On Google Glass

Though it isn’t quite ready for the big time, Glass still has game-changing potential.

Periodically, we like to share insights from the heart of Real Art. Straight from the source, these “wiretaps” feature experts in the Real Art tribe, offering an inside look at the personalities and passions flowing through our home and pervading our work. In this piece, Real Art’s Lead Software Engineer Dustin Clinard discusses the limitations and potential of Google Glass from a developer’s perspective.

Glass was made for augmented reality.

Augmented reality will be big eventually. Glass is equipped with a 3-axis gyroscope, a 3-axis magnetometer, and can receive GPS coordinates from the MyGlass companion app. With these it can figure out the exact angle of the wearer’s viewpoint from a particular spot. So it’ll know your exact view of a location and then bring up information or images about it.

Glass will be great for networking.

Face detection will be another big thing. Eventually, my Glass will be able to take a snapshot of who I’m looking at and immediately tap into Facebook to identify the person and pull up their profile. Everyone hates forgetting people’s names or getting stuck in that awkward part of the conversation where there’s nothing to say. Glass could bring up talking points like their interests or job title. Facial recognition is really too slow right now to work seamlessly in this use case but once the technology improves, Glass will just send the server static images for processing and get back all of this information.

In future, Glass will just get tethered to our phones.

For developers to really leverage Glass they will have to find a way to unload processor-expensive operations to a stronger CPU. Luckily, we all have one of those in our pocket. One real possibility for upcoming Glass Developer Kits would be to build the functionality of remote method calls directly into the framework in a very similar way to the Pebble watch. In other words, Glass would send some data to a companion app on your phone, your phone would do all the heavy lifting, and then it would send back the necessary info for Glass to display. This would allow Glass to provide a very small, unique display but also leverage the power of a much larger device and the services and sensors built in to it.

Privacy will always be a major issue.

Are people always going to walk around with a camera pointed at whomever they’re talking with? That’s an awkward way of hanging out, never knowing what the other person is recording or looking at. Introducing this device at that level of human interaction is going make for some bizarre situations. Maybe if Glass becomes a tiny chip that you can clip onto the glasses you already have and no one knows you’re wearing it, then, it might work. But now, people see someone wearing Glass and they’re creeped and they walk away. Sure, Google included an indicator LED to show when it’s recording. But as with any operating system, hackers will find a way to turn it off. So people are still left constantly wondering.

Glass isn’t powerful enough yet.

The main concern from a developer’s standpoint is that Glass has to get more powerful. Android is the perfect platform for it, no qualms there. But right now Glass is still too laggy and battery-killing to process anything really cool. The technology will get there eventually. Once Glass gets to the point where its size is less noticeable and it is powerful enough, then it will be something that everybody wears. But even then, I don’t see it working at the same level as watch-like connected devices. Those wearables will take off without a hitch. Nearly everyone already wears a watch. Not everyone wears glasses or wants to wear glasses.

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