Google goes wearable with Glass

Google hasn’t been a search-only operation for some time, but recent projects are highlighting the company’s commitment to pushing the limits of tech.

Along with expanding their advertising efforts, Google has become a major player in mobile and continue their development of driverless vehicles.

Another promising project is Google Glass, a head-mounted display designed to keep users seamlessly connected to the web and their social circle.

First announced last year, Google released new details about Glass this week.

Glass

Project Glass is a thin, lightweight device that is worn on the head, similar to lensless glasses.

A small display rests on the device frame above the right eye, capable of putting information, photos or media in the user’s field of vision.  This provides a real-time augmented-reality experience.

Glass doesn’t have physical controls and can only take voice commands, providing a completely hands-free experience.  Users can command Glass to take photos or videos, display a map or search the web, among other tasks.

Glass doesn’t have cellular data access, but can interface with smartphones through Bluetooth to connect to the web.  In addition to photos, Glass can capture 720p, which can be shared with friends or saved for viewing later.

Google hasn’t revealed all of Glass’s features yet, but some actions Glass can do are searching and displaying photos, connecting to video chats, real-time mapping and language translations.  Initiating one of these actions puts the resulting information in the heads-up display or via a spoken response, giving the user seamless access.

Wearable computing

Glass is part of a trend in tech called “wearable computing.”  These devices can be worn on the body and provide persistently available technology.  Glass fits this by being essentially an always-on, wearable and hands-free smartphone.

Head-mounted devices, like Glass, have long been in development, but Glass is the one of the first of its type to be both relatively unintrusive and backed by a tech powerhouse like Google.

Google founder Sergey Brin feels that people constantly on smartphones are “socially isolating” themselves and that Glass provides a better way to retrieve and view information.  Glass aims to use the technology of a smartphone in a manner that doesn’t reduce the user to phone-staring zombie.

Wearable computing will become a big market, as companies look for ways to more efficiently integrate technology with life.  Apple is rumored to be working on a technology-infused watch, while Sony already has an app-enabled watch with its SmartWatch product.

Explore Glass

Glass is a difficult concept to explain and text definitely doesn’t do it justice.  Thankfully, Google launched a hub to outline the Glass project and show what using the device is like.

To view Glass and watch a user experience video, view the Glass hub at http://www.google.com/glass.  Joshua Topolsky of the Verge (theverge.com) was given a chance to demo Glass and wrote a fantastic piece on his experience, which can be read at http://bit.ly/Yrnk54 .

Last week Google allowed potential “Glass Explorers” to apply for the chance to purchase an early development version of the device for $1,500.  The deadline has since passed, but users interested in the future of Glass can register at http://bit.ly/YFOd6d.

Glass product director Steve Lee told the Verge that Google hopes to have a consumer version of the device out this year, so keep watching for more Glass information as development continues.

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