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Google Glass

xSight HMD by Sensics, Inc.
 
Google Glass (styled as "Google GLΛSS") is a wearable computer with a head-mounted display (HMD) that is being developed by Google in the Project Glass research and development project,[7] with the mission of producing a mass-market ubiquitous computer.[1] Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format,[8] that can interact with the Internet via natural language voice commands.[9][10] While the frames do not currently have lenses fitted to them, Google is considering partnering with sunglass retailers such as Ray-Ban or Warby Parker, and may also open retail stores to allow customers to try on the device.[1] The Explorer Edition cannot be used by people who wear prescription glasses, but Google has confirmed that Glass will eventually work with frames and lenses that match the wearer's prescription; the glasses will be modular and therefore possibly attachable to normal prescription glasses.[11]
 
Glass is being developed by Google X Lab,[12] which has worked on other futuristic technologies such as driverless cars. The project was announced on Google+ by Project Glass lead Babak Parviz, an electrical engineer who has also worked on putting displays into contact lenses; Steve Lee, a product manager and "geolocation specialist"; and Sebastian Thrun, who developed Udacity as well as worked on the self-driving car project.[13] Google has patented the design of Project Glass.[14][15] Thad Starner, an augmented reality expert, is a technical lead/manager on the project.[16]
 

Development 

Although head-worn displays for augmented reality are not a new idea, the project has drawn media attention[17] primarily due to its backing by Google, as well as the prototype design, which is smaller and slimmer than previous designs for head-mounted displays.[18] The first Glass demo resembles a pair of normal eyeglasses where the lens is replaced by a head-up display.[19] Around August 2011, a Glass prototype weighed 8 pounds; the device is now lighter than the average pair of sunglasses.[1] In the future, new designs may allow integration of the display into people's normal eyewear.[10][20]
According to several Google employees, the Glass was originally predicted to be available to the public for "around the cost of current smartphones" by the end of 2012,[21] but other reports stated that the Glass was not expected to be available for purchase by then.[22][23][24]
 
The Explorer Edition is available to testers and Google I/O developers in the United States for $1,500, to be delivered in early 2013,[3] while a consumer version will be available by the end of 2013 for "significantly less" than the Explorer Edition.[25][26]
 
The product began testing in April 2012.[27] Sergey Brin wore a prototype of the Glass to an April 5, 2012 Foundation Fighting Blindness event in San Francisco.[28][29] In May 2012, Glass was demonstrated in the first test video shot with the eyewear, demonstrating the 720p HD first-person video recording capabilities of the device.[30] Sergey Brin demonstrated the Glass on The Gavin Newsom Show, and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom also wore the Glass.[31] On June 27, 2012, he also demonstrated the Glass at Google I/O where skydivers, abseilers, and mountain bikers wore the Glass and live streamed their point of view to a Google+ Hangout, which was also shown live at the Google I/O presentation.[32] In February 2013, Google released a demo video showcasing the voice-augmented display of the Glass filming various experiences in first-person.[33][34]
 
Google is currently working on models that can be used with prescription lenses. In a Google+ post, Google stated that it will not be ready for the Explorer Edition of Glass; however, consumers can expect it later in 2013.[11]
 

Glass Explorer Program 

An early adopter program named the Glass Explorer Program is available for developers and consumers to test Google Glass and gauge how people will want to use Glass. Entry into the Explorer Program was made available to the general public on February 20, 2013, and ended on February 27, 2013. The program stated that it was looking for "bold, creative individuals" who wanted to test the device. Those who wanted to apply were required to post a message on Google+ or Twitter consisting of 50 words or less, featuring the hashtag #ifihadglass. Those who were selected were required to attend a Google Glass event in either New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles to pick up the developer version for $1,500 USD.[1]
 
 The Explorer Edition receives data through Wi-Fi, or it can tether via Bluetooth to an Android device or iPhone and use its 3G or 4G data; the Glass also has a GPS chip. The Explorer Edition is available in Charcoal, Tangerine, Shale, Cotton, and Sky colors.[35] Users issue voice commands by first saying "ok glass", then the command, or they can scroll through the options using a finger along the side of the device. The Explorer Edition has an interchangeable sunglasses accessory which twists on or off. Monthly updates to the Glass are planned after the program starts.[2] On April 16, 2013, Google announced that the initial Glass Explorer Edition units had completed production and would begin shipping.[36] On the same day, Google also released a web-based setup page for Glass,[37] as well as the MyGlass companion app.[38] Developers were also given first access to the Mirror API for Glass.[39]

Features 

Photography and video 

Google Glass has the ability to take photos and record 720p HD video. While video is recording, a recording light is displayed above the eye, which is unnoticeable to the wearer.[40]

Google applications 

Glass will utilize many already-existing Google applications, such as Google Now, Google Maps, Google+, and Gmail. Third party applications announced at South by Southwest (SXSW) include Evernote, Skitch, The New York Times, and Path. [41]

Third-party applications

On April 15, 2013, Google released the Mirror API (application programming interface), allowing for developers to start making apps for Glass (also known as Glassware[42]).[43] In their terms of service, they have stated that developers may not put ads in their apps or charge fees.[44] However, a Google representative told The Verge that this may change in the future.[45]

Voice commands 

Multiple features of Glass can be seen in a product video released in February 2013:[34]

Technical specifications 

For the developer Explorer units:
  • Android 4.0.4 and higher[4]
  • No official information about display resolution, 640×360 suggested, as it is recommended for app developers[46][47]
  • 5-megapixel camera, capable of 720p video recording[6]
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g[6]
  • Bluetooth[6]
  • 16GB storage (12 GB available)[6]
  • Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 SoC 1.2Ghz Dual(ARMv7)
  • 682MB RAM "proc".
  • 3 axis gyroscope [48]
  • 3 axis accelerometer [48]
  • 3 axis Magnetometer (compass)[48]
  • Ambient Light sensing and Proximity sensor [48]

Reception 

There have been parodies and criticisms aimed at the general notion of augmented reality glasses, ranging from the potential for Google to insert advertising (its main source of revenue) to more dystopian outcomes.[specify][citation needed] However, Google has stated it has no plans to insert advertising.[49][50]
Spoof images of celebrities using Google Glass have popped up on various sources as well. These celebrities include Barack Obama, Kate Middleton, Prince William, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, etc. [51]
In November 2012, Glass received recognition by Time Magazine as one of the "Best Inventions of the Year 2012", alongside inventions such as the Curiosity Rover.[52]
After a visit to the University of Cambridge by Google's chairman Eric Schmidt in February 2013, Wolfson College professor[53] John Naughton praised the Glass and compared it with the achievements of hardware and networking pioneer Douglas Engelbart. Naughton wrote that Engelbart believed that machines "should do what machines do best, thereby freeing up humans to do what they do best".[54]
 
The eyewear's functionality and minimalist appearance (aluminum strip with two nose pads) has been compared to Steve Mann's EyeTap,[55] also known as "Glass" or "Digital Eye Glass", although Google Glass is a "Generation-1 Glass" compared to EyeTap, which is a "Generation-4 Glass".[56] According to Mann, both devices affect both privacy and secrecy by introducing a two-sided surveillance and sousveillance.[57] Concerns have been raised by various sources regarding the intrusion of privacy, and the etiquette and ethics of using the device in public and recording people without their permission.[58][59][60] There is controversy that Google Glass would violate privacy rights due to security problems and others.[61][62][63] Privacy advocates are concerned that people wearing such eyewear may be able to identify strangers in public using facial recognition, or surreptitiously record and broadcast private conversations.[1] The "Stop The Cyborgs" movement has attempted to convince people and private companies to ban the glasses in their premises.[64]
 
Some companies in the U.S. have posted anti-Google Glass signs in their establishments.[65][66]
Other concerns have been raised regarding legality of the Glass in a number of countries, particularly in Russia, Ukraine, and other post-USSR countries. In February 2013, a Google+ user noticed legal issues with Glass and posted in the Glass Explorers community about the issues, stating that the device may be illegal to use according to the current legislation in Russia and Ukraine.[67]
Concerns have also been raised in regards to operating motor vehicles while wearing the device. West Virginia state representative Gary G. Howell has introduced an amendment to the state's law against texting while driving that would include bans against "using a wearable computer with head mounted display." In an interview, Howell stated, "The primary thing is a safety concern, it (the glass headset) could project text or video into your field of vision. I think there's a lot of potential for distraction."[68]

Terms of service 

Under the Google Glass terms of service for the Glass Explorer pre-public release program, it specifically states, “you may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person. If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google’s authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty.” Wired commented on this policy of a company claiming ownership of its product after it had been sold, saying: “Welcome to the New World, one in which companies are retaining control of their products even after consumers purchase them.”[69]
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