Life Through a Lens – Google Glass arrives at DTW

Guy wearing Google Glass

DTW Digital and Social Media Manager Guy Bailey takes us through the Looking Glass…

I’m a gadget guy. Always have been, a child of the ZX Spectrum generation, I measured my own and humanity’s progress based on access to the latest advances and cool devices. For most people growing up in the eighties, Tomorrow’s World was the annoying, swotty buffer between Top of the Pops and The Young Ones while for me it was a catalogue from the future.

Glass-boxOne family in every neighbourhood was always the first to have a Walkman, or a Diskman, or the latest Brevill Sandwich Toaster. My dad shared my love of the shiny so it was us. True, it frequently led us down many a silicon cul de sac as we chose the loser in a two-horse tech race – Betamax over VHS, Intellivision over Atari, TCR over Scalectrix – but at least we were at the party.

I continued to blaze a trail through the nineties and noughties with my calculator watches, digital diaries and Palm pilots until the dawn of the Smartphone revolution when everyone got in on the act. When I heard about Google Glass, I turned into a hyper eight year old again.

You can read about what Glass is and does, and why DTW has sensibly got in on the ground floor – but let’s talk about what it was like when my colleagues and I got to hold the future in our hands for the very first time.

The majority of the designers I work with were far more interested in typefaces, fonts and box layout than the actual piece of kit itself. Although Google being Google, it looked exquisite and as if it had fallen through a wormhole from the very near future.

Holding them as if they were made of Unicorn hair and fairy wings, I gently placed them on the bridge of my nose and powered them on. Adjusting the moveable eyepiece into my field of vision, a black welcome screen emerged with the GLASS logo gently appearing.

A welcome video played and guided you through the first uneasy steps into navigating your way around the device. You literally stroke the side of the glasses with your finger forward and backward to take you through various menu settings and double tap it to select your favoured option.

If you make a wrong turn, which is easily done at first, you can slide your finger downwards to cancel the screen and return you to the ubiquitous homescreen with a pleasing clanging sound.

The homescreen is where you will spend most of your time in Glass and can be accessed with a tap of the glasses, lifting your head up to a certain degree or if you specifiy it yourself, by winking. Yes, winking.

karen-glassThe screen displays the time and the phrase ‘OK, Glass’. This is a phrase you will become very familiar with. Say ‘OK Glass’ loud enough for it to hear but not so loud that you look like the crazy man outside Pret A Manger, and you access a list of suggested commands you can give to glass such as take a photo, record a video, send a message, play a game etc.

Glass works via Bluetooth and wifi so can work independently of another Android device or iPhone but it works best when paired with one. This gives Glass access to your email, calendar, SMS messages and more, so you can see notifications and messages in your screen as and when they appear. Other apps also link into Glass and it has its own select utilities that take advantage of its unique capabilities including a star map to identify constellations, Evernote, Tumblr and the busy media professionals’ tool of choice right now – IFTTT.

The camera and video recording features give Glass another unique edge. Filmed from your first person perspective, you literally just look and click. There is also a manual button on top of the glasses for you to take a picture, or hold it for longer and it will start taping a 10 second video clip. If you press the button again during this recording, it will remove the time limit and continue recording for as long as you want to, or your battery allows. Once recorded, you can upload it to any YouTube account you have or share it via email or SMS.

Sarah-glassIt’s an amazing device in itself but, like the iPhone and iPad before it, its key functionality will come out of what the community makes for it. When the iPhone was launched, all everybody was concerned about was call quality and the novelty of web access. Nobody mentioned the App store – which is its primary feature today.

The potential for Glass is huge with geolocation, augmented reality, facial-recognition, real-time video streaming, social networking and journalism uses waiting to be unleashed. Right now, you won’t see too many in the wild, especially in the North East, but as more users join the Explorer program, new and exciting designs come out from Diana Von Furstenberg, Ray Ban and others and word gets out on one or two killer applications and uses go mainstream, then the Glass ceiling will be broken – and recorded live while you do it.