Living and Designing for Google Glass

Living and Designing for Google Glass

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to go pick up one of the first pairs of Google Glass.  Through the Glass Explorers program, #ifihadglass and Google I/O selected designers, developers, and other professionals have the opportunity to build apps—called Glassware—for the device and test it in everyday life.

Glass, out of the box, emulates many of the typical “core” features of your smart phone.  Phone calls, emailing, photo and video (with social media sharing), turn-by-turn directions, and, of course, the ability to search Google.  Glass users have the option to control the device by hand with a touch-enabled panel on the side of the device, or can use voice commands hands-free.  Glass follows a few core design guidelines: don’t get in my way and keep it timely.

However, using Glass isn’t the hard part – the hardest thing is everyone getting used to you wearing Glass.  The first few weeks with the eye wear have been a mix of confused looks and fearful bystanders.  Very few people actively recognize the device and are excited to try it out (I’m always willing to share – come find me).  The rest see Glass as some Big Brother invasion of privacy (see “No, I’m not recording you” for more thoughts on this).

But how useful is Glass right now?  Everyone has a different opinion about the practicality of this new technology.  Currently, the device is limited to a handful of apps previously developed by Google and a few third-party apps developed by Explorers and enthusiasts.  So far, Glass won’t replace your phone (not to mention you need your phone for data when you’re on-the-go), but it creates a lot of potential for presenting information quickly and easily. 

Mechanics or engineers could pull up schematics without needing to wrangle a manual or unwieldy blueprint.  Surgeons can have medical data and patient information in front of them at all times.  Or maybe you just get an alert that tells you when its about to start raining.  This is what makes Glass revolutionary – the device is not about escaping reality; rather, it’s about supplementing it and making it better.  Instead of disappearing into our smart phones, Glass enables datay to become a part of our lives: less distracting and less obtrusive, only there when you need it.

Although it sounds exciting, Glass still has a lot of growing left to do before it’s ready for prime time.  That’s the point of the Glass Explorers program: to help Glass evolve; and I’m excited to be a part of that opportunity.

Over the next few months, I’ll be exploring ways to meld our work in GIS, crime analysis, and digital humanities through Azavea’s R&D program.