What is Google Glass?

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By: Anthony Yang

Technology is ever-evolving and we have seen huge leaps in computing and smartphone usage in the past few years. Desktop computers sales are dropping, laptop computer sales are flat, and smartphone sales are soaring. Smartphones are mobile computers. Most of the tasks for which we used a computer are now being delegated to our smartphones (e.g. answering emails, visiting web sites, searching, even creating content). Naturally with the maturation of smartphone development, there is a push to integrate technology even further in to the lives of the people who have adopted the smartphone. This year it will be all about “wearable” technology.  

Wearable technology peripheral sales are surging this year with the release of smart watches, fitness monitors, virtual reality headsets, and of course Google Glass. Every major technology company that manufactures hardware has released or will release wearable technology. Google is trying to push it even further with its wearable computer known as Google Glass.  

With an estimated 1.75 billion smartphone users by the end of 2014, people are looking to smartphones to end their dependency on desktop and laptop computers. But having a mobile computer in your pocket also allows for things that are just not possible with desktop and laptop computers. The smartphone camera is putting a serious dent in, if not overtaking, the point-and-shoot camera business. The explosion of social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat can be directly attributed to high quality photos that can be captured with a smartphone camera. We can instantly capture something in the moment and share it in real-time with our family and friends.  

But how can we take it to another level? Samsung, Apple, Fitbit, Pebble and many others are trying to answer that question and we will see their best answers this year. In 2012 Google began allowing a select group of people to test the features of Google Glass to help improve the product for public release. Google Glass is essentially a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. It has a camera for video and photos, GPS for location recognition and navigation, gyroscope for orientation recognition, voice recognition for verbal commands, a touch sensitive panel for navigating its menu system and much more. But features are not really useful on their own and what Google has done is integrate Google Now, Google’s answer to Siri, in to Glass. This really makes the biggest difference. Now all of your web searches, emails and web browsing behavior are used to serve you helpful information.  

Your Google Now results can be displayed right on Google Glass. For example, when you receive an email from your airline with your flight itinerary, Google Now will glean that information, serve it as a card that will tell you your flight information and keep track of the on-time status of your flight in real-time. It will also keep track of the traffic to the airport from where you are and let you know when it is time to leave without being late. From there you can get navigational directions right through Google Glass.  

Being invited to be part of the Google Glass Explorer program is very exciting. I want to thank CIO, Don O’Hagan for finding the funding for this project, because he knew how great it would be to have Google Glass at Caldwell University.  Without the support of Don and the leadership of the college this opportunity may have passed us by.  No one knows how Google selects candidates, but I am sure they aim to get a wide distribution of beta testers to explore new ways to use Glass. I can’t wait for our students to use Glass and experience firsthand its amazing capabilities.  

So let’s answer some common questions. No, it is not a phone or tablet that you wear on your head, although you can make and take phone calls with it. Google Glass is mainly a device for sharing your experiences via video and photos, searching the web for answers, finding a place using GPS, and showing the world from your point of view.  

Not many explorers are based in the higher education arena, and I’m sure that our students will think of some amazing ways to use it. If you are a student, and have a great idea about how to use Glass, submit your Google Glass idea to me at ayang@caldwell.edu.  

It is my goal to regularly post about Google Glass features and the great ideas that our students come up with.    

Anthony Yang is Caldwell University’s web developer.

   


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