Here at Econsultancy we try to write about Google Glass when we can, because we know it’s of great interest to marketers, and indeed the rest of humanity.
On Friday some of Econsultancy’s Content team tried Google Glass at Somo’s incredible gadget room in its London HQ, where they develop new tech uses for clients (thanks, Somo).
It was fun, but also revealing, so I thought I’d share some of what we saw and felt.
For the complete run down on Glass functions, you can visit Google’s help centre.
Glass is a peripheral
Glass can pick up WiFi, so you can use it on its own. But, out and about, you’ll need to sync it with an Android device that has the MyGlass app. The two will interact via Bluetooth.
Weirdly, I hadn’t read this or given it much thought, though it makes perfect sense. Whether a fully developed Glass will remain Android-only, or gradually become available to iPhone users is moot for now.
However, once it’s out there on the market and working well, it could obviously be a hardware game-changer.
One feels a little vulnerable looking up and to the right
The display is necessarily not right in the middle of your eye. This is to stop Glass wearers from falling down holes.
However, when you want to consult Glass, there is a slight withdrawing from reality that has to happen, just like when you check your phone. When you decide to look at the Glass display, you are distracted from what’s happening in front of you, and it kind of made me want to tell everyone to shut up whilst I used it.
This is probably just something that we’ll forget as we become quicker and more confident Glass users.
The main commands – ‘OK Glass’, and the NY Times app
- Take a picture.
- Record a video.
- Send a message to.
- Get directions to.
- Make call to.
The photos are taken instantly, the videos stop at 10 seconds. These main commands work pretty well, so the device feels like a powerful peripheral that needs a bit of finessing.
We used the NY Times app, and it delivered headlines in a powerful way, but we found it quite difficult to use to any depth because we were quite cack-handed with the touchpad (see further discussion below).
Getting directions is quick and powerful, and is one of the first focuses
Google already obviously has great heritage in maps and directions. It also has heritage in voice recognition, with voice activated search having been around for a while.
On Glass the directions work well. Our Head of Social, Matt, confidently set walking directions to Paddington Railway from our Piccadilly location. An arrow appeared in view and urged him in the right direction.
Google will be working hard on its WPS (WiFi positioning system) tech to make sure that on a WiFi network, Glass pinpoints its wearer accurately and allows exploration indoors.
The voice recognition is both a strength and a weakness
One of the main glitches at the moment is the sensitive microphone on Glass. As we excitedly chatted, Glass picked up the words of its wearer’s interlocutors. So as I composed an email via Glass, other people’s words jumped in.
Similarly at Glass homepage, the device was picking up noise, occasionally moving from the menu.
However, when there was no interference, the voice recognition was very powerful. I composed an email in seconds, and sent it from Glass. Interestingly, when our Deputy Editor put the device on and laughed, Glass pulled up a profile of Korean comedian Ha Dong-Hoon (or Ha-Ha).
Glass contacts are currently drawn from Google Plus
So when we said ‘Ok Glass…send a message to…Josh’, the app retrieved an email address from Josh’s Google Plus profile (he was already in our Circles).
This current restriction is probably to protect the data generated by Glass i.e. no syncing with your Facebook or Twitter apps just yet.
You can see how what is often called the ‘vertical stack’ is becoming more and more interlinked by Google’s single sign-on. Aside from Glass, the easiest way to keep your contacts for life seems to be to add them to your Google Plus and then sync with devices, Gmail etc.
NB, ten contacts can be added directly to Glass.
Gestures are a little sensitive and take practice
The touchpad on the side of Glass is hard to get the hang of. This is because it is outside your field of vision, and we are used to swiping phones we are looking at. The pad is also quite small, and one has to perform three or four gestures on it, tapping, swiping back, forth and down.
After a while this is easier, though it’s obviously not yet as reliable as a phone’s touch screen.
Apps are mostly proof-of-concepts
Seeing that Glass is definitely a working prototype made me realise that a lot of the apps in development (see app directory) are just PoCs. They most likely don’t function properly yet, apart from perhaps five or six e.g. Path, NYC and CNN apps.
Way down the line, Glass could have great uses in education
We were trying Glass with our 15 year old intern, David, who rightly flagged up that lecture notes, recording of practicals, sending of handouts etc, could all be done with Glass, as it’s being done with tablets.
Hopefully, education (not just consumerism) will benefit, with information being served to us where relevant.
Glass isn’t the height of sartorial elegance
The proof is littered through this article...(fyi, I was holding a bottle of spirits as it was a Friday and we were filming a Vine, which we may release at a later date - we didn't drink the vodka and we don't condone excessive consumption).