There’s no doubt that one of the most awaited products of the decade has been Google Glass. There’s also no doubt Google Glass will change the way we see the world. The step Google is about to do is just enough to engage humanity with augmented reality, which is the ability of a system to adding or subtracting information in order to manipulate the perception of reality. The possibility for applications of this technology are huge, and they range from motion systems helping drivers move safely across the city, to information systems for solving all kinds of issues in a wide range of scenarios. The most important of its kind so far, taking into account that it’s not the first attempt to create an augmented reality device, is Google Glass. For what it represents, its design, the way the device works and most of all, its promising future, it has become part of the popular culture, and it isn’t even out yet.
For those who still don’t know what are we talking about, Google Glass is a headset that allows you to do all the things you do on your mobile device (maybe not navigating the internet the usual way, yet) in a wearable device. However, despite the advantages a device like this can bring on a global scale, its design is still in a development face, both hardware and software, making it a product difficult to review due to the changes that will probably be implemented in the future. This article will focus on the design aspects concerning this awesome device, and how it can improve the way we see reality analyzing the implications of an extended use of Google Glass.
Software and Hardware design features
Glass is an integrated device fully created by Google, composed by software and hardware parts. It has a great user interface; it is basically composed of outlined icons, simple sans serif typography and squared transparent containers that make it simple to use and very pleasant to the eye. It works by voice commands and touch gestures on a side panel. While observing, you have the sense of being looking at a 25-inch screen seen from 8 feet away, and transparencies work perfectly for this purpose since they don’t become intrusive or dangerous for the user.
On the other hand, the hardware design is also interesting. Although people using them look odd, they have a particular style which make them stand out. Its main feature is a prism, which refracts the information previously processed and redirects it right to your retina; it is also composed of a touch panel on the right side (side that also contains the internal hardware), the one you control system features with, and lastly, the lens, which are apparently not included within the set, but being a necessary part to make the glasses look like actual glasses.
It’s amazing to see how the device has changed since its inception; at an early stage it was basically some circuit boards, cables and the prism attached to regular wearable glasses. They managed to reduce all this (with the exception of the prism) and pack all those components into a tiny, elegant and lightweight device. However, it is still too bulky for a regular consumer product.
This device would be very important in different disciplines and aspects of life. Today we have a different world thanks to the rise of mobile devices and Internet, but Google Glass will create a whole new range of activities, and improve some others.
Street journalism is something that would definitely change since every user becomes a potential journalist. Nowadays, a small but important rise of street journalism is flourishing with the massive adoption of mobile phones and internet; but in a near future, you’ll no longer need to take your mobile device out of your pocket because just with a voice command you can start recording a video or taking a picture of some injustice. The best thing is you can upload it to Internet right away or live stream it from your location to reach thousands of people around the world, avoiding misleading information from traditional media.
The way we drive our cars will be also affected. Augmented reality could help reduce car accidents, help us drive accurately, measuring the distances between cars and knowing better schedules and routes, reducing the amount of cars in the streets. This will be the previous step for having integrated systems that relieve humans from the responsibility of driving giving it to the machines, less prone to creating disorder and making mistakes.
The way we work can actually improve since you will not only be using them as your regular glasses, helping you see better, but also as an additional source of information, increasing productivity and reducing time consuming tasks.
What needs to be better?
In an interview with The Verge’s editor-in-chief Joshua Topolsky, Steve Lee, product director of Google Glass, said it was important to find a way of integrating technology in social interactions, instead of making it the way it’s been done, which does not complement social interactions, but instead interrupt them, and as a plus, helping them when needed. So in that way, what needs to be improved starts by fulfilling this first requirement.
Social interactions can greatly change by adding the option to research whom the person in front of us is through their public personal information, interest, work status, the way they feel and express, and even the level compatibility with us, all of these with the purpose of easing the first steps in social interactions with unfamiliar people as a user noted in this interesting Quora question.
Also, the size of the prism is too big; I know it is done that way for a reason since Google won’t create an uncomfortable device just for fun: However, reducing it will not only make it look better, but it will reduce questionable issues like the users’ safety. Wearing a device like this is a bait to criminals, thus by reducing component and making them less noticeable or by integrating the device to actual glasses, users can feel free to wear them without worrying about being robbed and hurt.
Google Glass needs to integrate built-in Wi-Fi; it just cannot be possible for a device this important to rely on other devices for it to work properly. The current gadget actually does not have access to Internet by itself; you need to have a phone and Bluetooth to use important features that can only be used with Internet. This could be solved (and I hope Google does) by adding a nano SIM into it. Bluetooth can be added as well, giving the device a new range of capabilities, like making calls, live streaming and sharing all sorts of content.
Regarding the OS, it is important to add a camera viewfinder, which is not included since most of the times people have to guess where to point in order to take a picture or record a video. Just a simple improvement in the OS could do the trick nicely.
And finally, we all hope there is a substantial price cut, of course. A price of 1500 is just too excessive for the regular consumer to afford, and if Google wants this device to have the power we all expect, a reduced price is a must for massive adoption.
These design changes, if implemented correctly, can lead a new stage in the development of humankind, making us more aware of our environment and providing the tools to improve the world for good.