Google Glass

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Google Glass
Google Glass logo
Google Glass Explorer Edition.jpeg
Google Glass Explorer Edition
Also known asProject Glass
TypeAugmented reality (AR), Optical head-mounted display (OHMD), Wearable technology, Wearable computer
Release dateDevelopers (US): February 2013 (February 2013)[1]
Consumers: 2014 (2014)[2]
Introductory priceExplorer version: $1500 USD
Consumer edition: "Under $1,500 USD"[3]
Operating systemAndroid[4] (4.0.4[5])
PowerLithium Polymer battery (2.1 Wh)[6]
CPUOMAP 4430 SoC, dual-core[6]
Memory1GB RAM (682MB available to developers)
Storage16 GB Flash total[6] (12 GB of usable memory)[7]
DisplayPrism projector, 640×360 pixels (equivalent of a 25 in/64 cm screen from 8 ft/2.4 m away[7])
SoundBone conduction transducer[7]
InputVoice command through microphone,[7] accelerometer,[7] gyroscope,[7] magnetometer,[7] ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Controller inputTouchpad, MyGlass phone app
CameraPhotos - 5 MP, videos - 720p[7]
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11b/g,[7] Bluetooth,[7] micro USB
Any Bluetooth-capable phone; MyGlass companion app requires Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher or any iOS 7.0 or higher [7]
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Google Glass
Google Glass logo
Google Glass Explorer Edition.jpeg
Google Glass Explorer Edition
Also known asProject Glass
TypeAugmented reality (AR), Optical head-mounted display (OHMD), Wearable technology, Wearable computer
Release dateDevelopers (US): February 2013 (February 2013)[1]
Consumers: 2014 (2014)[2]
Introductory priceExplorer version: $1500 USD
Consumer edition: "Under $1,500 USD"[3]
Operating systemAndroid[4] (4.0.4[5])
PowerLithium Polymer battery (2.1 Wh)[6]
CPUOMAP 4430 SoC, dual-core[6]
Memory1GB RAM (682MB available to developers)
Storage16 GB Flash total[6] (12 GB of usable memory)[7]
DisplayPrism projector, 640×360 pixels (equivalent of a 25 in/64 cm screen from 8 ft/2.4 m away[7])
SoundBone conduction transducer[7]
InputVoice command through microphone,[7] accelerometer,[7] gyroscope,[7] magnetometer,[7] ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Controller inputTouchpad, MyGlass phone app
CameraPhotos - 5 MP, videos - 720p[7]
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11b/g,[7] Bluetooth,[7] micro USB
Any Bluetooth-capable phone; MyGlass companion app requires Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher or any iOS 7.0 or higher [7]

Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) that is being developed by Google in the Project Glass research and development project,[8] with a mission of producing a mass-market ubiquitous computer.[1] Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format,[9] that can communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands.[10][11]

While the frames do not currently have lenses fitted to them, Google is considering partnerships with sunglass retailers such as Ray-Ban or Warby Parker, and may also open retail stores to allow customers to try on the device.[1] The Explorer Edition cannot be used by people who wear prescription glasses, but Google has confirmed that Glass will eventually work with frames and lenses that match the wearer's prescription; the glasses will be modular and therefore possibly attachable to normal prescription glasses.[12] On 26 Jan 2014, Google announced that they were adding four prescription frame choices for about $225.00 U.S. It is necessary to remove a small screw in order to move the Google Glass from one frame to another.

Glass is being developed by Google X,[13] which has worked on other futuristic technologies such as driverless cars. The project was announced on Google+ by Project Glass lead Babak Parviz, an electrical engineer who has also worked on putting displays into contact lenses; Steve Lee, a product manager and "geolocation specialist"; and Sebastian Thrun, who developed Udacity as well as worked on the autonomous car project.[14] Google has patented the design of Project Glass.[15][16] Thad Starner, an augmented reality expert, is a technical lead/manager on the project.[17]


Google Glass (2013) and Mann's Digital Eye Glass[18] (1980) on exhibit at the "History of AR Vision" exhibit at the 2013 Augmented World Expo. Both are shown recording video with each device lit up accordingly.

Although head-worn displays for augmented reality are not a new idea, the project has drawn media attention[19] primarily due to its backing by Google, as well as the prototype design, which is smaller and slimmer than previous designs for head-mounted displays.[20] The first Glass demo resembles a pair of normal eyeglasses where the lens is replaced by a head-up display.[21] Around August 2011, a Glass prototype weighed 8 pounds (3,600 g); the device is now lighter than the average pair of sunglasses.[1] In the future, new designs may allow integration of the display into people's normal eyewear.[11][22]

According to several Google employees, the Glass was initially projected to be available to the public for "around the cost of current smartphones" by the end of 2012,[23] but other reports stated that the Glass was not expected to be available for purchase by then.[24][25][26]

The Explorer Edition is available to testers and Google I/O developers in the United States for $1,500, starting in April 2013,[27] while a consumer version will be available in 2014 for "significantly less" than the Explorer Edition. On July 2, 2013, Google launched an informational press site for Glass, which stated that the company's goal "is to make Glass available to a wider group of Explorers later this year, with even broader availability next year."[2] Originally, Google stated in a Google+ post that consumers can expect Glass to launch sometime in 2013,[12] which was then brought into question when Eric Schmidt said in an April 2013 interview with BBC Radio 4's The World at One, that Google Glass is "probably a year-ish away."[3][28][29][30]

A Glass prototype seen at Google I/O in June 2012

The product began testing in April 2012.[31] Sergey Brin wore a prototype of the Glass to an April 5, 2012, Foundation Fighting Blindness event in San Francisco.[32][33] In May 2012, Glass was demonstrated in the first test video shot with the eyewear, demonstrating the 720p HD first-person video recording capabilities of the device.[34] Sergey Brin demonstrated the Glass on The Gavin Newsom Show where California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom also wore the Glass.[35] On June 27, 2012, he also demonstrated the Glass at Google I/O where skydivers, abseilers, and mountain bikers wore the Glass and live streamed their point of view to a Google+ Hangout, which was also shown live at the Google I/O presentation.[36] In February 2013, Google released a demo video showcasing the voice-augmented display of the Glass filming various experiences in first-person.[37][38]

On June 20, 2013, Rafael J. Grossmann, MD, FACS, a Venezuelan surgeon practicing in the USA, was the first surgeon to ever demonstrate the use of Google Glass during a live surgical procedure.[39][40]

On June 21, 2013, the Spanish doctor Pedro Guillen, Chief of Trauma Service of Clínica CEMTRO of Madrid, also broadcast a surgery through the use of Google Glass. Thanks to the Spanish company Droiders, rights holder of this system in Spain, a chondrocyte implantation in the knee of a patient who was 49 years old, could be streamed worldwide over the internet, allowing another physician, Dr. Homero Rivas (Director of Innovative Surgery, School of Medicine, Stanford University, California), an expert in telemedicine, to participate in the surgery.

Since early 2013, Google has been working on models that can be used with prescription lenses. The new models were to be available to testers before the end of 2013.[2]

Random members of the UK public were approached with the Glass product in late June 2013 and provided feedback while using the device. Users tested various functions of the new technology, including voice recognition, image-taking, and the search engine, and the footage shown by the Guardian publication conveyed only successful attempts. Glass will be sold on the UK retail market in early 2014.[41]

In October 2013, speculation emerged that Glass will be marketed in stores located on floating barges that will be towed from city to city.[42]

Glass Explorer program[edit]

The Glass Explorer program is an early adopter program available for developers and consumers to test Google Glass, and gauge how people will want to use it. Entry into the Explorer program was made available to the general public on February 20, 2013, and ended on February 27, 2013. The program's promotional material stated that "bold, creative individuals" who wanted to test the device were being sought out. Applicants were required to post a message—of 50 words or less—on Google+ or Twitter with the hashtag "#ifihadglass" featured. Successful applicants were required to attend a Google Glass event in either New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles to pick up the developer version for US$1,500.[1]

The Explorer Edition receives data through Wi-Fi, or it can tether via Bluetooth to share data connection. The Glass does not have built-in GPS or SMS messaging, but can access these services through Bluetooth connection to Android devices. The Glass also supports Bluetooth headset profiles for use in making & receiving voice calls.[43]

Users issue voice commands by first saying "ok glass", followed by the command, or they can scroll through the options using a finger along the side of the device. The Explorer Edition also features an interchangeable sunglasses accessory that twists on or off. Monthly updates to the Glass are planned after the program starts.[44]

On April 16, 2013, Google announced that production was complete for the initial Glass Explorer Edition units and the corporation would begin shipping.[45] On the same day, Google also released a web-based setup page for Glass,[46] as well as the MyGlass companion app.[47] Developers were also given first access to the Mirror API for Glass.[48]

Following the XE7 update to the Glass Explorer Edition in early July 2013, evidence of music and video players, in addition to the device's volume control, was noted.[49] As of 27 August 2013 (2013-08-27), 10,000 people were selected as part of a contest to test the early version of the device.[50]


A man controls Google Glass using the touchpad built into the side of the device


A touchpad is located on the side of Google Glass, allowing users to control the device by swiping through a timeline-like interface displayed on the screen.[51] Sliding backward shows current events, such as weather, and sliding forward shows past events, such as phone calls, photos, circle updates, etc.


Google Glass has the ability to take photos and record 720p HD video. While video is recording, the screen stays on.

The Explorer's LCoS display optics use a PBS, a partially reflecting mirror beam splitter, and an astigmatism correcting, collimating reflector formed on the nose end of the optical assembly.[52][53]


The Explorer version of Google Glass uses a Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS), field-sequential color, LED illuminated display.[54]

The display's LED illumination is first P-polarized and then shines through the in-coupling polarizing beam splitter (PBS) to the LCoS panel. The panel reflects the light and alters it to S-polarization at active pixel sites. The in-coupling PBS then reflects the S-polarized areas of light at 45° through the out-coupling beam splitter to a collimating reflector at the other end. Finally, the out-coupling beam splitter reflects the collimated light another 45° and into the wearer's eye.[52][53]

Technical specifications[edit]

For the developer Explorer units:



Google Glass applications are free applications built by third-party developers. Glass also uses many existing Google applications, such as Google Now, Google Maps, Google+, and Gmail.

Third-party applications announced at South by Southwest (SXSW) include Evernote, Skitch, The New York Times, and Path.[57]

On April 15, 2013, Google released the Mirror API, allowing developers to start making apps for Glass.[58][59] In the terms of service, it is stated that developers may not put ads in their apps or charge fees;[60] a Google representative told The Verge that this might change in the future.[61]

Many developers and companies have built applications for Glass, including news apps, facial recognition, exercise, photo manipulation, translation, and sharing to social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.[62][63][64]

On May 16, 2013, Google announced the release of seven new apps, including reminders from Evernote, fashion news from Elle, and news alerts from CNN.[65] Following Google's XE7 Glass Explorer Edition update in early July 2013, evidence of a "Glass Boutique", a store that will allow synchronization to Glass of Glassware and APKs, was noted.[49]

Version XE8 made a debut for Google Glass on August 12, 2013. It brings an integrated video player with playback controls, the ability to post an update to Path, and lets users save notes to Evernote. Several other minute improvements include volume controls, improved voice recognition, and several new Google Now cards.

On November 19, 2013, Google unveiled its Glass Development Kit, showcasing a translation app Word Lens, a cooking app AllTheCooks, and an exercise app Strava among others as successful examples.[66][67]


Google offers a companion Android and iOS app called MyGlass, which allows you to configure and manage your device.[68]

Voice activation[edit]

Other than the touchpad, Google Glass can be controlled using "voice actions". To activate Glass, wearers tilt their heads 30° upward (which can be altered for preference) or tap the touchpad, and say "O.K., Glass." Once Glass is activated, wearers can say an action, such as "Take a picture", "Record a video", "Hangout with [person/Google+ circle]", "Google 'What year was Wikipedia founded?'", "Give me directions to the Eiffel Tower", and "Send a message to John"[69] (many of these commands can be seen in a product video released in February 2013).[38] For search results that are read back to the user, the voice response is relayed using bone conduction through a transducer that sits beside the ear, thereby rendering the sound almost inaudible to other people.[70]


Critical reception[edit]

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy using Google Glass at a meeting of his party

In November 2012, Glass received recognition by Time Magazine as one of the "Best Inventions of the Year 2012", alongside inventions such as the Curiosity Rover.[71]

After a visit to the University of Cambridge by Google's chairman Eric Schmidt in February 2013, Wolfson College professor[72] John Naughton praised the Glass and compared it with the achievements of hardware and networking pioneer Douglas Engelbart. Naughton wrote that Engelbart believed that machines "should do what machines do best, thereby freeing up humans to do what they do best".[73]

Lisa A. Goldstein, a freelance journalist who was born profoundly deaf, tested the product on behalf of people with disabilities and published a review on August 6, 2013. In her review, Goldstein states that Google Glass does not accommodate hearing aids and is not suitable for people who cannot understand speech. Goldstein also explained the limited options for customer support, as telephone contact was her only means of communication.[74]

In December 2013, David Datuna became the first artist to incorporate Google Glass into a contemporary work of art.[75][76] The artwork debuted at a private event at The New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida, US and was moved to the Miami Design District for the public debut.[77] Over 1500 people used Google Glass to experience Datuna's American flag from his "Viewpoint of Billions" series.[78]

Privacy concerns[edit]

Steve Mann, inventor of EyeTap, wearing several developments of his device which has been compared with Google Glass[79]

The eyewear's functionality and minimalist appearance have been compared to Steve Mann's EyeTap,[79] also known as "Glass" or "Digital Eye Glass", although Google Glass is a "Generation-1 Glass" compared to EyeTap, which is a "Generation-4 Glass".[80] According to Mann, both devices affect both privacy and secrecy by introducing a two-sided surveillance and sousveillance.[81]

Concerns have been raised by various sources regarding the intrusion of privacy, and the etiquette and ethics of using the device in public and recording people without their permission,[82][83][84] even though many artists practicing street photography or life reportage, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, have made history[peacock term] taking pictures of people in public without their consent or knowledge[citation needed], and today there are web services such as Google Street View doing the same on a massive scale[citation needed]. There is controversy that Google Glass would violate privacy rights due to security problems and others.[85][86][87]

Privacy advocates are concerned that people wearing such eyewear may be able to identify strangers in public using facial recognition, or surreptitiously record and broadcast private conversations.[1] Some companies in the U.S. have posted anti-Google Glass signs in their establishments.[88][89] In July 2013, prior to the official release of the product, Stephen Balaban, co-founder of software company Lambda Labs, circumvented Google’s facial recognition app block by building his own, non-Google-approved operating system. Balaban then installed face-scanning Glassware that creates a summary of commonalities shared by the scanned person and the Glass wearer, such as mutual friends and interests.[90] Additionally, Michael DiGiovanni created Winky, a program that allows a Google Glass user to take a photo with a wink of an eye, while Marc Rogers, a principal security researcher at Lookout, discovered that Glass can be hijacked if a user could be tricked into taking a picture of a malicious QR code.[91]

Other concerns have been raised regarding legality of the Glass in a number of countries, particularly in Russia, Ukraine, and other post-USSR countries. In February 2013, a Google+ user noticed legal issues with Glass and posted in the Glass Explorers community about the issues, stating that the device may be illegal to use according to the current legislation in Russia and Ukraine, which prohibits use of spy gadgets that can record video, audio or take photographs in an inconspicuous manner.[92]

Concerns were also raised in regard to the privacy and security of Glass users in the event that the device is stolen or lost, an issue that was raised by a US congressional committee. As part of its response to the governmental committee, Google stated in early July that is working on a locking system and raised awareness of the ability of users to remotely reset Glass from the web interface in the event of loss.[49]

Several facilities have banned the use of Google Glass before its release to the general public, citing concerns over potential privacy-violating capabilities. Other facilities, such as Las Vegas casinos, banned Google Glass, citing their desire to comply with Nevada state law and common gaming regulations which ban the use of recording devices near gambling areas.[93]

Safety considerations[edit]

Concerns have also been raised on operating motor vehicles while wearing the device. On 31 July 2013 it was reported that driving while wearing Google Glass is likely to be banned in the UK, being deemed careless driving, therefore a fixed penalty offense, following a decision by the Department for Transport.[94]

In the US, West Virginia state representative Gary G. Howell introduced an amendment in March 2013 to the state's law against texting while driving that would include bans against "using a wearable computer with head mounted display." In an interview, Howell stated, "The primary thing is a safety concern, it [the glass headset] could project text or video into your field of vision. I think there's a lot of potential for distraction."[95]

In October 2013, a driver in California was ticketed for "driving with monitor visible to driver (Google Glass)" after being pulled over for speeding by a San Diego Police Department officer. The driver was reportedly the first to be ticketed for driving while wearing a Google Glass.[96] While the judge noted that 'Google Glass fell under "the purview and intent" of the ban on driving with a monitor', the case was thrown out of court due to lack of proof the device was on at the time.[97]

In November 2013, a Canadian company, Vandrico, released a study that highlighted the fact that the bone conduction transducer's audibility is improved while wearing foam ear plugs, which could encourage workers to wear hearing protection in loud work environments.[98]

Terms of service[edit]

Under the Google Glass terms of service for the Glass Explorer pre-public release program, it specifically states, "you may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person. If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google's authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty." Wired commented on this policy of a company claiming ownership of its product after it had been sold, saying: "Welcome to the New World, one in which companies are retaining control of their products even after consumers purchase them."[99] Others pointed out that Glass was not for public sale at all, but rather in private testing for selected developers, and that not allowing developers in a closed beta to sell to the public is not the same as banning consumers from reselling a publicly released device.[100]

Healthcare applications[edit]

Several proof of concepts for Google Glass have been proposed in healthcare:

In July 2013, Lucien Engelen commenced research on the usability and impact of Google Glass in the health care field. As of August 2013, Engelen, who is based at Singularity University and in Europe at Radboud University Medical Center,[101] is the first healthcare professional in Europe to participate in the Glass Explorer program.[102] His research on Google Glass (starting August 9, 2013) was conducted in operating rooms, ambulances, a trauma helicopter, general practice, and home care as well as the use in public transportation for visually or physically impaired. Research contained making pictures, videos streaming to other locations dictating operative log, having students watch the procedures and tele-consultation through Hangout. Engelen documented his findings in blogs,[103] videos,[104] pictures, on Twitter,[105] and on Google+.[106] and is still ongoing.

Key findings of his research included:

  1. The quality of pictures and video are usable for healthcare education, reference, and remote consultation.The camera needs to be tilted to different angle[107] for most of the operative procedures
  2. Tele-consultation is possible—depending on the available bandwidth—during operative procedures.[108]
  3. A stabilizer should be added to the video function to prevent choppy transmission when a surgeon looks to screens or colleagues.
  4. Battery life can be easily extended with the use of an external battery.
  5. Controlling the device and/or programs from another device is needed for some features because of sterile environment.
  6. Text-to-speech ("Take a Note" to Evernote) exhibited a correction rate of 60 percent, without the addition of a medical thesaurus.
  7. A protocol or checklist displayed on the screen of Glass can be helpful during procedures.[citation needed]

Dr. Phil Haslam and Dr. Sebastian Mafeld demonstrated the first concepts for Google Glass in the field of interventional radiology. They demonstrated the manner in which the concept of Google Glass could assist a liver biopsy and fistulaplasty, and the pair stated that Google Glass has the potential to improve patient safety, operator comfort, and procedure efficiency in the field of interventional radiology.[109]

In June 2013, surgeon Dr. Rafael Grossmann was the first person to integrate Google Glass into the operating theater, when he wore the device during a PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) procedure.[110] In August 2013, Google Glass was also used at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University. Surgeon Dr. Christopher Kaeding used Google Glass to consult with a colleague in a distant part of Columbus, Ohio. A group of students at The Ohio State University College of Medicine also observed the operation on their laptop computers. Following the procedure, Kaeding stated, "To be honest, once we got into the surgery, I often forgot the device was there. It just seemed very intuitive and fit seamlessly."[111]

In January 2014, Indian Orthopedic Surgeon Selene G. Parekh conducted the foot and ankle surgery using Google Glass in Jaipur, which was broadcast live on Google website via the internet. The surgery was held during a three day annual Indo-US conference attended by a team of experts from the US, and co-organized by Dr Ashish Sharma. Sharma said Google Glass allows looking at an X-Ray or MRI without taking the eye off of the patient, and allows a doctor to communicate with a patient's family or friends during a procedure. "The image which the doctor sees through Google Glass will be broadcast on the internet. It's an amazing technology. Earlier, during surgeries, to show something to another doctor, we had to keep moving and the cameraman had to move as well to take different angles. During this, there are chances of infection. So in this technology, the image seen by the doctor using Google Glass will be seen by everyone throughout the world," he said.[citation needed]

In Australia, during January 2014, Melbourne tech startup Small World Social collaborated with the Australian Breastfeeding Association to create the first hands-free breastfeeding guidance application for new mothers. The application, named Breastfeeding #ThroughGlass allows mothers to nurse their baby while viewing instructions about common breastfeeding issues (latching on, posture etc.) or call a lactation consultant via a secure Google Hangout, who can view the issue through the mother's Google Glass camera. The product is currently being beta trialled in Melbourne. [112]

See also[edit]

Projects using Google Glass[edit]


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