The golden age of the smartphone and tablet PCs might be over soon. The future is here: Google Glass has arrived. You may think that this wearable computer with an optic head-mounted display (or OHMD) is something conjured up in the mind of a science fiction writer, but it has actually been around since early 2012 and has been gaining a lot more attention in the media in recent times.
The device is still being tested and is not available commercially. Interested Beta testers had to fork out $1500 (about R15,000) for a chance to play around with this awesome hi-tech device. Google is also distributing the device to various stores selling sunglasses in the United Kingdom and the United States to allow users to test the device before its release.
Google Glass is basically a camera, a display, a touch pad, a battery and a microphone which has been built into spectacle frames. Users can bring up a display in their field of vision, take video or pictures, search, browse the internet and translate while they are on the move. The device displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format. Users can interact with the device using natural voice commands or by using the touch pad (which is built into the frame).
According to Google the device’s display is “the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away”. No word is out on the resolution of the device, but some sources have said that it appears to be 640 x 360 pixels. The Google Glass display HUD doesn’t take up the full field of vision on the device, only the top right hand corner. The microphone is also built into the same arm as the touch pad.
At the moment you can use Google Glass for directions. It uses Google Maps but is not fitted with a GPS so you’ll have to pair it with your smartphone for better functionality. The device can be set up to transcribe or translate what is being said in front of users. It also allows users to reply to messages that they receive on the fly.
The built-in 5 Megapixel camera doesn’t have a viewfinder because it doesn’t need one – it records or takes pictures what you see (i.e. first person perspective). The device currently has 16 Gig built-in storage of which 12 Gb is available to users. Google Glass also supports cloud computing – you can connect with your Google Drive account with the device.
The final device will probably be fitted with built-in Wi-fi and Bluetooth to ensure that you can pair with your mobile devices with ease. The sound for the consumer device will be produced through bone conduction transfer – this means that your skull will basically vibrate and transmit sound to your ears. It’s also expected that you’ll be able to charge the device with a Micro USB cable and charger. Battery life is rumored to be around a day for the Google Glass.
The aim of project Google Glass is to develop a computer for the masses that is ubiquitous (which basically means “present or found everywhere”). It’s also an attempt to free the world from desktop computers and mobile devices like mobile phones and tablet PCs. This is an age old idea that has been around for quite some time. The “heads-up display” (or HUD) concept has shown up in many science fiction TV shows, movies and novels over the last century. Google Glass is merely just turning fiction into reality.
Third Party developers are already working on apps for the the Google Glass. One of the apps being developed will enable you to find your friends in a crowd and another will allow you to dictate an e-mail. The sky truly is the limit with this device. Only time will tell which awesome apps will be developed.
Google Glass is expected to be available to consumers in the United States by the end of 2013. No release date has been specified for South African consumers as of yet, but chances are that it will only be available here sometime in 2014. No excite pricing details have been released to date either.
The popular tech website Engadget reviewed the Google Glass two months ago, this is the review that they posted on YouTube:
What are your thoughts on the Google Glass? Feel free to comment on this article and let me know what you think. Feedback is appreciated and welcome here.
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