The buzz around Glass, Google’s ‘smart’ eyewear, has been as unmissable as, well, Google Glass on someone’s face. From privacy concerns that have seen it barred from bars and casinos to a pre-launch campaign that saw it handed to such luminaries as Clerks director Kevin Smith, Lieutenant Worf from Star Trek: TNG and Soulja Boy, of Crank That fame, it’s grasped the attention of the world like few other gadgets. But what’s it like to wear every day? And is it really the future of tech, and of social interaction?
First up, yes, you will look decidedly odd wearing Google Glass, at least early on, when you’re the only man in Gurgaon with it. If you’re okay with that, good for you: The tech and ethos of Glass really are fascinating.
The hardware is light at 42 g, and feels more comfortable than most prescription specs. It looks fragile but is actually surprisingly resilient and can survive being dropped and thrown about much more than you’d expect.
Once it’s on, you have to swivel the tiny prism that projects the screen into your eye line, and hey presto, you’re a glasshole, as San Fran early adopters have been so cruelly dubbed.
The heads-up display hovers in the top right-hand corner of your vision, and at first feels strange and intrusive. But, after a few hours that subsides, and you find yourself forgetting you’re wearing it a lot of the time. The design means that when the screen is switched off, you can see through it and act like a normal, non-cyborg type.
On the left-hand side of the specs is the touchpad. You use this to scroll menus, organised as flip cards. Some of the cards have folded edges, which means they contain more information. For instance, clicking on an email lets you view past conversations. It works reasonably well, but if you subscribe to several apps and are getting email, news headlines and social updates, things can become a little laboured, scrolling through dozens of cards. The apps are limited. The idea is that the developers who have been handed the specs will rectify this by the time Glass—or its successor—goes public.
You can send and receive texts, emails and calls, and see updates from social networking app Path, while taking pictures and videos, then uploading them to other social networks. There are also basic apps from CNN, The New York Times and some others giving very simple text and picture info. Audio is conveyed via a bone-conducting speaker and there’s a mic in the arms. The former sometimes gives an odd buzzing sensation, but generally works well.
Google’s own apps are the most polished, as you’d expect, with Maps and Google Now both very impressive. Unsurprisingly, you need an Android phone to get the most out of Glass, and setup is easy; download the MyGlass app, join it to your Wi-Fi network and choose the apps you want.