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July 25, 2013

Google Tests Wearable Computer

by George Putic

The Internet giant Google is testing its newest gadget, Google Glass, which the company describes as a wearable computer that may revolutionize how we interact with each other and with the world. 

Most of the Google Glass technology is already incorporated in smart phones.  But Google researchers thought of using it in an unprecedented way.

"Google Glass is a tiny computer that sits in a lightweight frame, just like this, and rests neatly above your eye and it makes exploring and sharing the world around you a lot easier," explained Chris Dale, Senior Manager of Communications for Google Glass.

The frame has a tiny video screen and a camera that connect wirelessly to the Internet through a smartphone.

But what can you actually DO with Google Glass?

"That's the million-dollar question, I guess," Dale said.

Unsure about how Google Glass could or would be used, or how people would react to it, Google decided to enlist volunteers to test the new device. The goal was twofold -- see what innovative ways people would come up with to use it, and to attract developers to create new apps.

"We look at Glass and wearable computing in general as the next platform in computing," said Dale.

Dale says an average person uses a smartphone 150 times a day and Google Glass makes that technology available more quickly because it can respond to voice commands.

The device is turned on by tapping one side of the frame. When you say "Okay Glass" the screen shows a range of options, including search the web, take a picture, take video, send a message, and search for directions. Swiping the frame with a finger scrolls the menu up and down.

Google Glass transmits sound through vibration against the head. It has a medium-resolution camera -- about five megapixels -- and the projected image is like watching an iPhone screen.

Seth Rosenblatt, senior writer for Cnet News, says while it's interesting to be able to do Internet-related tasks with nothing in your hand, wearing the device in public attracts a lot of attention.

"They've done something very interesting with technology, but in terms of social interactions they've got a very long way ahead of them," he said.

Rosenblatt says its real potential will be tested by the public.

"I think the real test for Google Glass is going to be out on the street," he said. "How are average people going to react when they're forced to interact with somebody wearing Google Glass?"

Google says it is still testing the wearable computer, which runs on Google's Android operating system, and is expected to be available by early next year.