The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – Dec. 4, 2013
Whether you like it or not, technology invariably is playing an increasing role in your life. This isn’t just a new phenomenon as technology has been permeating our collective consciousness since our ancestors of long ago came to realize that rocks and tools assisted them just as electronics assist us today.
It should come as no surprise to learn that out of 2,000 Americans randomly sampled by the app tester SOASTA, 84 per cent of those surveyed responded that they use their smart phones before they even leave their bed in the morning.
It is this phenomenon, that people have an incessant need to be both connected and informed, that Google is hoping to capitalize on with the introduction of Google Glass, the company’s first foray into wearable computing.
“The whole idea is Glass is a very new technology; there really isn’t anything like it on the market. It looks new and different, and people have a lot of ideas about what it does and what it does not do,” said Anna Richardson White, communications manager for Google Glass at the Google Glass preview in Detroit last month.
Google is hitting the road with Glass and visiting at least one American city a month to dispel myths about the new technology, allow potential customers to use the device, and presumably to help get the population ready and accepting of Glass before its inevitable and rapid rise.
A few of the myths Google is attempting to dispel is the notion that the device is always on and recording video or taking photos, that the screen is always illuminated and that the device itself is distracting.
“The default is always off,” said White. “You’re never going to have it accidentally turn on and send an e-mail or anything because you have to tap it or nod your head [to activate it] in a pretty exaggerated way… and then that’s just to turn the screen on. Then you have to speak to it through verbal cues.”
While White uses the device to take photos and videos on the fly, she explained that she primarily uses the device for communications. “E-mail, text messages, seeing my calendar [and] making sure I’m not missing anything, directions or traffic reports… things like that; all the useful things you love about your smartphone.”
Google unveiled the Glass Explorer program earlier in 2013, using the hashtag #IfIHadGlass to invite users to share on social media how they would use the new technology. Those chosen to participate were granted the opportunity to spend $1,500 on the device and allowed both passive users and developers to use Glass.
This campaign garnered 8,000 Glass Explorers and as such, $12 million in the Google coffer; not bad for a beta rollout.
While Glass may seem like a device for techies and business types, White took effort to explain that Google sees a wide range of applications for the everyday user: watching music lessons on YouTube, learning new recipes in the kitchen and doing arts and crafts for example.
The backbone of Glass is the Android operating system, and while some apps that exist on your current smartphone will run on Glass, most will need to be modified to work.
Not seeking to be limited, however, Glass has partnered with nine major companies to develop Glasswear (apps for Glass), including CNN, the New York Times, Elle Magazine, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Evernote to name a few.
“Computers have just continued to get smaller, and now we’re seeing a wide growth of this wearable computing industry with [computer wrist watches], glassware, smart glassware… it really just is an evolution,” said White. “We feel like we’re adding to the environment that’s already been created, we’re just taking it a step further.”
Glass is expected to hit the consumer market in the United States in 2014 and is rumoured to come to Canada in 2015.
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.