google-glass-stock-imageOnce the exclusive domain of science fiction writers, glasses that allow you to display data, take photos and videos, translate real-time speech and even identify faces in a crowd have become a reality thanks to Google Glass. While rumors have been around for several years now, not many believed that this new piece of hardware would have found its way to developers quite so soon. Indeed, the first versions of Google Glass have already been purchased by developers at a cost of around $1,500 a pair. So what exactly can we expect from this new technology: a revolutionary step forward or a mere gimmick?

What is it?

Google Glass is Google’s attempt to move data from traditional desktop computers and mobile devices to a prism screen that sits right at the end of your nose. Comprised of a display, touchpad, camera, battery and microphone, Google’s glasses will allow users to display data, take photographs and videos, and search while on the move.

How does it work?

Google Glass puts data into the upper right-hand corner of your field of vision using a prism screen. This placement is intended to be readable while not obstructing normal vision. The embedded microphone allows wearers to use voice commands to control what they see, with the side arm touchpad further facilitating navigation. Bone-induction technology, the presence of which has been confirmed, will also eliminate the need for headphones, as wearers will have sound transmitted directly to their ears through vibrations.

Google is also developing several other versions of the technology, for example by integrating prescription lenses into the design so that wearers of corrective glasses may also make use of the product. According to rumours mentioned in New York Times article Google has been talking with some eyeglasses retailers and manufacturers, which appears logic: and a deal with the likes of industry giant Luxottica would definitely boost both companies’ market-share and assure Google’s new product better look and alternative form of distribution.

What will it be used for?

Among the many potential uses of Google Glass is the possibility of translating or transcribing what is being said in real-time, potentially eliminating the need for minute taking and interpreting. Similarly, users can take real-time photographs or video footage of what they see from a first-person perspective; though this has prompted alarm from those who view this secret agent style filming technique as a potentially harmful breach of privacy.

Using the MyGlass app, users can also pair their glasses with their Android device, thus giving them the ability to read and reply to messages using the Google Glass voice-to-text software. If the glasses are paired with a GPS device, directions should become integrated with users’ vision such that following them becomes an intuitive process.

App developers have understandably grown excited about this new technology and are creating a myriad of new apps to complement it. From face recognition software and e-mail dictation technology to real-time flight information and newspaper headline apps, the sky really seems to be the limit.

When will it be on the market?

Though no official release date has been announced, some believe that Google Glass will be available to consumers by the end of 2013. Though the present cost to developers is around $1,500, the consumer version is expected to be cheaper.

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