Gadgets

Google Glass

By
From the September 2013 issue of Columbus CEO
  • Photo by Tim Johnson
  • Photo by Tim Johnson

In the very near future, wearable gadgets will be the choice for information on the go.

When the need to know is immediate, digital platforms are where most people turn.

That used to mean relying on a PC. More recently, that has meant pulling out a tablet or smartphone.In the very near future, wearable gadgets will be the choice for information on the go.

And like with so many other digital frontiers, Google is forging a path in the area of wearable technology with Google Glass.

Some friends at AWH—a local business that has created more than 4,500 digital apps used by more than 10 million people and which is now working on apps for Google Glass—loaned me their pair to test. It was a snap to synch the gadget, via a free My Glass app, to an Android phone. Using Bluetooth, the glasses then connected to the Internet through my Wi-Fi network or cellular data plan.

One immediately feels silly wearing these lensless glasses (a member of the Borg on Star Trek: The Next Generation comes quickest to mind; in San Francisco, Google Glass wearers are crudely called “Glass-holes”). But eventually your self-consciousness evaporates and you marvel at how the screen visible to your eye looks so sharp and works so naturally.

With a tilt of your head and the command “OK Glass,” you can ask the gadget to perform myriad tasks: take a 5-megapixel picture, record a 720p video, conduct a Google search (the Webpageat results can be manipulated by swiping along the glasses’ temple piece), play a YouTube or other video (the product uses a bone conduction speaker for sound), send e-mail or text messages, display turn-by-turn directions (hands down, the most impressive feature) or even share what you see and hear with a select circle of friends in realtime.

Experts say Google Glass is designed for content that is consumed in anywhere from a few seconds to under a minute. For content consumed in one to five minutes, most people use a cellphone. Longer than minutes, you’re most likely to use your tablet or PC.

After a week, I came away with two conclusions:

Google Glass is a mighty impressive gadget, but one that you’ll probably use sparingly once the “coolness” factor subsides.

Google has it wrong. Dick Tracy had it right. When it comes to a wearable, Tracy talked to his watch, not his glasses. Put the features of Google Glass into a watch and the world will have its “next big thing.”

Phil Pikelny is vice president of Dispatch Digital and chief marketing officer of The Dispatch Printing Company.

 

The Next Smart Watch

Cartoonist Chester Gould (1900-1985) was ahead of his time with his Dick Tracy watch back in the 1930s. In 2013, a wrist wearable that fetches all manner of content, context and camera shots has finally arrived.

The buzz is full bore that Apple will be selling an iWatch by early 2014 (press reports claim Apple has already applied for a trademark on that name in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and China). Apple’s most dogged competitor, Samsung, announced it was working on a watch March. Sony already has a watch on the market that limits its skills to answering a call and displaying text and e-mail messages. Pebble is another watch already on the market that synchs with a wearer’s iOS or Android smartphone to do an increasing number of chores as developers write ever-more-productive programs.

To date, none of the “smart” watches already on the market can match the abilities of Google Glass.However, a 2011 patent application indicates that even Google is working on the creation of a “smart watch.”

My money is on that watch, or Apple’s iWatch, setting a new, and much higher, standard for what wearable technology will be capable of achieving.