Google Glass Review

I had an amazing opportunity to try out Google Glass at the GirlsInTechMinneapolis event at the Local in Downtown Minneapolis on August 1st, 2013.  Unfortunately, I did not get to spend more than a few minutes with it as there were many individuals that attended (a great win for women in Tech though!) 

me wearing Google glass

If you haven’t heard of Google Glass before, it’s basically a computing device projected onto a clear glass lens that is positioned in front your eyes much like a regular pair of glasses.  The view appears as a semi-transparent picture in picture over your regular line of sight. The main applications seem to be oriented towards information retrieval such as accessing weather, social media feeds, and Google searches. 

Physically, the device is fairly conspicuous.  It looks about the size of a regular pair of glasses.  Google Glass comes in an array of colors; this one was bright orange. The major visual oddity is that the right side contains the actual device, but there is no glass lens on the left side. The device on the right side spans from the lens to the ear and is about the same height as the side arm on a pair of large sunglasses such as Ray Ban’s.  It was slightly warm to the touch and several people complained after a while it became too hot.  The touch pad is located directly above the right temple and although it feels a little awkward at first, I acclimated.  The sweeping motion for gestures needed to be a little stronger than on my iPhone and I spent most of my time trying to figure out the correct amount of pressure to apply to get it to work.  The frame construction is a little flimsy and the device kept bouncing when I moved my head or went to perform a gesture.  Also, although manageable while wearing it, the lopsidedness made me feel as though I was going to drop it when removing it.  In addition, the battery life was rather limited.  It spent about half the evening on the charger.

Visually, the display was not as clear as I had hoped.  After seeing several videos of the device, I was expecting the picture in picture semi-transparent feel, but I had trouble reading text on the screen (and I have 20/20 vision).  Paired with the frequent bobbing of the frames, this made the experience less than ideal.  I can understand how several of the participants complained of dizziness.   If there is a configuration to make the image sharper that would make it much better, but unfortunately the battery was going dead and I didn’t get a chance to try.  The interface itself was very nice though and the transitions smooth.  The screen response time was actually quite impressive.

Although the crowd and room were mostly to blame, the device also had trouble with voice commands.  It was only able to pick up the take a picture command and when I tried to do a basic Google search, it pulled up a completely unrelated news article.  The event organizer was having much better luck with it and was able to pull up weather, twitter, a photo reel, and other niceties once we quieted.  The best and easiest feature to figure out by far was the camera.  The device responded rather quickly and could distinguish this request even in the loud environment.  On viewing, the photo quality was quite impressive for such a small device.

In conclusion, Google glass doesn’t have the full capabilities of a Smartphone or tablet so it’s not a replacement for other devices, but it does make for a neat accessory.  I am interested to see what Google does for its next release and if the price point makes it a little more accessible.

Thank you to GirlsInTechMinneapolis for hosting this event and fundraising for the Google Glass.  The purchase of Google Glass and the event was funded via Indiegogo to support women in technology particularly middle and high school outreach programs.

GitMsp organizer Kate demoing the Google Glass at the event August 1st (photo via twitter)

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