Tag Archives: Google Glass

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Getting the most out of Google Glass

You bought Glass, so now what? You’ve got $1500 of wearable headset time to get out there.

Get Setup

First get your phone setup and connected to Glass. Make sure you have tethering turned on so you can use Glass everywhere. If you have an Iphone make sure the MyGlass app is working. This will give you data and navigation everywhere.

Next practice using the screencast feature on The MyGlass app. This lets you show people how it works without having to take it off, get it setup on their heads. This comes in handy for times when you get asked for details.

Third go and get a few apps setup. I recommend Weather Alerts, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook and Google hangouts. Winkfeed which does RSS feeds is also pretty cool, but can be a overwhelming. SocialRadar is coming soon and you’ll want that too.

Your first adventure

Now put on Glass and go out and do something. I suggest a trip to the park, museum, a hike a bike ride or just a long walk.

Glass really shines as a kind of video journaling tool. Practice making short ten second videos that you will later be able to pull together to help recall and share the experience from your POV. You can share these moments as the happen on Facebook, Gplus or twitter or wait until it is over.

Get past that awkward dating stage

You might feel a bit awkward. Rather than taking off your Glass remind yourself you are a cyborg, living in the future. As I’ve walked around I’ve noticed that most people don’t even notice you have it on.

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The feeling of awkwardness will pass quickly (after a few times out).

Dealing with questions and gawkers

Once or twice a week you will get asked by random strangers overcome by curiosity, “What is that thing on your face, or is that Google Glass.” It is easy to get tripped up into thinking that someone wants a long explanation and a long social interaction is required of even expected. In my experience most people are satisfied with short and concise answers:

Q: Hey dude is that Google Glass
A: Yes
Q: what do you think of it?
A: It’s great.

Keep in mind that this stranger’s inquiry is like the “how are you doing?” part of a business conversation. They stranger doesn’t really want to hear about your problems. If the stranger wants more details they will ask. In my experience strangers are generally excited to see the new gadget, and acknowledgement that they saw it is all they are looking for. You will mostly make them uncomfortable by detaining them with your detailed product review. Be polite but minimalist in your interaction.

Google Glass Review

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I’m still waiting for my own pair of Google Glass. I managed to borrow a pair for a few minutes and here are my first impressions.


  • The Screen — The screen was smaller than I expected. Hold your right arm out with two fingers together pointing left. The screen is about two fingers high and from the tip of an index finger to the middle knuckle wide. I plan to prototype UI wireframe a with small sticky notes.
  • Overall Experience — it was less intrusive and awkward than I expected. It was a little hard to get the screen in the right place, but once I did it was very clear. The bone conducting speaker made the audio from Glass very clear even in a crowded room. I could see myself using this without feeling like a guy with a bluetooth headset.
  • Apps – I got to play with the Navigation, NY Times and picture taking apps. The navigation app was pretty cool and I think this will be killer. Photos and video are difficult to see what you are getting because the resolution on the display (640×320) isn’t high enough to show detail. You won’t be using Glass as an eReader yet.
  • User interface — the user interface is driven by voice commands and flipping forward and back touching the side of the device. The apps are based on a card / menu driven system, sort of like a hypertext PowerPoint. Voice recognition was fairly good, but the menu driven nature of things and limited display space will challenge designers.
  • Battery life — the Glass users I talked to suggested that battery life is a weakness of the current product generation. Continuous usage seems to be 1-3 hours before the device needs recharging. However the device isn’t on all the time, so this should be find for more casual users.

It is rumored that Glass will not be widely available to consumers until next year. I anticipate that Google will refine the device before shipping. I hope that they are able improve the screen and battery life before GA.

Bottom line: I will buy this as soon as I can. Even as a first generation technology it is very compelling.

Three Dimensions of Augmented Reality — Background For Educators

Augmented Reality is an emerging technology that will have a profound impact on how we engage with the physical and virtual world. I’ve written this blog to give educators some more background on this trend. Here is a quick visual example of the capabilities that emerge from this technology. In this short video you will see virtual dominoes placed on a real object using a touch screen. Next the user “touches” the physical space and the virtual dominoes fall down.

Defining Augmented Reality

I define Augmented Reality or “AR” as a set of technologies that integrate the physical world with digital information to create a enhanced and unified experience via a seamless user interface. Consider apps that combine the smartphone viewfinder, GPS and camera to augment perception of the physical world. An example of this is Blackboard’s Explorer for iPhone app or Wikitude.

There is more to this than just hacking the smartphone viewfinder. To better explain this technology I’ve grouped it into three dimensions: X, Y and Z coordinates.

The X Axis: From 5 Senses to 5000

Consider the impact real time computer sensory data on top of our own biological senses. We can provide the user with enhanced perception, continuous biological monitoring, improved motion and location services. As mentioned above AR Apps like Wikitude and Blackboard Explorer leverage a smartphone, viewfinder and GPS to enhance the visual experience. The form factor of looking through the smart phone viewfinder is still a bit awkward. This fall (2013) expect to see devices like Google’s Project Glass provide an integrated “heads up display” for early adopters. The number of sensors being integrated into our phones and apps is enormous. My Nike’s talk to my phone while I run. I’ve got a Neurosky headset that can give me a real time EEG readout while I mediate. Apps are helping us sleep better by monitoring how restless we are in the bed. Near Field Communications chips and QR Codes are creating cheap infrastructure for hyperlinks between the real world as virtual.

The Y Axis: Motion Capture Based Interfaces

Gestures are already taking over from the mouse and keyboard on tablets and smartphones. Gestures captured via cameras on our computing devices using gadgets like XBOX Kinect and the Leap Motion Controller are the next wave. There are already really cool classroom activities and lessons built around Kinect. Leap Motion announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January that a number of manufactures will have their device built into high end laptops and gaming PC’s later this year. This technology is important because it simplifies the user experience and makes it easy for developers to merge physical and virtual space. As seen in the domino example above this synthesis creates interesting possibilities for simulation and interaction.

The Z Axis: 3D Projection Maps

Capturing motion and augmenting perception are increasingly combined with digital projectors to create 3D projection maps. Already this tech is appearing at concerts and stage performances. These technologies enable a digital projector to generate geometric shapes that are placed on real objects on a stage. Multiple projectors can be linked to create some awesome displays.

Look at this performance by Dandypunk called, “The Alchemy of Light” for a really stunning example of an interactive performance using 3D projection maps.

Educators should be excited about the new kinds of immersive learning simulations that will appear as this technology goes mainstream. I encourage more DIY/maker minded educators to look for ways to get students building projects that leverage these devices and systems. Most of these technologies have robust online communities and open source tools to help get you started.