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One Month with Google Glass

January 2014

One Month with Google Glass

I was very excited about receiving  my Google Glass in early December – with it the promise of unparalleled convenience and productivity. Switching it on for the first time I was presented with an on-screen (via the heads up display) video tutorial of how to use Glass. An attractive (but highly intelligent looking) Google employee demonstrated how to activate the device, how to navigate the menu via the touch pad and how to use voice commands.

The setup linked the Glass to my Google account which gave me access to emails and Google +. Out of the box Glass offers some basic functionality including:

  • WIFI, GPS and Bluetooth – These drive all of the other functionality of the device.
  • Google – Using voice recognition you can google pretty much anything and have it presented on a neat little single screen card – with the answer to your query. This is new technology from Google which automatically pulls information from multiple sources and presents a succinct and accurate answer to your search. From here you can simply swipe forward on the side of Glass’s frame to read more or tap to launch a website. Once you are on a website you use two fingers on the side of the frame and move your head to navigate with a mouse cursor and release your fingers to click a link.
  • Message – You can send a quick email by saying “ok glass, send a message to….” then say the contact and dictate your message.
  • Take a photo – By simply saying “ok glass, take a picture” or using the experimental wink feature you are able to snap a quick picture of exactly what you are seeing.  You can then share it with your contacts or Google+ circles.
  • Take a video – In video mode you can take a 10 second video or click on the side to extend this to any length of time. Videos can be shared directly on YouTube or Google +.
  • Google Now – This is something that is now available on iPhone and Android – it looks at your recent searches, calendar entries and email topics to present relevant information to you. For example, I have a flight to Sydney booked so it will tell me what the temperature is in Sydney today. When I arrive at my hotel it will give me recommendations for nearby attractions, restaurants etc.

While these basic features may sound very simple, the ability to do all this hands free is quite liberating. Having young children myself, I’ve been able to take some great photos and videos while playing with the kids.

Once you have the basics, to gain even more functionality you need an Android phone to install the MyGlass app which gives you:

Navigation – To start you give voice commands to ask directions to a particular location. It then presents a 3D navigation of your route as you start driving. The display remains off until an intersection or deviation on your current direction is required. The convenience of not having to look away from the road makes this style of navigation far superior to anything else in the market in my opinion.

Screencast – You are able to have exactly what is being shown on glass also showing through your phone. This is great for helping people to navigate through the various screens and functions.

Glassware (this is the name for apps that are developed for Google Glass) – I have installed a heap of apps - some for fun, some for productivity and others to just try out. Here are my top five.

1.    Evernote – I use this on my iPad, notebook and PC already. It is a note taking app that syncs over the net to all your devices. I found it great for jotting down ideas, or mini projects that I’m working on. With Glass you simply say – “ok glass, take a note…” then start dictating.

2.    Stop Watch and Timer – This is fairly self-explanatory but you can do this without having to reach down to your phone or watch to start and stop.

3.    Compass – Although this looks very slick it probably has limited use. It shows you your exact heading and changes as you turn your head.

4.    Recipes – There is an app called AllTheCooks which allows you to record your own step by step recipes with pictures all hands free. It also allows you to look up recipes and follow the steps as you go. Forgot an ingredient - no worries tilt your head up to see the ingredients list at any time.

5.    Word lens – In addition to asking Google to translate words via voice you can look at signs in a foreign language and have them translated in real time with this app. It’s pretty surreal as it looks like you are looking at the original sign in English.

In terms of my professional and work life – the benefits are still limited. I’ve started playing with one app in its Alpha stage called YourShow – this loads a power point presentation from your google drive and shows you the speaker notes as you click through the slide show. They claim to be working on integrating it with voice recognition so that it automatically changes slides based on where you are in the script. I’m sure there will be plenty more interesting apps to come but the biggest hurdle for now is the price - $1,500 is too much for it to break into mainstream.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014