What can you do with Android-powered eyeglasses?

Google wants your opinion on how you want to use its Android-powered glasses

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY. Google gives the public a preview of its Android-powered eyeglasses

MANILA, Philippines – Google is not telling you how you could use the new technology it is currently incubating. The tech giant is asking you how you want to use it.

To do this, the Project Glass team–the people developing the Android-powered glasses–posted photos of prototypes as well as a video which demonstrate what the glasses can do and what a person wearing the glasses will see in front of him. The team did not clarify how the product can be controlled in their post. The demo suggests that this might be using voice commands–like Apple’s Siri. 

The team–which includes Google engineers Babak Parviz, Steve Lee and Sebastian Thrun–described the technology as “one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment.”

“We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input,” the team said. They added, “we think technology should work for you—to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t.”

Beta test volunteers

Hours after release, the sneak preview has generated a lot of buzz online. The video got over 9,000 comments and 30,000 likes on Youtube. The post on Google+ was shared over 10,000 times and has gotten over 500 comments.

The comments spilled over to the Google+ pages of members of the team behind the project. To one post where Project Glass team member Thrun said, “I am enjoying the tranquility of this very evening,” a Google+ user Tyroniuz Oz responded:

“Your tranquility is about to change I bet with project glass…lol… please please drop my name in for beta testing I honestly would do just about anything to get into this and wield a pair of those glasses :D”

Augmented reality, rescue missions

A lot of the comments were from people either asking when the product will be released or volunteering to take part in the project beta. Many are bursting with ideas on possible uses:

“Integrate it with more Google Maps functionality… Love the voice control ( that should be the only way to control the galsses so make it advanced ). Integrate it more with Google+ like you could share not only photos but also videos,” Google+ user Selim Dridi suggests.

Says Sgaawc Sgaawc, another Google+ user, “I think this would replace the phone itself…! The idea is quite amazing, hope that they would support different languages or the system would be capable to acquire additional commands taught by users. Waiting to try out these glasses!”

Yianni Mavrophilipos says, “So awesome to incorporate this into my motorcycle helmet. Driving the Vespa on the way home and taking a picture of the sunset over the bridge would be fantastic. If you need someone to test out in the real world.. hint hint.”

THE WORLD THROUGH GOOGLE'S EYES. Imagine seeing your notifications float right in front of you with these glasses. Photo by Google

Tony Maro said, “I can already see the idiots running around town waving their phones like they’re holding swords while playing some new MMORPG… Or the guys at McDonald’s wearing them with a server informing them “now place the frozen fries in the oil and push the button located here.” He adds, “People think of doctors using augmented reality for work but I think it’s more likely to be the minimum wage jobs. We’ve got a generation of video gamers not interested in real work so why not turn work into a game?”

User Emmanuel Didier, who introduced himself as an administrative judge, said “I would be interested to discuss possible applications for the courtroom.”

Stan Davis, another comment writer, said, “I am a performing musician who is getting old enough that I forget song words sometimes. If I had a pair of these linked to my android phone could I use them as a lyrics teleprompter, allowing me to see lyrics and see my audience at the same time? That would be a great thing!”

In the article on the subject published by the New York Times, comment writer Iksander said, “Google is to be congratulated on this initiative. It will prove to be enormously useful to the Military, in Search & Rescue work and in Disaster Relief situations. That is just for starters. For example, add infra-red and night vision capabilities and its range of possible usefulness become obvious. I hope DARPA has taken note.”

Accidents, privacy issues

Not everyone is happy with the potential commercial application of the technology, however. A comment writer in the New York Times, user Taneyearth, raised the possibility that the product could lead to car crashes and pedestrian accidents.

Taneyearth, who introduced herself as a lawyer, said “this comment board could stand as Exhibit A to establish that such accidents were eminently foreseeable, and that Google, in putting these glasses on the market, acted at the least with gross negligence, if not recklessness — or even what the law calls a “depraved indifference to human life.”

She added, “Why should manufacturers be allowed to get rich selling devices that pose such an obvious and foreseeable danger? At the least, Google should have to contribute now to a multi-billion dollar liability fund to compensate all the future plaintiffs.”

Other negative issues raised were privacy concerns as well as the possibility that the technology might be used by students to cheat in examinations.

What about the near sighted?

It is unclear whether the technology can be integrated into prescription glasses. Google may need to take this into consideration if it aims to market it to people who do not have 20/20 vision. 

This is particularly because Project Glass, the New York Times reports, could hypothetically also become Project Contact Lens. Parviz, one of those working on the project, specializes in bionanotechnology and has recently developed contact lenses with pixels embedded in the display according to the New York Times article.

One Google+ user, Bill Ballantyne, begs, “Please make a model that works with prescription lenses. Not all of us are candidates for laser vision correction and/or contacts and must keep our ‘analog’ glasses.”

The Project Glass team did not say when the glasses will be available commercially. Earlier reports however suggested a release within the year. – Rappler.com

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