A Canadian Glasshole, Part I: Google Glass Represents the Future, but as a Tool or a Toy?

by Tom Emrich

As a kid who longed to have the Nintendo Power Glove under the tree but was only able to live vicariously through Fred Savage in The Wizard, opening up the white box marked Glass at home was a dream come true.

Glass has been likened to the early adopter’s Ferrari and Google definitely packaged it as such. An oversize box designed almost Apple-like held my shale-coloured Glass elevated on its own level above the various accessories below it.

The setup process for Glass was pretty simple. Google uses QR code technology to help you link Glass to your account and to setup wifi networks around you. I was up and running with Glass less than five minutes after the unboxing.

I spent the rest of my time trying to figure out exactly how to use Glass. It’s been a while since I have been unfamiliar with how to interface with technology and I would have to say that being faced with something new was definitely part of the thrill.

Interacting with Glass is a whole new experience unlike anything you have used before. Parts of Glass are familiar, like the use of voice or actions like tapping and swiping, but the new form factor turns these all on their head.

Voice works whenever Glass is awake and the voice prompt is available. I would say that Glass understands about 75% of what I am saying and is two times better than using Apple’s Siri. Voice prompts are most always preceded by the now infamous saying “Ok Glass” which cues Glass to do anything from taking a picture, recording a video, performing a Google search or sending a message. One of my favorite use cases right now is to ask Glass to read headlines from the New York Times.

SEE ALSO: Google Glass Slips into Mainstream as Company Drops 'Project' from Name

The problem with Voice Control on Glass is that anyone can really start to take control of your device if they are close enough and they catch you in an area with a voice prompt and use the cue "Ok Glass." I am not sure how Google will get around this, perhaps allowing users to set their own cue phrases in their options is an idea, but it's definitely something that needs to be fixed.

Tapping and swiping is done on the right arm of Glass which is bulkier than the left. At first, I had issues with Glass registering my hand gestures but I found this was because I was much too timid with the device mainly because I didn’t want to break it. But now that I have used it for a couple of weeks this is no longer a problem.

Tapping the device wakes it up. Something you have to do often as Glass goes to sleep very quickly because it is only meant to be on when you need it. Remember, Glass’ mandate is to get technology out of the way of life. Swiping backwards brings up Google Now cards like weather and your calendar and also is where you will find settings, while moving forward brings up your timeline where your emails, notifications and pictures appear in chronological order (most recent first).

There aren’t a lot of apps for Glass right now (well not official apps that is). You can share with Google+, Facebook and Twitter (share only, no viewing of status updates or items in your network feeds yet). CNN, Elle and the New York Times offer headline updates and highlights from your Tumblr feed are also available. But right now Glass is mostly about communication (emails, calls, texts), directions, Google searches and capturing the moment.

More apps are really going to be a must for me to justify waking up and putting Glass on every morning. Right now I use Glass when I remember to, more like a toy or a game rather than a life tool. This is very different than my Pebble Smartwatch which I put on right after I take a shower.

I have only had Glass for over three weeks and I can safely say that it is one of those devices that really make you feel like you have finally reached the future. Whether or not this future is something you need everyday is, for me, yet to be determined.

Read Part II of "A Canadian Glasshole" now.

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. As a first step to fulfilling that mission, Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed a new approach to online search that took root in a Stanford University dorm room and quickly spread to information seekers around the globe. Google is now widely recognized as the world's... more

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Tom Emrich

Tom Emrich

Tom is a freelance consultant and blogger based in Toronto specializing in mobile, tablets and emerging technology. He has worked with independent developers, major media companies and start-ups on successfully developing, launching and marketing digital products here in Canada and abroad. His professional passion for technology is eclipsed only by his personal obsession with emerging... more

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