Google Glass Gets New Frames, Prescription Lenses

by Stan Schroeder

Though Google Glass’s main appeal lies in the camera and the smart circuitry located above the right eye, at the end of the day smartglasses are still glasses, and users would like to have options when it comes to frames and lenses.

Well, now they do. Google has announced the Titanium Collection for Google Glass, with four new extra-light titanium frames as well as two new styles of twist-on shades.

The new frame styles, which functions pretty much as your regular prescription frames, are named Split, Thin, Bold and Curve. Twist on shades are now available in a total of three varieties: Edge, Classic and Active. And even if you’re not entirely satisfied with the choice, worry not: Google claims more styles will be coming.

The new styles will be available to Explorers (users who’ve participated in the Google Glass beta program) as a $225 upgrade option Tuesday afternoon. Qualified users who need prescription lenses and have vision insurance from VSP can get subsidized frames and lenses.

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Google Glass driver Abadie has case dropped

Cecilia Abadie wears her Google Glass outside a San Diego, California, court on 3 December 2013

Cecilia Abadie was an early adopter of Google Glass wearable technology

A woman issued with a traffic ticket for driving while wearing Google Glass has had her case dropped in California.

Cecilia Abadie was pulled over and given a ticket for speeding and wearing the smart spectacles while driving on 30 October.

A San Diego court commissioner ruled on Thursday he had found no proof the device was operating at the time.

She was cited for breaking a California law barring motorists from watching TV while driving.

After the ruling, Ms Abadie, who develops Web and mobile applications, said the glasses do not give drivers any “blind spots”.

“I believe we have to start experimenting with devices like this,” Ms Abadie told reporters. “A hands-free device is safer than a cell phone.”

She was one of an estimated 30,000 people initially selected to try the device before it becomes widely available this year.

Device ‘turned off’

In October, Ms Abadie was pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer for driving at 80mph (128km/h) in a 65mph zone on Interstate 15 in San Diego.

The officer observed Ms Abadie wearing Google Glass and cited her for using a visible “monitor”, a charge typically issued to people driving while watching a television screen.

The device includes eyeglass frames equipped with a camera and small display controlled by voice command.

Ms Abadie has argued the device was not turned on when she was pulled over.

Court Commissioner John Blair said during the hearing he believed Google Glass fell under “the purview and intent” of the ban on driving with a monitor.

But he said there was “no testimony it was operating or in use while Ms Abadie was driving”.

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Pebble vs. Google Glass: Why The New May Triumph Over The Radical

Smartwatches could win out over augmented reality gadgets simply because they don’t make us nervous.


Technology develops in fits and starts. It’s the reason we tech types make the manic pilgrimage to a convention center in Las Vegas every year to check in on it. It’s why software updates pop up on our phones every few months in increments. Outside of science fiction, quantum leaps aren’t supposed to happen.

With few places left to install computer systems, technology we can wear is the de facto hot new thing. Mobile engagement is through the roof, so we might as well see that trend to its logical conclusion and wear the damned things around. In the last year alone, fitness trackers have exploded onto shelves and iterated quickly. The “smartwatch” is suddenly a product category that we take seriously. And the imagination of the public remains captivated by Google’s moonshot wearable, Google Glass. But imaginations and pocketbooks don’t always see eye to eye.

With no direct competitors to speak of, Glass, still in its early developer days, looks to be in a league of its own. But viable, smart wearables just picking up some mainstream traction could actually prove the biggest threat of all. Among them, the Pebble smartwatch—a hardware whim Kickstarted into being—is in exactly the right place at the right time, pun retroactively intended. (Sure, Pebble isn’t the only smartwatch out there, but until the advent of the iWatch, it will likely remain the best.)

Competitors In A Strange New Ring

I own both Google Glass and a Pebble. Wearing both at once feels surprisingly redundant, and given my Pebble’s lower profile, it makes wearing Glass feel stupid. Which is a funny thing considering just what a wonder device Glass really is. Considering its sensors and processing power, Glass is leagues smarter than my smartwatch.

Yet my Pebble “does the trick” quite nicely, while Glass feels like cartoonish overkill—Wile E. Coyote taking TNT to our modern technological malaise.

What is that malaise exactly? According to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, smartphones are socially isolating, and that’s a big problem. In Brin’s early vision of our near future, with Glass, we could live in our experience rather than around it (you know, tweeting, Googling things, refreshing Facebook).

Put another way, for the first time since the smartphone shackled our collective gaze to confines of so many small LCDs, we could do both—we could have our lives and live them too. Pebble was conceived with a similar, simple goal: “get notified without checking out.” Technology, both devices posit, should get the hell out of the way. 

As dissimilar as they seem, both Pebble and Glass are working toward the same end. Both devices revolve around the idea of providing a non disruptive flow of notification data, a sort of wearable ticker on the side of reality that we can glance at and quickly away from. Worn together, without configuring them individually, Glass and Pebble deliver redundant information: duplicate texts, two of every email. Essentially, when combining a wrist-worn wearable with a head-up display like Glass, both devices backfire, demanding more of us and not less. Two might be a crowd.


Is It Too Soon For Glass?

Glass and Pebble, both hardware marvels in their respective weight classes, embody very different means to a shared end. Glass is a grandiose reimagining of the way we live, work and play, a prescription (pun not intended this time) to wholly cure us of technological angst. Glass explodes the claustrophobic parameters of our smartphone’s micro-world, superimposing that data onto reality itself in a way that still looks and feels like Star Trek.

It’s no surprise that, after a few solid months of wonder, now cynicism prevails in conversations around Glass: it’s cool to hate Glass because it’s just too out there—now take this thing off my face, I look like an asshole. (This is technology! Where’s your sense of imagination?) When it goes on sale later this year, Google Glass may very well be met with a collective shrug from the mainstream, signaling that society just isn’t ready for it. Google, happy to see its moonshot come to life, may or may not even care.

In the booming field of wearable technology, the face is controversial terrain. Steve Mann, arguable father of wearable computing, has been wearing a less elegant, ever-evolving version of Google Glass for more than three decades—but that didn’t stop him from getting roughed up at a McDonald’s for looking weird.

Other facial augmented and virtual reality experiments like the Oculus Rift seem to inspire fear and fascination in equal parts. What society is ready for, though, is a stepping stone toward Google’s futuristic visor, one that shows the way to the other thing, the one that’s too “out there” even if it’s here right now.

Wristwatches have been in vogue for a century and in development for centuries before that, though they’ve never delivered much but the time. When it comes to wearables, the power of the familiar form factor—one nowhere near the fragile social plane just before our eyes—can’t be underestimated.

When I wear Glass in public, it literally stops traffic. People do double takes at stop lights, slapstick comedy style. I leave my house with the knowledge that complete strangers will fling themselves toward the thing on my face with a mixture of fascination and incredulity. Even for a person who likes weird, it still feels weird.

Google Glass: Less scary than video games.

Google Glass: Less scary than video games.

When I wear my Pebble, which people notice and recognize more often than I’d expected, people ask how I like it. They don’t want to try it on or see it in action, because they can imagine it themselves. It’s like a tiny smartphone for your wrist, sort of. But a smartphone draped over your field of vision like a HUD in Mass Effect? It makes people squirmy. If the future is now, there are a lot of unsavory ethical and social implications to start thinking about—and hey, don’t planets blow up in most sci-fi?

The Right Place At The Right Time

If Glass is the precocious kid in school that asks too many questions and makes everyone uncomfortable—should he like, even be here?—Pebble is a straight A student. The latter performs well above average and plays by the rules. The precocious kid is less predictable. Sometimes he blows everyone out of the water, sometimes he fails out because no one else really “got it.” (Of course, sometimes he bubbles back to the surface in five years with a crazy-successful startup.)

Which fate will befall Glass? We’ll know soon enough. But hey, at least we know what to expect from the other kid. The one that doesn’t make us nervous.

Flee from zombies and giant boulders with the Race Yourself fitness app for Google Glass



Fitness apps seem like a perfect fit for Google Glass, given that the head-mounted computer is devoid of wires and requires a minimal amount of input from your digits.

Race Yourself is a promising piece of Glassware that, using augmented reality, gives you an avatar to compete against in the real world. Over 30 game modes will have you racing against yourself, a giant Indiana Jones-style boulder and even hordes of zombies.

It’s a similar premise to fitness app Zombies, Run and augmented reality experiences such as SpecTrek, although we expect the Google Glass implementation will be more appealing to fitness enthusiasts.

2236060 orig 730x408 Flee from zombies and giant boulders with the Race Yourself fitness app for Google Glass

The app will also support multiple activities, so you can cycle against the Peloton in the Tour de France or skydive through virtual rings in the sky. If you’re struggling to keep up with your fitness regime this could be a fun, effective way of staying motivated and beating your records.

Race Yourself has a working beta version of the app and will be launching a pre-order crowdfunding campaign later today on its website. The video below will give you an idea of what the Google Glass app will look like in action:

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Google Glass Meets Prescription Lenses–Something Every Geek Will Love

by John Nosta, Contributor

OK, I admit it.  I’m a geek.  And my glasses have been a badge of honor that I have worn all my life. And when Google GOOG +1.11% Glass became available, it was love at first sight.  Well, almost.  As a Google Glass Explorer, my first experience with Glass was fascinating, but awkward. My clunky glasses didn’t really match with the streamlined design of Glass and the result was a little bit like inviting a kid to a candy without the permission to indulge. But now there’s a exciting new option that aligns with the expected commercial launch of Glass–prescription Glass!  And there’s no better place to show off the innovation than at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show. I’ve been wearing mine for 22 hours and 17 minutes and…well…I’ve found that illusive “love at first Google Glass sight.” What’s particular interesting to me is the ability to shift my field of vision from distance right to the Glass display. It’s an amazing experience that I couldn’t reproduce with contacts or my traditional glasses.  Simply put, this represents step forward to Google Glass and the utility of HUD in our lives.

Glass certainly represents an important step forward in technology and connectivity. Prescription Glass lenses is another step in making HUD less of a novelty and more a mainstream accessory for everyone.  Robert Scoble

Rochester Optical Manufacturing Company is the first optical company to offer proprietary digital lens designs specifically optimized for Google Glass wearers who require prescription lenses for visual acuity.  As I have come to learn, it’s a bit more complicated than just putting stadard lenses into Glass.  The nature of the HUD presents a problem–compounded by other issues including bifocal lenses.

Rochester Optical’s Prescription Google Glass

The technical perspective on Google Glass: The location of the HUD on Google Glass, forces the wearer to gaze in an upward direction. Normal prescription lenses are not designed to optimize the visual acuity in those upper gaze directions, leading to a blurring of the display, and visual fatigue as the eye itself tries to compensate for the movement to a less clear viewing area. Rochester Optical scientists have created a new design where special care is taken to remove unwanted aberrations perceived by the wearer in the directions of sight associated with the HUD, giving the wearer a clear vision of the HUD, as well as the normal clear vision their lenses provide of the world around them. The design of the RO GOLD lenses is intended to enhance overall visual acuity and to reduce eye-strain and fatigue.  “After many months of testing multiple lens designs as Glass Explorers ourselves, we could not be more pleased about making our GOLD lenses available to prescription glass wearers.” – Wendy Emerson, member of the Rochester Optical Glass Team TISI -2.65%

Rochester Optical Manufacturing Company is also offering a proprietary designed full frame carrier for the RO GOLD prescription lenses for Google Glass wearers. This patented new frame is called Glass Prescription Lens Carrier (GPLC), and resembles regular eyeglasses where prescription lenses are mounted to a structural chassis for rigidity. The full frame design allows a wide variety of prescription powers, lens designs, and lens materials to be fabricated and mounted securely to Google Glass. The full frame design allows wearers to fashion themselves with different frame shapes and multiple colors choices to suit their personal preference and style. “Style and fashion was one the primary deliverables for R&D  as we were designing the GPLC’s; they had to look fashionable and offer a variety of frame styles and colors to fit the personality of the wearer.” – Tim Moore, member of the Rochester Optical Glass Team

Rochester Optical’s Glass Optimized Lens Designs (GOLD)® will be available in Digitally Surfaced Single Vision, Digitally Surfaced Straight Top 28 Bi-Focal, and Digitally Surfaced full back side Progressive lenses.  These lens designs come in a standard plastic CR-39® material, a light weight impact resistant Trivex® material, and in thin and light High Index materials.  These lenses will be available with options including Anti-reflective coatings, photochromic lenses such as Transitions® and with choices in Tints and Scratch Resistant coatings. Prices for RO GOLD digital single vision lenses starting at $99.00 with upgrades available for an additional cost. Rochester Optical’s Glass Prescription Lens Carriers (GPLC) are priced at $129 each. Rochester Optical’s RO GOLD lenses in conjunction with Rochester Optical’s proprietary Glass Prescription Lens Carrier (GPLC) will be available for ordering in late January, 2014, and will begin shipping in early February, 2014.

OK, it’s now been 23 hours and 14 minutes.  My vision–near and far–is perfect and my HUD lets me know that it’s time to get read for my talk at CES.  Yes, it’s shameless promotion, but if you’d like to hear me, Robert Scoble andDaniel Kraft (all Google Glass Explorers) talk about “Quantifying the Quantified Self”, come by on Tuesday afternoon and you can even get a chance to see one of the very first pairs of prescription Google Glass at work!

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Review: Google Glass Explorer Edition 2.0


Gizmag reviews the Google Glass Explorer Edition 2.0

When Google first told us about Glass back in 2012, it was very much an unattainable product of the future. Hell, it even had a futuristic-sounding name: Project Glass. Yet here we are, less than two years later, and countless folks have plunked down a cool US$1,500 for the Explorer version of Google’s smart glasses. That future may still be in beta, but it’s here nonetheless. Join Gizmag, as we review the Google Glass Explorer Edition 2.0.

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that the Google Glass Explorer Edition is very much a beta product. Google could make huge changes to the final retail version, and this review could ultimately mean very little when it comes to that mass-market edition (expected sometime this year). Of course we’ll still speculate and imagine what the future looks like for Glass, but the only question we can really answer here is whether we recommend snagging an invite and plunking down for the Explorer Edition.

The short answer to that? You probably only want to become an Explorer if you’re a developer or an eager early adopter with plenty of money. But this beta version of Glass does hold a lot of exciting possibilities, as well as a few concerns and some rough edges. If nothing else, it raises some fascinating questions about the future – not just for Glass, but for all of us.


Front of Google Glass

Even if you’ve never used Glass, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with its look. It has an asymmetrical design, with the device’s processor, memory, and other internal hardware housed in a curved plastic bar that hugs the right side of your face. A thinner visor-like portion of the bar wraps around your head to hold everything in place, and it pancakes into another thicker section behind your right ear (where Glass’ battery lives). Two nose pads protrude from wires to prop Glass up.

There’s a micro-USB port on the bottom of the main body, sitting just in front of your right ear. That’s where you charge Glass (more on that later), and also where you plug in optional earbud accessories.

At first Google required Glass Explorers to have an in-person meeting with a Google rep to fit the device to their faces. We skipped that part (Google now gives you the option of having it shipped to your doorstep) and I didn’t have any problems fitting it to my face or my schnoz. I found the nose pad wires to have a great blend of rigidity and flexibility, as you can bend them when you want to, but they stay pretty firmly in place once you find your sweet spot.

Glass is pretty light and comfortable to wear

The front visor that fits Glass to your face also has some bend to it. You can squeeze it and flex it back without feeling like your $1,500 investment is going to snap in two. It applies enough pressure to stay firmly on my head, but doesn’t feel like my melon is being squeezed in a vice grip. It’s understandable if you’d want to treat such an expensive device gingerly, but, overall, Glass feels very durable.

Of course we haven’t yet mentioned the most important part of Glass. Protruding from its main body on the front right side of your face is a small, rectangular, glass prism. You know: the glass. That’s your display, and once you adjust Glass’ fit to your head, the mostly-transparent screen should sit just above your right eye’s field of vision.

The right side of Glass’ body (that thick bar) doubles as a trackpad. There are two main ways to control Glass: with your voice, and by swiping and tapping on that trackpad. It can also respond to the angle of your head (via accelerometer and gyroscope) and the tracking of your right eye (via an infrared sensor), but voice and the trackpad are your primary means of navigating the Google Glass UI.

Glass' right side is used as a trackpad

Glass not only gives you visual feedback on that display, but it also gives you audio feedback. If you aren’t using any accessories, then that happens through a bone conduction transducer that sits above (and a little behind) your right ear. That little transducer sends vibrations through your skull, but I find the sensation similar to having a little speaker sitting near my right ear. The only difference is that other people nearby won’t hear much out of it. You can adjust Glass’ volume in its settings, and if there’s too much background noise, covering your right ear should help you to better hear the bone conduction audio.

The 2nd version of the Explorer Edition that we’ve been using also includes a separate mono earbud accessory that plugs into its micro-USB port to deliver better sound. Glass Explorers also have the option of buying a pair of wired stereo earbuds for $85. For my taste, though, Glass already looks geeky enough without adding a wired earpiece to it, so I’ve been satisfied using the built-in bone conduction for audio.

The current Explorer Edition includes a separate shade accessory, that turns it into a pai...

The current version of Glass also includes an “Active Shade,” which essentially turns it into a high-tech pair of sunglasses. At first, I found it a little cumbersome trying to finagle the shade on and off every time I went out during bright daylight (Google’s oversimplified instructional diagram didn’t help), but I can now get it on and off pretty quickly and easily. Glass also includes a micro-fiber travel pouch, which has a harder shell at the bottom to help protect the most critical parts of the device.

Prescription frames aren’t compatible with Glass just yet (at least not without a bunch of renegade dismantling and reassembling of your $1,500 investment). But Google has partnered with Rochester Optical for clip-on prescription lenses that we expect to hear more about next week at CES.

Pairing and UI

Glass' default home screen, with time and 'OK Glass' prompt

Like most of the early smartwatches, Glass isn’t a smartphone replacement. It’s more of a smartphone accessory, requiring a phone’s Bluetooth connection for on-the-go-data (it can also connect directly to a Wi-Fi network). Right now Android phones work better with Glass than iPhones, as Apple’s restrictions prevent the MyGlass companion app from letting you send or receive SMS through Glass.

The Google Glass UI itself is based off of the ‘cards’ concept that anyone who’s used Google Now on Android or iOS devices should be familiar with. Simplicity and glanceability are the keys here, so each card is usually composed of some fairly large text splashed onto a black background. When you’re reading conversation threads, you’ll also see pictures of you and your pal stacked on the left side of the card.

When you wake Glass’ screen (either by tapping the touchpad or lifting your head) you’ll see a simple home screen with the current time and the words “OK Glass” sitting underneath. This is the screen where you activate voice control. The “OK Glass” option will also pop up after receiving a message or taking a picture (so you can easily send or reply).

After you say the magic words ('OK Glass') you have a decent-sized list of options

Rather than home screens full of app icons, like on a smartphone, each Glass card takes up the entire screen. Swipe forward on the trackpad from the main screen, and you’ll scroll to the right through the various cards in your timeline. Each recent action (like a picture you took or a message you sent) will have a card in the timeline, with the most recent ones first. Right now there’s no user-centric (non-developer) way to organize or clear your timeline. Its job is to give you quick access to whatever you’ve recently been using Glass for.

If you scroll backwards on the trackpad from the main screen, then the timeline moves to the left. Here you’ll find the more permanent cards like weather, navigation (if you’re currently navigating), relevant Google Now cards, and settings.

Many timeline cards let you easily share with friends

As you might expect, tapping the trackpad will select a card. For cards like messages or pictures, this will brings up basic options, such as “reply,” “send to,” or “delete.” For threads with several messages, this will let you scroll through the individual messages. Another nice option (also available via voice command) is “read aloud.” That’s especially handy for reading new messages while driving, jogging, or some other situation where you need to keep your eyes ahead of you.

Swiping down on the trackpad is the Glass UI’s equivalent of a back button. Swipe down to back out of an individual card, and again to turn the screen off. You can also set Glass to turn its screen off when you tilt your head up and then back down again.

Look, no hands!

What will the future look like through Glass?

Now that we’ve covered Glass’ basic hardware and software, we can get down to what you really came for. You know, things like what’s it like to use the damn thing? And is there a place in our future for products like Google Glass?

On its simplest level, using Google Glass means having a smartphone-like display that hovers above your right eye’s field of vision. It means receiving audio cues for notifications, or things like navigation or fitness tracking. And it means having 100 percent hands-free access to a solid camera (more on that in a minute), Google search, and messaging.

To me, that hands-free aspect is what separates Glass from other wearable accessories, like smartwatches. Watches will probably be an easier sell to the general public at first (mostly because they don’t make you look like a science fiction character), but Glass lets you do some important smartphone-like tasks with absolutely no touch required. And it should do much more as developers unleash more Glassware apps into the wild.

The Strava Run app serves as a quick and easy pedometer

I personally think it would be a mistake if governments continue to try to ban Google Glass behind the wheel. Because that’s one of the places where it makes the most sense. Of course lawmakers are going to (understandably) worry about the potential for distraction, but the fact is you can do all kinds of things like send messages, read incoming messages, and search for local businesses without even looking at Glass’ display. As long as you use it responsibly, I see it as the safest and easiest way to do things like that while behind the wheel.

The hands-free portion of Glass starts with a nod of your head. If you turn on a “head wake-up” feature in Glass’ settings, then a tilt of your head up to a 30° angle will turn on Glass’ display. At that point, you can say “OK Glass” and follow it with something like “send a message to Suzie”, “take a picture,” “record a video,” “get directions to McDonald’s” or “Google ‘who’s winning the Lakers game.'”

Until Google gives Glass an app store for third-party software, the “OK Glass, Google …” voice command just might be its killer feature. For queries that default to web results, it isn’t particularly useful (you can browse websites on Glass, but it’s far from an ideal experience). But for questions that Google provides a direct answer to – something that’s more and more common these days – it’s an amazing resource to have hovering above your sight line. You can even use it to tap into Google Now features like setting reminders (which you can also receive on Glass) and checking on traffic or the weather forecast.

Again, the key here is that it can all be done 100 percent hands-free. Glass gives you always-on, always-available answers from the world’s biggest search engine, no matter what else you’re doing. And it’s only going to get better with time.

21st century digital boy

Glass doesn't exactly look 'normal' today, but could greater familiarity change that?

The big tradeoff (well, besides that $1,500 price tag) is that, in order to get in on Glass’ awesome hands-free action, you have to wear some gear that’s guaranteed to draw some stares in public. Prepare for some confused, quizzical, gawking looks from strangers you pass. Or if you live in San Francisco, where strangers are much more likely to know what Glass is, prepare to be called a “Glasshole” by the more disapproving sectors of the tech industry.

The experience of wearing Glass in public was the biggest obstacle I had in the early stages of using it. It’s downright distracting having people look at you like you’re some foreign alien object every time you run to the store or grab a bite to eat. Most adults try to conceal their sideways glances, but you can still pick up on the odd looks. Children, who typically have much less of a filter between their thoughts and expressions, will stare unabashedly with jaws hanging open (I actually prefer their honesty).

The more I wore Glass, the less self-conscious I was about having it on in public … not because people stopped staring, mind you, but just because I gave less of a damn. That’s why Google asks for “bold” individuals to join this Explorer program. You’re very much a Google Guinea Pig and an ambassador for the product, and it’s hard to forget that when you wear it in public. And that will probably continue to be the case until Google starts heavily marketing a retail version.


Glass lets you snap pictures at a moment's notice

Google Glass has a 5-megapixel camera that sits on the front of its main body, to the right of the display prism. The quality of its photos is solid enough, even though it’s easily outdone by basically every high-end smartphone from the last few years.

It isn’t resolution or advanced optics that makes this camera special. Nope, this camera’s secret sauce is how ridiculously quick and easy it is to use. There’s a dedicated camera button sitting on top of the device’s main body (below), which is nice in itself (tap for a still shot and hold down for video). But Glass’ December update takes this speed and ease to a whole new level by letting you wink to take a photo.

There's a dedicated camera button on the top right side

You have to turn it on in Glass’ settings, but the ‘Wink for picture’ option basically guarantees that you’ll never miss a shot, no matter what your hands are doing. Wink your right eye, wait to hear the chime, and you’ll see a picture of whatever you were looking at flash onto Glass’ screen, ready to share. No need to tap any physical buttons, swipe on the touchpad, or utter any voice commands. Just wink and snap.

It can be a little tricky to frame shots with Glass, since the camera’s view isn’t displayed on the screen (the screen does, however, show what you’re recording for a video). After taking enough pics, though, I can usually guess pretty well how the shot will be framed, so this shouldn’t be a huge problem.

Winking to snap a picture is one of Google's more clever additions

After snapping a pic, your instant sharing options are a bit limited. Right now that list includes Google Hangouts, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. If you’re infused in social media, that may be all you need, but I’d like to see MMS and Gmail attachments eventually added to that list.

You can also set Glass to automatically back up your images to a private folder in your Google+ library. And if you’re really old-fashioned, you can manually copy them to a PC with a USB cable.

Battery life

Glass charges with an included micro-USB cable

Battery life is, far and away, the Explorer Edition’s Achilles’ heel. It drains pretty quickly, usually losing about five to seven percentage points per hour – even with light to moderate use. Make video calls or record videos, and it will drain much quicker than that.

Google advertises “one day of typical use,” and I can usually squeeze a full day out of it. But that’s using it pretty sparingly. If you plan on doing anything that leaves the screen on for extended periods, you’ll probably have to grab a charger before the day is over.

Battery life is the biggest concern in the beta version of Glass

If you spend much time during your day sitting at a computer, you can always grab a cable and juice Glass up through your PC’s USB port while still wearing it. Unless you’re alone, though, this is only going to ramp up the potential for stares. “Oh, look, it’s the office/family/neighborhood cyborg recharging himself.”

I’d be surprised if the retail version of Glass didn’t make great strides with battery life. At least I’d hope so, or else Google may have a huge commercial dud on its hands. But, in the Explorer Edition, battery life is something you pretty much always have to keep in the back (if not the front) of your mind.

Retail wish list

Glass on top of its (Explorer Edition) packaging

Battery life is easily the biggest thing we think Google needs to improve before launching Glass to the public. But what else would be on our wish list?

Well, an app store of some kind would be a big plus. Though you can technically sideload apps downloaded from around the web, your main way to install apps now is through Google’s MyGlass companion app for Android and iOS. There’s a solid mix of applications there from Google and third-parties alike, with apps from companies like Evernote, Path, New York Times, CNN, and IFTTT. But it’s still relatively limited. In 2014, when customers buy an expensive mobile device, they expect to have some kind of app store. I imagine Google realizes that, and will launch one alongside Glass’ retail version.

If Google can somehow make Glass look a bit subtler, that would obviously be a huge plus. I’m not sure if the company can shrink Glass’ footprint andextend its battery life all at once (at least this soon), but anything to reduce the geek factor for your average Joe or Jane is going to help its chances.

Of course pricing is the biggest question mark. Google has said that the shipping version will go for less than the Explorer Edition’s $1,500 price tag. But how much lower? We just don’t know, and maybe Google doesn’t yet either. If they can get it down to $350 or so, they might have an instant hit on their hands. Push it above $500, and it’s a tougher sell to the general public. $1,000 or higher, and Google’s basically painting itself into a corner with the same early adopters who are beta-testing it today.

Why Glass?

That glass prism is your display, and where the magic happens

Prospects of commercial success aside, there’s already a lot that I love about Google Glass today. Once you take some of these basic smartphone-like features (messaging, Google, photos, navigation, and so on), make them completely hands-free, and plop them in your field of vision, you quickly realize it’s the most intimate form of computing around. That might not sound like a big deal, but you quickly get used to it.

On an intellectual level, you understand that Google Glass is a tech product that you place on your head that lets you perform these tasks. But on an experience level, these things start to feel like they’re extensions of you. As I’ve said this before, it’s similar to wearing a pair of contact lenses. After a while, contacts make you feel like you actually have 20/20 vision. Likewise, Glass makes you feel like the internet and these smartphone-like features are actually a part of you.

Is that disturbing or amazing? I can see both sides, but so far I think it’s a pretty cool experience. Glass takes many of the things you already do with your smartphone and, well, it kinda integrates them into you. It’s a removable part of you, mind you, but it’s intimate enough that I miss it – almost feel naked – when I take it off.

Google has probably made Glass about as attractive as a 2014 face-computer can be ... for ...

As we said at the top, this isn’t about coming to conclusions or reaching verdicts about the future of Google Glass. But what we can say is that Glass is most definitely a product to keep a close eye on. You probably knew that without hearing it from us, but that’s our take nonetheless.

As Google evolves Glass (and app developers work their magic on it), I think it has the potential to alter our daily lives on at least the same level as smartphones and tablets have. But there are also some huge question marks standing in between today’s Explorer Edition and that potentialworld-changing product of tomorrow.

So, as we supposedly approach Glass’ retail release, it’s now wait-and-see time. What will Google’s engineers and designers come up with? Can they minimize its head-turning appearance – or at least make it more socially acceptable as it is now? Can they improve its battery life by 50 percent or more? Can they do all of this and squeeze it into, say, the $300-500 price range? That’s a tall order, but we’ll see.

Unless you’re an eager early adopter with lots of cash lying around, it’s probably best to hold off on the Google Glass Explorer Edition. But we’d recommend paying very close attention to Glass when it finally ships to the public. It’s far from a guaranteed commercial success, but it is practically guaranteed to be one of the boldest and most forward-thinking products you’ve ever used.

If you are that bold and eager early adopter that Google is seeking (and you live in the US), then you can sign up for an Explorer invite at the product page below.

Product page: Google Glass

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Hyundai developing Google Glass app to control your car’s features

By Jacob Kastrenakes

hyundai genesis (from hyundai)

Google Glass owners buying a new Hyundai will soon be able to control basic functions of their car straight from their headset. Hyundai announced yesterday that some of its next-generation vehicles will be able to connect to Google Glass using an app that will be released alongside its Genesis sedan, its first car to sport the integration. Owners of both Glass and a 2015 Genesis will be able to use the headset to find their vehicle, automatically start it, send addresses to its navigation system, and lock and unlock its doors.



Hyundai will also use push notifications to alert Glass wearers when the vehicle is due for maintenance. For better or worse, the integration stops there though, so there won’t be any added distractions while driving. But even so, Hyundai says that it sees a lot of applications for wearables, so there could be more in the future. “Wearables are a great way to extend the experience outside of the vehicle by leveraging these small screens to quickly access remote features and deliver timely vehicle information,” Barry Ratzlaff, a Hyundai executive director, says in a statement.

For now, Hyundai’s app will have an interface to match Glass, but it won’t have specific features that are tailored to Glass’s strengths. Instead, the Glass app is just another version of Hyundai’s existing Blue Link app, which already offers these same features on iOS and Android. It’s a surprisingly quick adoption of a still-niche technology nonetheless, and at the very least, it’ll probably be among the most futuristic way for consumers to start up a car.