Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Google Glass : My answers to FAQs


Random person: Is that...
Me: Yes. it is Google Glass
Random person: Is it...
Me: Yes. It is awesome!



I have been getting a lot of (stares) and questions about the Google glass. There are a lot of people writing about it too. Here, I try to answer the most common questions/remarks I have gotten so far.
I'll keep updating it as I get more questions. (Let me know if I'm missing any info).


The way I did is, I put on my glass and standing in front of the “Mirror”, did a self interview re-asking myself all those questions. Here it is:


Note: I have not been paid by Google or anyone to do this. All the opinions expressed in this article are my own.


Level: extreme newbie / curious


What is Google Glass ?
It is a wearable computer - a computer that you can wear! :)
Other examples of wearable computers: smart watch(pebble, sony smartwatch, calculator watches), health sensors (jawbone up), you get the idea...
So basically, it is a seems-to-be-futuristic-but-its-already-here-and-the-world-is-moving-too-fast-and-i’m-getting-old device.


How to use it ? What are the ways to interact ?
- It has a small screen (in the a small glasslike looking plastic piece) on which content is projected.
- There is a camera for photo/video capture.
- There is a trackpad on the side which understands swipes.
- There is a microphone and a small speaker.

Update : Google just released this short video of how to use glass:





How does data work ? Do I need to put a SIM in it ?
- It connects to your phone via bluetooth and uses data from your phone plan.
- It can also connect to wifi.


- What is really the use of it ? (posting pictures/videos on social networks don't count)
- Is it really useful ? Or just another gimmick ?
Here is Google's marketing page that tells you what it can do : http://www.google.com/glass/start/what-it-does/
In my words, you can do the following things:
- Use it as a camera (pictures, videos)
- Send messages via email or text (google voice)
- Get turn by turn directions (navigation) - when connected to your phone
- Hangout (video conferencing) with friends on Google+
- Get notified of new important emails, calendar invites
- Access to quick information when needed information (via Google Now) : nearby restaurants, weather, flight info, birthdays - most of the things Google Now does on your android device.
- Moreover, it is a platform not just a device. That means, developers (like me) can come up with (and should come up with) more ‘relevant’ ideas to extend its usability.


Is it perfect ?
Not yet, being a 1st generation device, there is room for improvement. Infact, its not even a first gen device. Google has been very nice to have outsiders to help them build this new product by asking them to try out early version (called explorer edition), test it in the wild, write apps and provide feedback. So, it is not perfect, but the “vision” is great and in the right direction :)


- Isn't it distracting while using ? or even more when you get notified of something, I mean notifications are right into your face.
- Better watch out for the truck coming your way when you are walking on the road
- So, if you get hit by a bus, does Google pay for your medical expenses or insurance payout?

It is surprisingly not distracting. Even I was concerned about this.


Firstly, the display sits above your right eye plus it is not on all the time. So, you can actually see through it. Even when the display is active, you can see through it on the other side. To look at the display, you have to look up slightly.


Secondly, the glass doesn’t start doing things by itself. Most of the notifications you get, just make a small sound (the screen is not activated). Then you can choose voluntarily (just as you choose to look at your phone) to look up to activate it and consume the notification.


It involves the same amount of risk (rather less) that would be when you are walking down the road looking at your phone or wearing your headphones/earphones while walking/biking. Rather I’d argue that the risk is less, since you are looking up and you have better peripheral vision as well as being able to see through the glass.


One of the goals of the product is to set you free from your phone whenever it is not needed.


It is so close to your eyes, doesn't it put strain ?
Nopes, they have designed it in such a way that, when you look at the screen it appears to be 1.5 to 2 feet in front (and above) of your line of sight.


I’m concerned about privacy. Anyone can take photos/videos in public without noticing.
Well, for taking videos/pictures, you need to either 1) press a button or 2) talk to it loudly to feed voice command. That solves the problem for not knowing when someone is taking a picture/video.
Also, do you know there are n number of cameras(and sensors) out there already capturing you that you don’t even know of. And they are increasing, glass is just one of them and it is not even hidden. Its there right on top of someone’s head, may be your own.

Update: Here is more detailed info on privacy by Robert Scoblehttps://plus.google.com/111091089527727420853/posts/SHZJ2giR7pE

What is the price ?
This is the explorer edition and it is priced at $1500


Wow, thats a lot :O
Yes it is. I don’t feel obligated to justify the price. BTW, I got mine free - I won the Glass hackathon at an event :) Be (more) jealous. I have earned those!


What will be its actual price?
Don’t know, however Google has indicated that when the consumer version comes out it will be less than $1500.


When will the consumer version come out ?
I don’t know. Google has indicated it may take another year


Do you work with Google ?
No. I have been a fan of their technologies, I use them, I build apps with them (heard of Android?), I live with their technologies. [Google, I need a life long pass for IO and other Google events :) ]
I do work with an awesome company called Tomfoolery (www.tomfoolery.com) with some crazy awesome people. Check us out and follow us www.twitter.com/tomfooleryhq


Is the Google glass awesome ?
Of course it is :)


Are you biased ?
Of course, I am. (However, I’ll mention the drawbacks later)


You look stupid wearing those.
Yes, I do.


You look awesome wearing those.
Yes I do.


What are the issues you have faced ? What are its drawbacks ?
Just to reiterate, this is the explorer edition. I expect it only to improve from here. Here are some of the issues I have found.
- Without any data connectivity, you can just capture video/photos. You can go through your previous timeline items, however any actions you perform won’t happen.
- Also, with a slow data connection, it can get frustrating.
- The bone conduction speaker is a bit funny. It tickles when it makes sound.
- Also the sound level is not very good. In crowded places its hard to hear. Especially when you are taking calls through bluetooth, it doesn’t help at all.
- If you already wear glasses, then you have to be patient and wait for the consumer edition later. Currently, you have to either wear both glasses (your prescription and google glass) or wear contact lenses.
- Quality of hangout is blurry most times (again depends on data connection)
- Battery life can improve.
- Sometimes I have bluetooth data connection issues. Esp. when I get out of a connected wifi.


Will it be a success ?
I believe it will. But really, I don’t know. There are various factors involved. Price, monetization, acceptance. But, if you ask me about usability, coolness - I’m sold


But I don’t like it. It is invading privacy, it looks stupid, it doesn’t make sense, its too futuristic?
You like it or not, it makes sense to YOU or not, it doesn’t matter. Accept it. It is still coming. If not Google glass then something else will or something else... Be open. Adapt.



Level: Technical / More curious


Does it run Android ?
Yes it does.


Can you run Android apps on it ?
Technically yes. I ran one this morning. (See this : https://plus.google.com/113624528637645978412/posts/Hze7DzPe6MM), but doesn't make sense to do that. It is a different form factor. Even if it runs Android, from app development/usage point of view, it is better to think of it as a different platform.


Do I need to know Android to write apps for glass ?
No. You need to know how to do HTTP calls from any language of your choice (this is the minimum requirement) and you need to know html. Here is their developer website : https://developers.google.com/glass

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