Can’t get enough of the Internet? Why not wear it? This is the capability of Google Glass in theory, but can it really meet your expectations in an augmented reality wearable computer? Will it make you feel like Iron Man? Will it block your vision with Google ads appearing before your eyes?
Glass could change the world and many are already scrambling to get their hands on one, but the device is going to face tough challenges along the way. Imagine a piece of eyewear that lets you take pictures and videos of everything in sight at the push of a button or a voice command without people around knowing it. The possibilities for espionage and violating privacy are endless!
Privacy complaints aren’t cropping up now because only a few have the Google Glass. Once the device is released publicly, people will surely grumble about using Glass in inappropriate places, like bathrooms and movie theaters.
Features – Is Google Glass Worth the $1500 Price Tag?
Yes, the product is 100% real. The Google Glass Explorer, which costs $1500, is the model currently available to testers and developer in the U.S. It’s a common marketing tactic to release a first generation electronic device that badly needs improvement but companies package it in a way that makes it look like the most innovative gadget of the century. That being said, we’re still left wondering if the first publicly available model is worth the hefty price tag.
So what can you get with Google taking up some of your mid-peripheral vision?
Like any pair of glasses, the device needs getting used to before you can be comfortable. Using it properly depends on the nose pads, which can align the titanium band a little bit above the eye line like a visor. This position allows the prism glass screen to sit just above the eye, leaving your vision unobstructed. Users are required to slightly look up to use the device.
Google Glass isn’t built with lenses; it’s just a frame, although the package comes with tinted and clear lenses for eye protection. When not in use, it will turn dim like a mobile phone on standby. Even when in use, you can still see the world around you since everything is projected into the small glass piece, not your entire field of vision.
Google designed the focal length to be a bit farther from your eye so that eye strain is reduced, but you can’t adjust this focal length. Anyone with eyesight challenges should try the wearable computer first before buying. Users are advised to wear the eye piece just one hour daily for the first week due to eye strain.
A camera is built into the frame to take both pictures and videos. There are two ways to activate it – by nodding up or by touching the side. To take a photo or record a video, touch the side or say “OK Glass, take a picture.” There are talks of an app that can snap pictures by winking, but this defies Google’s plan to make Glass activity obvious to people around.
Another problem is that there’s no way of previewing the pictures you take, so photos are shot blindly. You have to point with your nose because the camera shoots at a downward angle. Also, the camera lacks basic functionality – people with smartphones are used to the ever-improving quality of today’s cameras.
When asking for directions, the navigation feature provides a map of where you’re going. The feature is designed for walking, bicycling and driving, so no support for public transportation yet.
While the device comes with its own hard drive and processor, it works best when paired with your smartphone. However, that means paying your carrier an extra amount ($40) to send and receive text messages and make phone calls, making the Google Glass more expensive than its stupendous $1500 tag.
The only way to send a text message or email is by using voice recognition, but that could turn out bad due to misinterpreted speech. To read an email or SMS, just look up. Or use the text-to-voice feature, which by the way sounds robotic.
Glass also suffers from the same stigma as that of Bluetooth – it can look a little goofy and distracting.
In terms of searching, you can only do simple searches, like the weather. The gadget will then read back the results. You can’t do full searches because it can’t load webpages and you can’t watch videos.
Overall, despite being a smartphone on your head, Google Glass’ functionality is limited. You can do a lot more on your smartphone and mobile web. In fact, you’re going to need your phone alongside the sophisticated eyewear because Glass needs to be tethered to your phone to allow Internet access and connected via Bluetooth to allow phone calls, SMS messages and email notifications.
Google claims that the battery will last a full day, but that’s far from the truth. Tests indicate normal use will kill the battery in five hours max. The battery will be dead in two hours if you take a lot of pictures and videos.
Problematic Privacy Predicament
The scary part about the gadget is how no one will know you’re recording them. It’s loaded with features that, if abused, can secretly gather information about anything or anyone.
There’s no LED or blinking light to indicate you’re recording. People in your vicinity, even strangers, will be anxious of you possibly documenting whatever they’re doing or saying. Movie piracy may also be heightened by Google Glass.
Complaints about images going back to Google’s data centers can also rise, especially when Google has a history of privacy blunders.
This kind of technology has so much potential for facial recognition, because augmented reality glasses should be able to display the name of people they recognize, like in the movies. Police departments and the military might benefit from this feature, but the rest of the society is probably not ready for it.
Google Glass is the next step into the future. It’s fun and brilliant, but features aren’t enough to justify the $1500 price. If you’re a developer looking to create Glass apps or are a hardcore tech geek with money to burn, this is a good buy. However, if your pockets aren’t deep, consider waiting for the second or third generations. You’ll be better off with just your mobile phone anyway.