Thursday, February 20, 2014

Google Glass – The future is here, or at least around the corner

If you thought that there couldn’t be any more tech gadgets to surprise you and leave you a bit flabbergasted, think again. Enter Google Glass. Google Glass is a wearable computer using an optical head-mounted display that is being developed by Google within their plan Project Glass, with a mission of producing a “mass-market ubiquitous computer”. Yes, that does sound like a term from an ominous sci-fi movie.

Google Glass displays information in a smartphone manner with a hands-free design that can interact with the wearer using voice commands. The frames do not have lenses fitted to them at the moment, but Google is considering partnerships with sunglass retailers like Ray-Ban and may also open retail stores to allow customers to try on the device. The Explorer Edition cannot currently be used by people who wear prescription glasses, but Google has confirmed that Glass will soon be able to be attached to prescription lenses. 

Glass is still very much a prototype, even after 8 months of testing and developing. The first thing noticed about Glass is the cube-shaped glass prism that sits above the right eye. It has a 640 x 360 resolution and hangs just out of the way of the wearer's line of sight. For the wearer, the display has to be viewed by pointing the eyes up and to the right – which possibly could look strange and cause major headaches – and acts as a much larger screen; one that's equal to a 25-inch High Definition television.

There are about 8 thousand "Explorers" currently – a group of engineers, scientists, artists, and journalists in the U.S. – who were allowed to buy and test Glass for about $1500, about R15 000. At the Glass office in New York, they got a crash course on how to connect Glass to the Internet, take videos, snap photos, get directions, perform Google searches, return e-mails, make calls, and much more. And all this using just your voice with an instruction that begins with “Okay, Glass.”

Google Glass is still in its developmental stage but is expected to be released in the latter part of 2014. But don’t get too excited. The cost of Glass is likely to be pretty exorbitant until Google finds a way to mass produce it and make it accessible to those masses. And that’s not the only downside to Glass. This could potentially be one of the most disruptive pieces of technology to be invented in current years and has also become a regular subject in legal circles around the U.S. But whatever may come of Google Glass, the development of the technology is fascinating and mind-boggling and will most likely become “ubiquitous” just as Sergey Brin and his Google guys want it.

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