There are certain inventions we know are coming. We’ve seen them in science fiction and it is just a matter of time until technology makes them possible.
The iPad was one we always knew was coming. We saw Capt. Jean Luc Picard using one in Star Trek TNG decades before Wi-Fi and affordable touch panels made them feasible.
Heads up displays have been available in pilot’s helmets for years. Gamers have been getting information about their opponents and allies with in-game heads up displays.
So Google Glass is simply a real life manifestation of something we have been expecting.
The problem sometimes with new technology is that it’s a solution looking for a problem. Does Google Glass solve problems, or seek one to solve?
That’s the question even Google has been asking. While Google Glass will not be sold to the public until sometime next year, they have sold less than 10,000 available to a limited audience in the hope of gleaning ideas. Developers will then use those ideas to create apps.
Glass is not a virtual reality headset. It doesn’t take over 100 percent of your view. When you wear it, a small, translucent image can be seen when you look up. At first you just see the current time, but if you say “OK Glass,” you get a list of things you can do.
You can take a picture or video — Glass has a built-in camera and 12 gigabytes of memory. Or, if you have it connected to your phone via Bluetooth, you can place a call, dictate a text or send an email. You can also make a video call, where the person you are speaking to sees what you are seeing.
You can get driving or walking instructions. It shows one turn per screen. You simply have to glance up to see the direction. In the car, its like glancing up to your sun visor, instead of down at your phone.
And you can do a web search. If I ask it what the height of the Empire State Building is, I see a picture of the building with the answer in text. And a woman’s voice reads me the answer via the built-in speaker.
A new feature added in the past week lets you see a full web page. You move around the page by raising and lowering your head, and looking side to side. Touching the temple of Glass lets you “click” a link on the web page. And yes, that looks really dorky when you do it.
Glass will let you read emails or text messages, it can even read those aloud to you.
So, is Glass needed?
The navigation app shows some of the better capability, I think. Larger tasks can be broken up into small tasks and shown to you one at a time.
A recipe app shows you the next step to perform as you cook or bake.
There is a team working on step-by-step CPR instructions so that you can read the instructions while your hands are on the victim.
The on-face camera is one of the Glass’ most immediate benefits. I’ve seen some wonderful photos of babies taken by their mothers while holding them. The baby sees Mom’s face; not a camera. We get to see a baby looking at the human they most treasure and trust.
It’s not easy to compose a shot, but all photos automatically upload when I get home to Wi-Fi to my Google+ Photos account. It has wonderful tools for cropping and otherwise augmenting my Glass images.
So, am I going to keep Glass past the 30-day return period? Will it be something a family would ever want? I’m not sure yet. If I find a great use for it, or a great idea for an app, then yes, I probably will keep it. That will be a column in a few weeks.
Mark Stout lives in Lake Ridge and writes about technology in his blog. For links mentioned in the column and more information, go tohttp://www.familytechonline.com. For more of Mark’s online activities, see http://about.me/markstout.