How Google Glass will change mobile, and how it could fail

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
How Google Glass will change mobile, and how it could fail
How often do we hear jokes about how no one experiences life as it happens these days? People miss out on life because we’re all too busy filtering real-time experiences through the screen of a smartphone or tablet. Google may not have figured out the use case of Google Glass, but after seeing Sergey Brin on the subway, and digging through old Glass stories, it struck us as quite simple: rather than filtering real-life through a screen, the screen mimics our eye and sees what we see, without our attention.

This is the beauty of invention. The company freely admits that it doesn’t quite know how to market the product; the tech elite don’t quite know either; and, common people are a bit unnerved by the technology. But, the geeks are excited, because we can simply feel the potential, and the disruptive force that comes with something new.

The true POV camera

Really, it’s the strength that Microsoft has always claimed with Windows Phone, that it would get you “in and out and back to life”. But, with Google Glass, there theoretically is no more “in and out”. Taken to its logical conclusion, Google Glass (and all subsequent systems like it) would aim to take our digital world and make it part of a HUD for real life. So, rather than having to take time to look at your phone (maybe stop walking, certainly while not driving,) and be completely distracted from whatever you are doing.

Take a look back at all of the video we’ve seen from Google Glass. For the most part, the pictures may not seem to be anything special at first glance, but the longer you look, the more you see. The camera can capture something much more intimate than anything we’ve seen before. Handheld photography can only get so close, and all “POV” videography feels clunky and off, because there is only so much a handheld camera can mimic the movement of our head. Even a camera strapped to your forehead isn’t quite right, because the perspective is slightly off compared to what we would really see. 

But, then you see the video that Sergey Brin and the Glass team took while skydiving, and even though the camera is a bit jerky, it still feels somehow natural. Only the best camera operator can approximate what we would see when moving our heads side to side, but Google Glass seems to be able to simply because the Glass camera has no choice but to follow our heads, and capture the same perspective that we see with our eyes. 

The key to success

The photography and videography that we see coming from Google Glass users will be the killer feature, but the make-or-break function for commercial success (assuming the cost comes down fast) will be the UI. We still haven’t seen what the UI will be, or how to interact with the Glass, aside from voice commands.

Google has been learning the keys of design faster than most companies around, especially since hiring Andy Hertzfeld and Matias Duarte, but the UI design for Google Glass is an entirely new undertaking. This isn’t as simple as giving all Google web products a unified design, or making Android prettier and smoother. With Google Glass, the design team has to straddle the line between giving enough information without being too distracting.

We assume that the key to this will be Android’s Talkback feature, which has been designed to aid users with visual impairments. The key would be to mix the best of Talkback, while removing the bits that can drive someone without visual troubles mad (like the explore-by-touch, which reads out everything on screen to aid with navigation). So, we’d expect to see e-mails and messages read, but not displayed, and directions given turn-by-turn, but no map without user prompt (and definitely no map if the user is driving).


If the price is right, and even if nothing else is all that good with Google Glass (which is hard to imagine, given Google’s track record), photography is going to be seeing another revolution when this product finally hits. It’s hard to imagine Google completely screwing up the Glass UI, but the real key to Google saying that it’s not sure how people will use the product is because that lack of knowledge could mean too many items get transferred from phone to Glass.

The Google Glass UI needs to be minimalist and as distraction-free as possible, but still provide enough information to remove the need to look at a smartphone screen. That’s a pretty tall order, but not an impossible one, and it could make all the difference. We should see more soon enough, as the developer units are expected to start going out during events in NYC and San Francisco next week.



1. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

This is going to be epic. Cant wait what the dev had instore for glass. Im definitely going to buy one

3. pokharkarsaga

Posts: 555; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

The video clarity of Google Glass looks like 808 pureview. Good job Google.

5. Aeires unregistered

What I'd like to see is a zoom feature that portrays the zoomed image directly onto the lens of the glasses. With this you could look at close images in macro or look at distant images zoomed in. Reading impaired? Solved.

7. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

I was thinking the same thing.. "real world instant zoom". THAT would be a huge selling point. Not only for normal people reading and such but also for doctors and nurses to get a good close up of what's going on with you without having to get too close.... or if you can live stream from one Glass to another.. without having to even be in the same room. Imagine 100 doctors all looking at the exact same thing to figure out the problem in real time. (just dont look at the bill!! lol) There are a million ways to play that out.

28. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

Perfect for snipers in the military?

47. AWiseGuy

Posts: 68; Member since: Oct 30, 2012

Use cases that Google hasn't even imagined. Mostly because it seems Google hasn't bothered to imagine *any* use cases. They're just developing a cool piece of hardware and letting the consumer choose how to use it. I see a good future for this product, if only for certain niche uses.

19. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

A lot of potential and a lot of risk. A completely new UI paradigm, but with risks. Some that immediately come to mind are processing power required to deliver the user experience; user distraction (even head-up displays are not free of distraction); how to design the UI so that the user gets just what they need to receive as opposed to wading through menu trees. Only Google has the culture to take on such an endeavor.

41. microsoftnokiawin

Posts: 1268; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

good products cost good money :(

2. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

I wonder if we could watch videos via Google Glass... Can't wait to see more on this project.


Posts: 103; Member since: Aug 09, 2011

I'd love to see whats the full extent of what they can achieve with Google Glass I'll definitely buy one it will be well worth the money if it will be that easy to use and have that many features but a few things trouble me.....1. How would it be packaged? 2.what would the processor be like? 3. how big would the battery be? those are my concerns ....

11. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

1) who cares 2) who cares as long as it works well 3) ok, this one is a biggie. :)

13. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Yea I dont think the processor for something this small would make a huge difference. I dont think its doing as much as a phone or tablet. If they could use watch size batteries...would that even be strong enough or last long enough?

6. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I can see going to it when I wanna take pics....I cant see myself wearing it on a daily basis. I dont think I woulda wanna use GPS with this. Might be too in my face. I like it tho..bring it on.

10. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

it could easily use augmented reality to keep the "arrows" on the road in front of you and not so much "in your face". That tech already exists.

12. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I like that....bring it on!!!! lol.

8. SuperNexus

Posts: 127; Member since: Jan 18, 2013

Love to see some more videos like this.

9. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

I think Glass is going to fundamentally change things if its marketed properly. To the seeing impaired, for medicine, travelers (real time google maps info on places as you walk by), and a million other uses people havent thought of yet. Once the tech can shrink even smaller and make it look like a normal pair of glasses these will catch fire with every day people. Let some fashion designers get ahold of them and make them desirable looking as well as highly functional.

23. HDShatter

Posts: 1021; Member since: Jan 17, 2013

Google Glasses - Watch porn anywhere anytime and not get caught. Instant #1 product for men across the globe.

33. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

what ever. Men everywhere would get caught. A sea of dudes walking down the street with pitched tents would not go over well with indecent exposure laws. lolz. It would be a funny "the next pandemic" segment on the local news shows though. :)

14. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

If any of yall ever seen those movies where it feels like you are in at an Air n Space Museum, the movies they show there? Towards the end of this clip right before they landed....made my stomache

15. duwiegeneral

Posts: 48; Member since: Dec 07, 2012

that stupid google flass r glass r r@@s is for porn freak who wants a better feel of thier fantasy sorrounding. lollll play boy's would do well with a few a them. soon we will ave space guns shooting laser beems so powerful it will b able to disolve titanium steel lolllll crop!!!

20. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I take it 3D is for porn freaks too huh.... :/

16. duwiegeneral

Posts: 48; Member since: Dec 07, 2012


17. nak1017

Posts: 328; Member since: Jan 08, 2010

...? And?

25. MorePhonesThanNeeded

Posts: 645; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

at least we know what he'll be anxiously waiting on it for. This reminds me of Surrogates, when they used that data to jump back into the last hours of that murdered guys memories. Really crazy watching what someone did from their POV, AR gaming could be something that brings rebirth of Laser Tag much closer to those videos of epic laser fights, no bullets or paintballs necessary. Heck it could even augment paintball fights, exercising, school work(like documenting your trip to the museum) catching a sight in the sky you happened to be looking at right at that moment. If this thing is quick and lightweight and has satisfactory space, it would be incredible. Limited use at first but it could blossom into something incredible. I'm all for innovative technology, might help with crimes to, see something suspicious but fear for your life, just look from a distance and place the call with video reference and that's it. Anonymous tip with video sent it, perp apprehended because of a concerned civilian with camera.

30. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

Could use it for that Cheaters show too.

34. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

laser tag would be a fun augment if it could keep up and animate the "laser fire" in real time. Would make for a great light saber duel as well. :) Crime would go down big time if these got mass adoption.. EVERYONE would be wearing cameras to catch the criminal. A program showing you how to do your homework problem right "on your book" would be fantastic as well. Those are some great uses. Good thoughts guy.

36. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

The whole concept could become pretty crazy... Imagine someone using Google Glass the way Batman hacked wireless devices it in the Dark Knight.

27. darac

Posts: 2156; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

If nothing else, this will be remembered as the first personal HUD assistant computer. And one day, IMO, those things will be as big as smartphones are today, and then some. In a truly mature form(say, some 10-15 years from now), I imagine an intelligent supercomputer sporting ultra hd, 3D display with variable transparency ranging from completely transparent, discrete looking, eye protection eyeglasses substitute, to a full filter screen usable for all computing, gaming and media you could need. Somewhere between those two modes, it will mostly serve as a revolutionary augmented reality, video/photographic and communication tool. Advanced technologies will make it light, comfortable, flexible and near indestructible. And it won't need to be charged at all - it's battery will charge constantly via sunlight and body temperature of the carrier.

35. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

HUD assistants have been around for quite some time. Hell, my grandfather's caddy back in the 90s had HUD display for his speed. I never really understood why it hasnt caught on more than it has though. Seemed so useful. Just like touch screen displays which have been around since the 80s. Yea, this tech is the beginning of the next stage of communications with the potential to change things as much as cell phones did.

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