BC Professor Tests Out New Google Glass
Jerry Kane of information systems was selected to participate in a pilot program for Glass.
Published: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 8, 2013 21:09
“I have no doubt that Glass is the future,” said Jerry Kane, associate professor and assistant chairperson of information systems. “The only question is: how far away is that reality?”
Earlier this summer, Kane was selected by Google to participate in a pilot program for Glass, a wearable computer that is designed to look like glasses. For the price of $1500, Kane and other accepted applicants were able to pick up the Explorer Edition from Google offices and try them out before the rest of the public. Kane believes that his social media influence was what made him an attractive pilot tester for the tech giant.
“On a whim I videoed my class saying ‘Please give us Google Glass’ and I posted it to Twitter,” Kane said. “They used social media influence as an important differentiator, and I have a fairly big social media presence.”
Glass runs Android operating software with apps that are tailored to its unique interface. Users can command Glass either vocally or by touching a touch pad that is located on a user’s temple. A screen sits in front of a user’s right eye, which Google has advertised as the equivalent of looking at a 25-inch screen from eight feet away. One app appears on the screen at a time, and users can easily scroll through them by using the touch pad. Current apps available to testers include Google Now, Google Maps, and Gmail, as well as third party apps such as The New York Times app.
While Kane is convinced that Glass is the future, he believes the product has a long way to go before it will be successful in the market. “Right now it is sort of geeky and sort of clunky,” he said. “The interface is also a little clunky. It is hard to use effectively. The battery life is pretty bad. I also feel a bit awkward using the voice commands in public. Using the touch sensor is a bit more subtle.”
Kane does, however, see lots of positives about the first iteration of Glass. “The screen is absolutely remarkable,” he said. “Glass also has 15 GB worth of storage—that’s crazy.”
Kane sees a very bright future for the device once more consumers have access to it. “Right now I am struggling with seeing everyday uses for Glass, but that is why they had to send it out to testers,” he said. “People will develop uses for it and come up with solutions for the problems that Glass has.”
According to Kane, functionalities not yet incorporated into Glass could have a major impact on its usefulness as a product.
“The question you have to ask is ‘Can I do more with this device than I could by just duct-taping my smartphone to my head?” he said. “If you are just taking photos and videos then this device isn’t much of an improvement. The apps I am more excited about would include face recognition, which is banned right now, or the ability to read another person’s MAC address for their device to identify them.”
Apps that utilize this sort of technology would have a myriad of uses. “I could be at a conference and I don’t know you from Adam, but Glass could identify you and pull up your Facebook profile and alert me that we have an appointment,” Kane said. “A doctor using an app with face recognition could have a patient’s records pulled up on his or her Glass right as the patient walks in. Or retailers could use Glass to recognize who their best customers are walking around and pull up their sales history to make sure that the best customers get excellent customer service.”
Glass fits nicely into Kane’s vision of a future digitalized world. “What happens when a digital layer is placed over reality?” he said. “Imagine walking up to the BC Eagle statue and the Wikipedia page for it is pulled up so you can learn its history and then you can sign a digital layer of graffiti to show that you have visited there. A game called Ingress has also been developed for Glass that splits Glass wearers into two teams that go around to historical monuments that are covered by a digital layer of information. They can claim markers for their team by doing certain things at the markers.”
There is no official release date for Glass as of yet, but Kane does not believe it will be released in 2013. Whatever the release date is, Kane believes Glass will be the next step in the evolution of technology.
“We have gone from desktops to the pocket,” he said. “Now we are going from the pocket to digital reality. It’s only a matter of time.”