We’re officially living in the future. It’s been a while since a piece of technology has been so highly anticipated, and finally… some authentically innovative new tech. We were fortunate enough to go hands on with the limited batch of Explorer Edition Google Glass released to developers (thanks Grand St!), and wowzers, what a device.
So what is Google Glass? There’s so much buzz about it, but it’s not so clear. It’s not a cell phone on its own, but it’s not so far off. It’s a wearable computer; it runs a custom version of Android and leverages your phone’s texting and calling capabilities, similar to how Siri or Google Voice activation works over a bluetooth headset. Most notably Glass offers a heads up display and can take 720p video and images with its 5 megapixel camera. It has built-in WiFi and you can video chat and surf the web right from the little head mounted display that floats in your field of vision.
Google Glass looks and feels just like glasses, but the frame only. They come with sunglass lenses and clear lenses, both of which are optional. They weigh no more than regular shades, and have a very premium look and feel (except for the finger prints they collect). The technology is all housed in the left temple (side) of Glass. There’s a sole button for turning it on and off and the whole temple is a touch panel that supports taps and swipes.
The hardest concept to grasp is what on earth does it look like to wear Google Glass. There’s a tiny display that literally floats in the upper right corner of your field of vision. It’s not like looking at a screen, it’s like focusing on a floating translucent image. If your eyes don’t focus on the display, you’ll look right past it and forget it’s there. The display has an auto-off, and at any point you can tilt your head up to turn it back on and tell it to do something.
Right now, Google Glass is a bit limited, but still surprisingly polished. You can take pictures, record video, use Google Now, start a Google+ hangout, search google (but not really browse the web), translate, get directions, and send/receive messages. Google Now can do a ton, it can remind you of your appointments, get the weather, display sports scores, flight information, restaurant information, you name it.
Unless I was in desperate need of directions, I wouldn’t have much of a reason to wear Glass all day (other than impressing my friends and looking like a nerd). There’s already a derogatory term floating around: gla$$holes. By the time Glass is available to the public there will hopefully be a lot more features that make everyday usage more practical. Contrary to my assumptions, it’s not entirely voice based, there’s a lot of features that require touching and swiping Glass’s temple. It’s very comfortable to use and decently intuitive.
The Google Glass Explorer Edition is essentially a beta edition of Glass for developers and die-hard enthusiasts who won the privilege to buy it. Us simpletons can probably expect to see Glass in Q1 of 2014 and hopefully at a much lower cost than the $1,500 price tag on the Explorer Edition.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.