures for the onboard battery but states the spectacles will last you ‘one full day of typical use’.
Of course, whether that day of ‘typical use’ is as typical as normal smartphone use, or something particular to this snazzy new technology is anybody’s guess. Google does add that video capture and the use of Google Hangouts would have an impact on battery life.
Google is apparently launching an app called ‘MyGlass’ which can be installed on Android phones running Android 4.0.3 and above. The app is said to enable GPS navigation and SMS text messaging capabilities.
Google Glass & Prescription Spectacles
After announcing that Google Glass Expolorers can upgrade to the new version of hardware for free, we’ve been treated to an image of the kit fitted to a pair of prescription glasses, which has leaked online. Below is a selection of publicity shots of the new glasses-friendly Glass hardware:
The company doesn’t go into a lot of detail about specs, it released a statement saying:
“We want to say “thank you” for all the amazing feedback we’ve been getting, so later this year, all Explorers will have a one-time option to swap out their existing Glass for a new one. This hardware update will allow your Glass to work with future lines of shades and prescription frames, and we’ll also include a mono earbud. You can find more details about this here:https://support.google.com/glass/answer/3501111.”
It’s an important step, because since Google Glass went into public testing there have always been complaints from those who wear prescription glasses who’ve been left with a choice – get contact lenses or don’t join the party.
Google’s one-time swap program is open to anyone who has bought Google Glass before October 28 who signs up for the switchover.
Google Glass Titanium Collection announced
Google has announced its new Titanium Collection of Google Glass prescription devices.
The Titanium Collection is aptly named, as the new specs feature titanium frames for extra durability while maintaining a light weight. You also have a choice of four new frame styles including “Curve”, “Thin”, “Split” and “Bold”, as well as two styles of sunglasses. The frames are intended to be stylish, sleek and simplified and to help hide the fact that these are smartglasses (to an extent).
Existing Glass Explorers can upgrade to a new Titanium Collection model for $225, otherwise the specs are going to be available through the usual channels (in the US of course) including optical health provider VSP.
Google Teams Up with Ray-Ban & Oakley
Luxottica, parent company of both Ray-Ban and Oakley brands, has announced its entry into a partnership with Google to produce smart eyewear products.
The company’s announcement does not explicitly state Luxottica will produce Google Glass variants and says the designs and details will “be disclosed at a later stage,” but did add that the produts will “straddle the line between high-fashion, lifestyle and innovative technology.”
Andrea Guerra, CEO of Luxottica, said, “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Google and are proud to be once again setting the pace in the eyewear industry.”
The company says it plans to leverage Luxottica’s expansive retail presence as an avenue for distribution and it’s assumed the Ray-Ban and Oakley brands will create more stylish, consumer-facing variants of Google Glass.
Whether the same capabilities can be achieved in a more streamlined design remains to be seen, however. Hopefully we won’t see too many features shaved off.
What Google Glass Can Do
In The Home
Researchers at UC Berkeley’s CITRIS lab have created a mod which allows home appliances to be controlled using Google Glass hardware.
Brainiacs have added an IR emitter to the Google Glass unit that – when paired with an Xbee 802.15.4 WiFi radio and a microcontroller – allows the user to control devices with an IR transmitter attached. This way a user can look at a device, connect to it, and control it using Glass.
The mod has applications for lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and Smart TV’s. The researchers also created controls for when there are a bunch of devices within range. There’s a concept video below which shows the device in action. As you can see the emitter isn’t the most stylish addition to the Glass hardware, but it’s still in the early stages.
But it is a good indicator of what will be possible with Google Glass in the future. Also, for Glass to work with appliances, they will need to be fitted with an IR transmitter. Check out a video of the tech in action below:
Imaging & Photography
Google Glass explorers will soon be receiving a software update which allows them to take a photo by just winking. The update, officially known as XE12, is apparently just an “exploratory feature” for the time being – Google wants feedback from its explorers.
MyGlass for iOS is also featured in the update, bringing Glass management to iPhone and iPad, as well as turn-by-turn directions. Nice.
XE12 also includes a Touch Menu for Google Play Music as well as screen locking, which kicks in whenever an explorer takes the headset off. Google’s bumper update also supplies the ability to share videos to YouTube and new Google Search cards.
Last but by no means least is the arrival of the Hangouts application for Glass. This allows Explorers to share photos, make video calls and chat using Google’s IM app. All in, it’s a pretty sizable update and it’ll be interesting to see what Explorers make of the new wink imaging capabilities.
Google Glass To Get Android 4.4 KitKat
With a load of different devices beginning to get the update to Android 4.4 KitKat, Google is now preparing the Glass headset for the same software bump. The news comes from a report by Glass Almanac which claims the headset will receive its first major update in a year since its “launch”. The headset launched for beta testing in certain areas last February and included Android 4.0 onboard.
Since then there have been gentle monthly updates for the headset but nothing as big as the introduction of Android 4.4 KitKat.
A Glass Guide, Teresas Zazenski, wrote in a private Explorers forum last week that the update may be coming. She said, “In fact we’re working to move Glass from Ice Cream Sandwich to Kit Kat to make the Glass experience smoother and just plain better. This change will make it easier for us to bring you more useful updates and it’s something we’re really excited about.”
The entire private thread seems pretty sure the update is coming in the near future but there’s only one way to confirm the news, speaking to the internet giant itself. Know Your Mobile has reached out to Google for comment on the idea of updating the headset to Android 4.4 KitKat but Google refused to comment on the topic.
Another Glass community member, Sarah Price, also stated later on in the forum post that “bigger updates take more time and may no longer come monthly anymore.”
When we hear any more details we will be sure to keep you posted.
Google Glass Apps & Use In Real World Situations
Google Play Music
Here’s a question to which the answer will soon be no: is there anything you can’t do with Google Glass?
That’s according to ReadWriteWeb who point out that the Google Play Music app is coming to Glass – making it “the most futuristic Walkman ever.”
The publication put it to the test and found that, as with the other features of Glass, it puts voice commands first. But with the music app, instead of saying “OK Glass” the wearer should say “listen to.” Google then starts looking through Google Play Music to find whatever band or artist it is the wearer is trying to listen to.
According to RWW’s Taylor Hatmaker, Glass recognised her request to listen to ‘Tegan and Sara’ within seconds – and allowed her to pause, skip or play tracks back with just a tap.
So far, so good – even if you’re not a Tegan and Sara fan. But there’s just one problem: battery.
“I started playing music over Glass with 40% battery life. Ten minutes later, I was down to 27%. After 20 minutes, about five songs in, I was in the red at 15% remaining battery. Weak.”
There have been a number of situations where Google Glass has become a problem when driving. One explorer was even cautioned for using the device whilst behind the wheel, but there’s no legal precedent set just yet.
A cornerstone of the debate is that you don’t use your hands when using Google Glass like you do a smartphone.
But what if an app for Google Glass could save your life whilst driving? There’s a new app called DriveSafe which uses the headset’s sensors to measure if you’re paying attention to the road. This also means when you start to nod off at the wheel the app will tell you.
Law Enforcement: NYC Cops Testing Google Glass
Google Glass is apparently being trialed by cops in New York City. According to a report by Venture Beat, the New York Police Department is looking into Glass in order to see whether or not it would be a benefit to law enforcement officers working in the city.
VB spoke with a spokesperson for the NYC Police Department: “We signed up, got a few pairs of the Google glasses, and we’re trying them out, seeing if they have any value in investigations, mostly for patrol purposes”
Google has denied it is working with the police department and says the law enforcement agency likely acquired smart glasses via the Google Glass Explorer Edition program. If that is the case it means the department will have parted with $1500 per pair.
Trails of head-mounted cameras on cops have been proven to improve officer’s behavior in the past, so the inclusion of Google Glass into law enforcement could be viewed as a good thing. That’s one side of the argument. Critics like Mayor Mike Bloomberg argue the data Glass collects would create an enforcement nightmare.
Virgin Atlantic Confirms Google Glass Scheme
Virgin Atlantic has confirmed it is doing a six-week pilot test of Google Glass and other wearable technology in order to access how the new gadgets could improve customer service.
Staff will use the Glass to update passengers on their latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination and translate any foreign language information.
Dave Bulman Director of IT, Virgin Atlantic, said: “While it’s fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers.
“By being the first in the industry to test how Google Glass and other wearable technology can improve customer experience, we are upholding Virgin Atlantic’s long tradition of shaking things up and putting innovation at the heart of the flying experience.”
Google Glass Is Even In Hospitals!
A hospital in Boston has begun using Google Glass alongside QR codes to help them keep track of patients. Instead of the traditional clipboard at the end of the bed, doctors can now use the headset to scan a patients QR code outside their room and know everything they need to all through the display.
Dr John Halamka, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center wrote on his blog describing the process. This is what he said,
“When a clinician walks into an emergency department room, he or she looks at [a] bar code (a QR or Quick Response code) placed on the wall. Google Glass immediately recognizes the room and then the ED Dashboard sends information about the patient in that room to the glasses, appearing in the clinician’s field of vision. The clinician can speak with the patient, examine the patient, and perform procedures while seeing problems, vital signs, lab results and other data.”
The hospital has been using the system for the past three months and it’s soon to make it available to all of the doctors there. Google Glass headsets don’t come cheap though, it really shows the difference between the States and the UK’s health care systems that the US can afford to buy the headsets.
Google Glass Development Kit (GDK) Detailed
Wearable tech is now a thing. Whether it’s smartwatches, Oculus Rift or some other form of headgear the idea of wearing your tech on your body is now officially in the public domain and looks to be one of the biggest tech trends of the coming year. Google Glass, however, is something else entirely…
And this week the search-giant has given the world a glimpse inside its Glass Development Kit (GDK) – the thing developers use to create content and apps for Google’s head-mounted computer thingumajig. During a briefing on Tuesday, Glass Developer Advocate Timothy Jordan gave a presentation highlighting three things that can only be accomplished on GDK.
“Unlike Google Mirror API, the interface that Glass developers have been using up to now, the GDK will allow for offline Glassware functionality, real-time user response and ‘deeper access to hardware, such as the accelerometer and the GPS.’ Jordan went on to demonstrate each of these additions via specific apps that take advantage of the GDK’s abilities,” reports BGR.
Check out Jordan’s presentation in the video below:
Google Glass Gaming Galore
Glass has so much potential for gaming on the move and Google is hoping to inspire developers with what they can achieve with a new demonstration. The company has released an advert showing the different gaming experiences Glass can supply. Google hopes it shows the possibilities of gaming whilst wearing the device.
Time to watch what is possible:
Done? How awesome does that look!? It’s probably not the kind of thing you’d play whilst walking down the street sure, but we’d feel comfortable in our own homes. Out in the real world there are cars and other obstacles to concentrate on more than a clay pigeon simulator.
So what games has Google created already? There’s a Tennis game in which the player uses their head to play a 3D game of the sport. Balance uses the headset to measure how much the user is moving their head, much like finishing school.
There’s Matcher, the odd memory matching game you saw in the advert. Then there’s Shape Splitter which is essentially Fruit Ninja combined with your own hands. And then there’s the real one you wouldn’t want to be playing in public, Clay Shooter. The game makes you shout “pull!” before then shouting “bang!” to shoot down the clay.
Google said, “Each game is visually simple and straightforward to play. We intentionally wanted games that are quick to get into when you have a few, free minutes and just as easy to get out of when you want to turn your attention back to reality.”
Google Glass brings some real interesting gaming potential, but maybe not on the commute.
How Not To Be A Glasshole
Google has released its definitive guide on how not to creep out people on the street when using Google Glass. The firm doesn’t want to see explorers scaring people with the new wearable technology so has issued advice on how is best to interact with the device in public.
For example, Google said, “Standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass is not going to win you any friends. The Glass camera function is no different from a cell phone so behave as you would with your phone and ask permission before taking photos or videos of others.”
So what are the rules of using Google Glass in public?
Do: explore the world around you, take advantage of the voice commands, ask for permission before filming, use the screen lock and be an active member of the Glass Explorer community.
More importantly there are some rules on how you shouldn’t act whilst using Google Glass.
Don’t: Wear whilst doing sports, expect to be ignored whilst using it and don’t be creepy. The company also warns not to “Glass Out” and fully retract into your headset world, it wants you to carry on living your life without using Glass as much as you use it.
Of course the company wants to sell more handsets so creepy users filming others on the street or talking to themselves isn’t going to look good for Google. It’s nice Google is giving advice and thinking about user health though, especially talking about how it doesn’t want users to use the headset every moment of the day.
Google: Not Everyone Is A Glass Hole
Google is quite clearly having a problem with people thinking Glass wearers are “Glass-holes”. To try and combat that way of thinking, Google has revealed its own Top 10 Google Glass Myths. It posted them on its Google+ page which you can see the full…very long…list here.
We are just going to sum them up here for you though with the actual titles of each myth. If you agree or disagree be sure to let us know in the comments.
Myth 1 – Glass is the ultimate distraction from the real world
Myth 2: Glass is always on and recording everything
Myth 3 – Glass Explorers are technology-worshipping geeks
Myth 4 – Glass is ready for prime time
Myth 5: Glass does facial recognition (and other dodgy things)
Myth 6: Glass covers your eye(s)
Myth 7 – Glass is the perfect surveillance device
Myth 8 – Glass is only for those privileged enough to afford it
Myth 9 – Glass is banned… EVERYWHERE
Myth 10 – Glass marks the end of privacy
The Competition: Google Glass Brothers From Different Mothers
Google Glass’s first real competition comes from Venice based company GlassUp. Recently the company showed off its first ever prototype, which had one key difference from the Glass we’re used to – GlassUp projects an image in front of the eye not to the right of your vision, as with Google Glass. That means you have all you want to see right in front of you, says the company’s CEO Franceso Giartosio.
He told The Verge, “When we heard about Glass in spring 2012, we thought we had to close down and go home. But we kept on because there were some big differences in our vision. We use the front lens so we aren’t asking the user to look to the side — they’re looking forward.”
He believes his version of Glass is “like a tool” whereas Google’s is “like a game”. But for Ellis Hamburger of the Verge, the device still needs work. “I like the idea of only delivering high priority text notifications to a screen in front of, instead of to the side of your face, but GlassUp seems to have a long way to go before accomplishing its goal”, he explained.
We may get to see for ourselves soon: GlassUp hope the device will come to market this summer for $399.
LaForge Optical’s “Smartspecks”
Features in the technology include heads-up directions, the ability to take pictures, record video, display your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds and more. It’ll work through an app in your phone which allows it to connect to the cloud.
The product is by an unfunded five-person startup called LaForge Optical. CEO of LaForge Optical, Corey Mack told VentureBeat: “Anyone who wants Google Glass … in a more conventional form factor can have it. Additionally our lens technology allows for people who need prescription lenses (about 65 percent of the population) to be able to use our glasses.”
One big selling point is a fully immersive display unlike Google’s product which only has a screen in the top right of the lens. The look of the glasses will also likely prove to win people over as they look like a normal pair of spectacles.
No official comment from Samsung yet if it will be working on a headset wearable but it’s inevitably in the works. But a Samsung patent has suggested smartglasses are on the cards. SamMobile got their mitts on a patent for an augmented reaility interface which uses your hands to interact with a headsets camera.
The way it seems to work is it projects a keyboard onto your hands in front of you. Each part of your finger and some of your palm corresponds to a letter and you use your thumbs to press the keys.
The patent even covers a one-handed mode which will come in useful when you’re lugging shopping back home.
SamMobile reports, “The patent was filed last year at the World Intellectual Property Organization and South Korea’s Korean Intellectual Property Office.”
Other reports claim Samsung looked into using Google-style voice input but that seems to be ditched for this more interesting system due to concerns with accuracy. When could we see the debut of a Samsung based headset? It could even be as early as the end of 2014, it’s unlikely but it could even come alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
Could this be some serious competition for Google Glass?
The People Vs. Google Glass: Law Suits, Prosecutions & Legislation
Not Coming To A Cinema Near You….
The US cinema chain AMC has called the Google Glass eyewear “not appropriate” for use in film screenings following an incident when homeland security officers interrogated a Glass wearer. The user took to The Gadgeteer blog to explain what happened during a screening of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
Half way through the film showing in Columbnus, Ohio, the man was taken out and questioned by homeland security’s ICE unit (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). The man said, “a guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of a shield on it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says ‘follow me outside immediately’”.
The man claims he had the Google Glass off as he didn’t want it to distract him during the movie but he was wearing them for the prescription lenses.
The man continued, “After a long time somebody came with a laptop and an USB cable at which point he told me it was my last chance to come clean. I repeated for the hundredth time there is nothing to come clean about and this is a big misunderstanding so the [ICE officer] finally connected my Glass to the computer, downloaded all my personal photos and started going though them one by one … Then they went through my phone, and five minutes later they concluded I had done nothing wrong.”
Homeland security has confirmed the incident did take place. Khaalid Walls, a spokesperson for ICE, said, “Local authorities briefly interviewed a man suspected of using an electronic recording device to record a film at an AMC theater in Columbus. The man, who voluntarily answered questions, confirmed to authorities that the suspected recording device was also a pair of prescription eye glasses in which the recording function had been inactive. No further action was taken.”
Google Glass is still having teething issues in day-to-day life. It’s still unsure what the precedent is for driving with the headset on and it’ll take more cases such as this to work out the kinks.
US Court Throws Out Case Against Californian Google Glass-Wearer
Cecilia Abadie, the Californian woman reported as the first person to be fined for driving while wearing Google Glass, has had the case dismissed by a US court comissioner.
Court Commissioner John Blair threw the case out saying that there was no proof the Google Glass device was in use at the time Abadie was driving, when she was pulled over by a highway patrol officer in October 2013.
A scan of the ticket was circulated when the story originally broke, showing the officer classified the device as a “monitor”, in violation of California state law.
“There is no testimony it was operating or in use while Ms. Abadie was driving,” said Blair. Lucky for Abadie, the speeding ticket (which was the original reason she was pulled over) was also dismissed “because an expert did not appear to testify to the calibration on the officer’s speedometer,” reports Reuters. On this basis, Blair said there was also no proof of Abadie’s driving speed at the time.
The officer who pulled Abadie over, Keith Odle, claimed he caught her dirving her Toyota Prius at 85mph in a 65mph zone, according to the report.
“Odle said he had not been planning to cite Abadie for wearing Google Glass, but that he did so because of her reaction to his questions,” Reuters writes.
“She got a little argumentative about whether or not it was legal for her to wear them,” said Odle.
Speaking to reporters outside court, Abadie said Google Glass did not create a blind spot for her while driving.
Google Glass Could Be Legal On UK Roads…
UK drivers might be able to wear Google Glass headsets whilst driving, a new report has revealed. The head-based technology, which is still not widely available – even in the US –, has already been the star of a series of driving-related arrests in the US.
According to The Sunday Times, however, Google is now in talks with the Department for Transport to make the device road legal.
The DfT said: “We have met with Google to discuss the implications of the current law for Google Glass. Google are anxious their products do not pose a road safety risk and are currently considering options to allow the technology to be used in accordance with the law.”
The navigation benefits of using Google Glass could be great but the nature of the device could endanger road users. Google Glass needs the user to take their eyes off the road and look to the top right which would distract them from the road.
What’s safer would be technology which embeds the navigation right into your windscreen such as HeadsUP. Although it can obscure the view, it’s a transparent display meaning you can see through it whilst driving and you’d never need to take your eyes off the road.
Or Not: The Case Against Google Glass Being Road Legal In UK
A statement has been released by the UK Government which may stop consumers using Google Glass while driving.
The law will go along the same lines as anyone caught using their phone while driving – an automatic fine and the possibility of appearing in court.
According to CNET, the UK’s Department of Transport has issued a pre-emptive blow by saying, ‘It is important that drivers give their full attention to the road when they are behind the wheel and do not behave in a way that stops them from observing what is happening on the road…We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving.’
The issue has already been raised in the States, with West Virginia’s Republican politician attempting to pass a law to ban the technology in his state, an issue which didn’t get very far and was placed on the backburner for debate at a later date. The UK Government isn’t messing around, however, and appears keen to pass official laws on the device before it launches.
Google claims that it has received initial feedback suggesting that the tech may actually make driving safer as it allows drivers to use a heads-up display, rather than reaching for a smartphone and glancing away from the road, but the UK authorities don’t seem convinced.
The interesting twist to the story, though, is that Google is aiming to make its Google Glasses available not just through its own (slightly odd-looking) frames, but eventually through any pair of prescription glasses and maybe even contact lenses, which could make detection of the gadget a lot more difficult.
One can only hope that Google will have given its Glasses an ‘off’ switch for these occasions.
And then there’s The Simpsons
Nothing is ever sacred on The Simpsons, it is unafraid to parody anything and now the longest running comedy show of all time has taken on Google Glass. In a recent episode, everyone’s favourite Lenny Leonard shouts, “Finally, I’m not a slave to my stupid human eyeballs!” after putting on a pair of Oogle Goggles.
By explaining the story here we are in danger of making it sound incredibly unfunny, but here it goes. All the workers at Springfield Power Planet are receiving their Christmas gifts from Mr Burns which usually amount to a stress ball or Hound-A-Day Calendar. Instead this year the employees are treated to a pair of Glass-esque “Oogle Goggles.”
The headsets are designed to do two things, one let the wearer see information about everyone around them, and two to let Mr Burns spy on his employee’s day to day life. It’s not just a single scene; the episode continues to poke fun at augmented reality headwear throughout the episode.
The Simpsons has never been shy to take on technology with digs at iPhones, Facebook, the web and of course Steve Mob’s underwater fortress.
If you’re not receiving enough of the yellow family in your life, we recommend you download The Simpsons: Tapped Out, possibly the most addictive game on the market. Not sold? Well you get to build your own Springfield!