Google Glass - so much potential but still so very far away
A few weeks ago Google officially launched Glass in the UK and to coincide with this they held a 2 day event for people to come and try out Glass. The event was held in Camden in London in a lovely area behind Kings Cross, my initial aim was to go on Friday evening but delays meant I arrived too late and was turned away with several others, thankfully I had time the next day to try again.
I went along with my girlfriend Rosa on Saturday afternoon, there was a small queue outside but not as much as the day before. The events company managing the day had created a very nice space, despite only being there for 2 days they had put some effort into doing it up; they also had people going around with various food items and a stocked fridge, all of which was completely free.
Once we got in the event was very well managed, they divided people into groups and held mini inductions before letting people loose. The induction included how to wear it and set the screen, voice activation and basic navigation, once this was done you returned the device and moved onto one of several areas which had been setup to showcase various apps.
Unfortunately it was at this induction stage where things started to go wrong for me.
The venue was noisy but not that loud and despite this it was close to impossible to get it to recognise any voice commands, the employee helping out with the induction gave me a few techniques including cupping my ear or putting my finger in my ear but this didn't help very much.
The speaker which provides audio queues is a bone conduction speaker so it requires contact with the skull, unfortunately this was the most useless thing of them all, the only time when I could hear anything was if I pressed it hard against my head or fully cupped my ear!
At this stage rather dejected I returned the device and moved onto the first demo space.
The first demo was of a language translation app, you look at a sign in a foreign language and it will translate the text and display an updated image of the item on the screen. This was very impressive, the system doesn't just display the text but it displays the translated text in the same font and style as the original poster.
A large array of posters in a variety of languages were provided to show off this functionality. At this point I discovered one of the big drawbacks of the device, overheating.
When glass is used a lot especially with processor intensive tasks like this it gets very hot very quickly, thankfully it doesn't sit completely against the head otherwise it would hurt! The overheating quickly impacts performance with glass even displaying a warning on the main screen, after a few minutes of the device running hot the unit locked up and I had to switch to a new unit.
The other oddity at this stage was my ability to focus on the screen, one of the translated signs was a recipe with moderately small text, Rosa had no problem reading this but I couldn't. I need glasses to read things at a distance which I wasn't wearing at the time, it seems a little odd that this would impact my ability to read something so close but it seems it did.
The second demo area was a music recognition app, this one performed flawlessly and was impressive. They had some loud music playing in the corner of the room and a load of glass devices running the shazam app. The app doesn't just recognize the music is displays the lyrics in time with the music!
The third station was running a star map app similar to Google's Sky Map, this made use of the gyro and compass to let you move around and look at the various constellations. If you paused on a particular feature it would start an audio piece describing what you were looking at, providing I was cupping my ear this again worked well.
I have been following Glass since its launch so I went to this event fully aware of its capabilities but I hadn't heard about the problems before so I came away very disappointed, I am now definitely sure it isn't something I need especially with Android Wear devices coming out.
On the other hand Rosa hasn't been following it and only knew what was reported in mainstream media and she came away with a very positive impression of it! Rosa didn't have as many issues as I did but here expectations weren't as high mine.
In conclusion this is a fascinating device but definitely not something for me (at least for now), an Android Wear device will offer a lot of the functionality of glass which is what I will be getting as soon as the Moto 360 is launched.