The tech world is buzzing about Google Glass, the hottest new innovation from the Mountain View, CA Internet overlords. Google Glass is science fiction futurist dreams made real: a headset-mounted computer that integrates the digital and physical worlds.
Currently, so-called “Explorer” Google Glass headsets are only available to industry experts, members of the media or other individuals selected for the Google Glass pilot program. If you’re lucky enough to be one of these Google Glass pioneers, you can stare through your headsets to see virtual data projected about whatever you happen to be looking at.
As the Explorer reviews are coming in, however, it seems that Google Glass may not be living up to all the hype. Let’s take a closer look at some of these early adopter reports and describe how Google Glass is supposed to revolutionize the world:
How Google Glass Works (It’s Not Magic)
Right now, you can’t get your hands on a Google Glass headset unless you sign up with Google and get selected to join the Explorer program. Even then, the unit will set you back around $1500.
But once you’ve got the headset in your hands, all you need to do is configure the nose-piece and the eyepiece. They’re both adjustable so that they can properly fit the contours of different faces, with the eyepiece sitting just above your left eye.
It doesn’t block your vision when it’s engaged; rather, you’ll glance upwards a little bit to see what’s on the display.
Based on The Verge‘s report, actual connectivity isn’t quite as streamlined as many have anticipated.
In fact, your Google Glass headset won’t even be able to connect to a mobile network on its own. To use Glass, you’ve got to be connected to a WiFi point of access, or have the device tethered to your phone. Critics note that this tethering will drain your smartphone’s battery pretty quick.
Further, if you want to connect your Glass headset directly to your password-protected WiFi access point, you’ve got to use the My Glass app or a separate computer before you can get plugged in.
If you want to make a call on Google Glass, you’ll have to wait until that Gmail contact has been specifically added to your Glass account by syncing it a separate computer.
Needless to say, setup can apparently be a little bit tedious.
The Google Glass User Experience
Once your Glass headset is all set up, you’re ready to go, right? Well, sort of.
The interface is a simple one. On the right side of the headset is a little flat surface where you can tap, swipe, and physically manipulate the system. Swiping backwards takes you to your settings panel, while swiping forward takes you through a carousel of recently-accessed items.
If you’re in an area with a lot of LTE coverage, you should be able to have as much data access as you need, but actually interacting with the information you desire might be another story altogether.
As The Verge points out:
“Glass’ ability to look up important information on the go is extremely thin right now. Googling ‘Sir Richard Branson’ brought up only the barest ‘oh, that guy’ blurb, and other web searches were similarly limited to identifying websites rather than actually reading their content.”
Additionally, the article indicates that the display isn’t super easy to use, especially when you’re doing something that takes up a lot of your attention like driving a car.
Looking at the display requires that you look up from the road, and the display brightness is often too dim to be clearly seen. For now, it’s probably best to keep Google Glass off the road.
On top of all this, less than an hour of usage reportedly chewed up nearly a third of the Verge reviewer’s smartphone battery.
Some Improvements Are Necessary
It’s pretty clear, at this point, that Glass is a great idea that still needs some fine-tuning. It’s unknown when the technology will be perfected or commercially available (not to mention more affordable).
Google Glass may change the world and permanently alter the way we interact with our surroundings — or it may end up gathering dust alongside laser discs and 8-tracks.
What do you think? Will Google Glass be the way of the future? Share your thoughts below.