Google glass

Not only is Google replacing your phone’s screen, Google Glass replaces the whole device.

Google Glass (photo credit:
Google Glass
(photo credit:
How many times have you wanted to slip into profanity as you tried to make your cellphone do what you need it to? As a computer technician, I frequently hear complaints about obtuse menus, nonsensical or missing options and the general lack of clarity which is part and parcel of smartphones today.
Even the “friendly” phones, such as the iPhone, can be very daunting upon first use and counterintuitive for people who learned to compute in an era where devices had buttons. Even worse, the entire interface for most cellphones changes every few years and consumers have to learn how to use the device all over again. Thankfully, at long last, technology companies have begun listening to our complaints.
The revolution began with Apple’s SIRI, which launched on the iPhone 4S. SIRI is a digital secretary which works using natural speech recognition. That means you can just talk to your phone and it will (mostly) understand you. You can talk to SIRI pretty much the way you talk to anyone, for example, you can ask “is it going to be cold this week?” or tell SIRI “tell my wife I’ll be late” or even, “remind me not to forget my purse when I leave” and SIRI will do whatever it is you asked of it. Still, the evolution is incomplete.
Although SIRI is a major setup in replacing the complexity of modern cellphones, it is only an option, not a full replacement. You still need to use the phone’s touchscreen and menus for most operations. Also, to use SIRI you need to pull out your phone and press the “listen” button. As a result, SIRI can’t do things like snap a picture of what you are looking at or pull up some information, since it is sitting in your pocket. This is what Google plans to change with its latest secret project: Google Glass.
For most people, the words “Google” and “Glass” don’t really go together. Whenever someone mentions “Glass” regarding their phone or computer, it is generally in the context of cleaning up the remains of their device or screen from the floor. While Google’s choice of words could be better, the project is quite impressive. Google Glass is a specially-designed glasses frame with a small screen over your right eye. The screen being so close to your eye makes it seem like the image displayed is “projected” in front of you, much like the Iron Man suit in the movie Avengers. Besides the coolness factor, this lets you do away with the fragile glass screens that are the bane of all the smartphone users who have ever dropped a device.
Not only is Google replacing your phone’s screen, Google Glass replaces the whole device. There are no buttons, no touch screen and no complicated interface. Google Glass works entirely by recognizing what is around you and interacting with you by your voice. For example, looking at the window can pull up updated weather information and looking at a product could pull up reviews for it, no interaction required. If that wasn’t cool enough, Google Glass recognizes commands like “Take a picture of this” to take a photo of whatever you are looking at the given moment.
It is easy to see what the engineers at Google were thinking when they designed Google Glass. Besides a coolness factor which is taken directly out of a sci-fi movie, the glasses provide a clean escape for boring situations such as meetings. Have you ever sat in a meeting and been dying to entertain yourself, if only you could without being obvious? With Google Glass you can watch the latest episode of your favorite TV series as your boss drones on about revenue and synergy with no one being the wiser, since the image of what you want to see is being projected silently directly onto your eye without you needing to have your cellphone out in plain view.
Once you take the glasses out of the labs, though, you begin to have some problems. There are many parody videos showing what might happen to people who are so busy dealing with pop-ups and other information from their glasses that they bump into random objects and passerby. There would be an epidemic of people walking into traffic and other horrific accidents if people were too busy watching TV or surfing the net to see where they were going. Not to mention the obvious social implications of ignoring a wife or co-worker and being busted.
Even worse than distracted pedestrians, when it comes to driving, Google Glass is a sort of mixed blessing. On one hand, you can use the GPS features to find your way without needing to look at your phone/navigator at the expense of paying attention to traffic. On the other hand, you could be watching a movie instead of paying attention to the road at all. The temptation to just check your email for a minute or to catch up on TV might prove irresistible to those stuck in traffic and might lead to more accidents, rather than fewer.
For those of you who want to get your own digital glasses, Google isn’t selling them just yet. However, before you despair: some prototypes have been seen out of the lab and it is possible they will be ready for sale sometime early next year. I predict many satisfied geeks with shiny new glasses and many long lonely nights on the sofa as they can’t resist checking their email mid-boring story by their significant other.