Google Glass through the looking glass - what you need to know

Glass is Google’s internet-connected digital eyewear - and here´s the lowdown on it

28 Mar 2013


Since Sergey Brin was seen casually riding the New York subway sporting the device, Google's Glass digital eyewear has hardly been out of the headlines.

Google Glass

From excited commentators breathlessly declaring it the future of wearable technology to campaign groups warning over potential implications on our privacy, Glass has been racking up more column inches than the cast of TOWIE.

Last month, Google invited US residents to tweet how they'd use Glass and has now picked 8,000 people to test out a prototype.

We all saw the photos of Sergey on the train wearing what looked like a futuristic pair of wrap-around shades. Sure, we may have joked with a colleague about him auditioning for a part in Universal Soldier, but do we really know what Glass is or even what it does?

With thousands set to put the far-out headgear through its paces and a launch date mooted for late this year or early 2014, it's as good a time as any to get up close and personal with Glass.

What is Google Glass?

Glass is Google's internet-connected digital eyewear. It looks like a futuristic pair of specs, only once you pop on Glass you'll realise it does a bit more than your average bifocals.

Glass features a tiny prism which sits just above your eye line; information on the display can be seen by glancing up.

The device is packed with a camera, processor and head-tracking orientation sensors.

This may not carry much kudos at first glance, but basically it means Glass knows where you are, is hooked up to the internet and can be used to take photos and shoot video - pretty neat once you get used to looking like you've stepped off the set of a John-Claude Van Damme flick from the Nineties.

What it does - strike a pose

The camera function is great for capturing those moments that are over before they begin; where there's no time to get your phone out of your pocket.

Google's website shows a child photographed as they're spun round in the air, but it'd also be great for capturing your partner's reaction as you got down on bended knee and tried to make an honest woman of her.

'Big deal,' you say, 'it still takes time to press the button'.

And a valid point you'd be making - if it had a button, that is.

Ask Glass to do something and it does it thanks to voice recognition technology. Google's How It Feels video shows a wearer merely asking 'OK Glass, take a photo' and it does. It's more obedient than a family pet.

What it does - lights, camera, action

This is also the case when you want to record a video.

Think of the times you've wanted to capture an experience via video but haven't been able too. Google shows someone recording a rollercoaster ride and having a dance, but it'd also be good for climbing a mountain, or recording a gig while you're playing guitar or bashing away at the drums.

Like we're playing gigs and scaling Everest every day - who are we trying to kid?

Luckily Glass could be just as much fun for recording you kicking ass on a video game, chucking M&Ms at the cat or doing the housework - guys, we are just too wild.

Share and share alike

These days it's all about devices and software that work together better than Lennon and McCartney. Glass is completely down with that vibe - interacting with Google+ to help you share your content effortlessly.

Say you stalked a celeb on the high street and cajoled them into giving you a high-five. The priceless snap of your palms smashing together can then be sent to your Google+ pals by merely saying 'send picture to'... and their name.

Hanging around - video calling and Google Hangouts

We all like hanging out with our crew, and that tiny prism we mentioned earlier means we can see our boys right in front of our eyes - in fact, it may be a bit close for comfort for some.

And if you're not too keen on being the star of your own Google Hangouts video chats you can use Glass to show the person you're chatting to what you're seeing; give them a running commentary on a gig or on your kid's football match.

Glass really is going somewhere

But Glass isn't all about taking snaps and chatting. It knows we have to work and has plenty of features to make that easier.

Going to a meeting at an address you don't know? Use Google Glass' GPS and Maps to get you there. Want to know what the weather will be like later on so you know whether to take a jacket to work? Think of Glass as a personal but slightly less charming Michael Fish sitting just above your eye line. Need to write an email while walking to a meeting? Just dictate it and Glass does the rest. Need to translate items on a menu during an overseas business trip? You get the picture...

Real revolution

So there we have it, an idiot's guide to Google Glass. Obviously we haven't covered everything. Our fingers are getting pretty tired typing so your eyes have probably had enough of reading. Nevertheless, we've given you enough suss to be a relative expert when the pub chat turns to them 'weird Google specs'.

Revolutionary is a word often overused in tech writing, but here it truly is a perfect fit, for Glass has the potential to change our lives - as well as making us all look like extras from Demolition Man.