Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Google Glass Review

Google Glass
By Ben Barton '14

Bell Ringer Features Editor

Since its inception about 15 years ago, Google’s mission statement has always been “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” In a famous interview, Eric Shmidt, Google’s president, concluded that after much study, it would take Google approximately 300 years to collect all the information in the world. Google has taken a colossal step towards its mission with the creation of Google Glass.

MBA has recently acquired two pairs of Google Glass. “We saw a great opportunity for students and teachers to experiment with this new technology,” commented Elijah Reynolds, the master and keeper of these devices. “A few teachers have already used Glass to create content for their classes. We also want to use them for virtual campus tours and other marketing purposes.”

MBA applied for the devices through the Google Glass Explorer program and paid $1,500 for each pair. The Glass will eventually be available for checkout, though no process has been decided upon at this time.

I was given the opportunity to try a pair out for the purpose of writing this article, and was extremely impressed. The design and interface is fairly confusing at first and does take some getting used to. The Glass has very few physical “buttons,” only an “on” button and a button that takes a picture. In addition, the side of one of the temples of Glass doubles as a scroller, which one uses like a mouse pad, and and a button where one taps to select. This method and voice recognition are the two main ways one navigates Glass. Glass comes with an earbud extension, and attachable Robocop-esq shades to cover one’s eyes, if the user so chooses.

When I went to turn on glass, the word “GLASS” appeared in front of my right eye for approximately ten seconds. To activate the glasses, you say “OK Glass,” and this brings you to Glass’ main menu, which contains the following options: Google, take a picture, record a video, get directions, message, call, video call, listen and show compass.

I went on to experiment with a couple of these features. The Google feature blew me away. Glass requests a question in its Google feature, so I simply asked, “OK, Glass, what is Montgomery Bell Academy?” After a few seconds, my vision was inundated with a cover flow of pictures of MBA, information about MBA from various linked websites, and its location on a map. I then asked, “OK, Glass, how do I make a sandwich?” I was presented a list of sandwich recipes and cookbooks to navigate, in addition to a few videos of, you guessed it, people making sandwiches. The voice recognition got every word.

The camera function was also fun to play around with. There are three ways to take a picture or video: to say “OK, Glass, take a picture,” to use the camera button, or my personal favorite, to blink slowly, which also causes Glass to take a picture. Videos had the same interface. Through the message function, I could dictate messages to send to contacts. I could also get directions using Glass, which puts the user in what is practically a world turned into an interactive Google Maps.

Still, Google Glass is not yet perfected. Operating system functions are difficult at times. Pictures and video may not be to the quality of higher end cell phones that users already use. In addition, the GPS navigation can be a little slow.

To counter these imperfections, though, Google Glass has the benefit of being a software-intensive device. Google took a page out of Apple’s 2007 playbook by creating a device with few physical buttons, allowing them to have an enormous amount of possibilities for expansion through upgrades.

Google has already proved time and time again that it is one of the most innovative companies in the world, so I expect extremely impressive things to come for Google Glass. Google Glass has the potential to be a curious, multi-tasking student’s best friend.