Google Glass may seem intimidating or a bit over the top at first glance, but the device is technologically beneficial not just for businessmen, but for backpackers and the ‘average Joe’ as well. The technology takes the features most people have come to love about their smartphones and carries them not just one, but a few steps further. Still in the ‘Explorer’ phase of release, the product is being continually updated and improved upon. The projected release date was originally said to be the end of 2014, however, Google recently tweeted that they have no official public release date at this time. They did state that the expected cost of the next version is to be less than $1500.
The Glass Explorer program is currently in use in the United States only. There have been multiple updates to the software since its inception. The current version is XE 16.1. Most recent updates include Google Calendar, which was previously Google Now. The change allows for the use of additional features. Tapping on the Google Calendar card from the timeline allows you to change the title, time, location and RSVP as well as delete the event or dismiss it from your timeline. Updates also include SMS notifications from your phone, with Bluetooth use on both devices. Changes to screencasting and the settings menu have also been made to make them more user friendly by displaying in a separate menu with new display messages to inform users when the application is off rather than just a blank screen. These updates are great for consumers who have been following Glass regularly, but for those just tuning into the world of Glass, some basic information would also be great to know.
Glass can be designed to fit your style. A variety of frame versions and colors are available. Glass can be fitted with your eye prescription and can even come tinted to reflect the use of sunglasses. Earbuds can be ordered in five different color shades as well. The device is lightweight, and is essentially a wearable computer, with an optic-mounted display. Users can do a variety of things that they typically do on their mobile device such as view the weather, navigate and post social updates. Photos and video can be taken with Glass, and unlike previous devices, Glass can capture these images hands-free.
Hands-free may not initially sound like a ‘needed’ feature in a device, but think of things such as snowboarding, cooking or even swinging your child around in a circle. Wish that you could capture that image in front of your eyes but do not have the third hand to keep life going while capturing that shot? You do not need the third hand when the voice command can do it for you. For people with limitations due to physical impairments, like those who may be missing a limb or unable to use them, hands-free is a great feature as well. Tasks and applications previously not available to this population become available.
The hands-free technology can be applied in not just personal settings, but professionally as well. One current ‘Explorer’, Patrick Jackson, is a firefighter and self-taught programmer. He is working on a Glass app that will help firefighters visualize building floor plans and extraction diagrams for vehicles. Currently the program can only link Patrick to dispatchers and assist in messaging, but it still provides assistance in situations where all the help he can get is useful. Patrick is continuing to develop the app and believes that Glass will be used globally in the firefighting field one day.
Aside from hands-free, Google Glass has many new implications that bypass smartphones. An application that is equally beneficial to businessmen and backpackers is the Word Lens app, which uses Google Glass to translate printed words in real time. This essentially means that if one is looking at a sign or a document, the app will translate the document from whatever language it is in to one’s selected language. Suddenly the menu in Chinese does not look foreign. If one is getting a tattoo and does not want it to say, “I had tongue for lunch,” the app can help ensure that the words say what was intended.
For outdoors people, or those who just enjoy a workout, Glass has some apps that improve those experiences as well. The device can play music and keep the beat going while also tracking workout progress. It can also record distances and map running routes. In the event one’s feet get a little off track, it is also equipped with a compass.
Fieldtrip is an application within the device that takes travel to a whole new level. It basically combines all the information needed when on a field trip, even for adults. Local history of a location or building, insider and local suggestions for a town, and even architectural designs are available not at the fingertips, but to the eyes.
Glass already has many uses that can help in everyday life, and the potential for its implications are just being realized. Although still in the works, Google Glass is developing into a device that may not just be for businessmen and backpackers, but will be in the backpacks of teenagers all over the world. While there are some mixed reviews on the product as of now, these bugs are being worked out and the product will continue to grow. Once a place without cell phones, the impact and ambient applications of Glass are left up to the world, forever changing and unknown.
By Latasha Alvaro