So, I spent a worthwhile hour today at the Seattle Demo of +Google Glass
and got a better understanding of the device. The overall impression was that while it's definitely an interesting direction, it is not yet a slam-dunk as a product. Would I like to own one? Absolutely, but not at its current price point ($1,500—that's ridiculous and aimed at the eccentric few, imo). Still it's the best concept of a wearable I've experienced so far.
The demo was arranged in an open exhibit hall with several stations demonstrating several aspects of what Glass can do now: general demo, music, written text (as in sign) translation. There was also a "style" station demoing the colors and frames and a snack/drink bar.
The general use is pretty straightforward with a decent touchpad on the side and an activation mode in which you tilt your head up (~30º) to wake the device (I was a big fan of the latter). Other than that, the controls are through voice recognition. By the way, voice recognition in a room filled with ambient noise, with multiple people yelling "OK, glass" commands does not work!
Other than that, getting used to a screen above and to the right of my field of vision was not that difficult. The bone-conduction speaker was a little quiet in a noisy environment, but generally workable.
The music experience was nice, but I found the headphone speakers to be quite bulky. The design is actually quite clever in that the speaker allows ambient noise to reach your ears even when the earpieces are in place. Still, it will take some getting used to. Secondly, and it's a major general issue, all media consumption is through streaming: either wifi or bluetooth
. While away from a stable wifi network, one probably will not be able to use Glass without a wifi hotspot or tethering to a phone.
The coolest demo corner was the written sign translation. Basically, while encountering something written in a foreign language, you can point to the sign and Glass will "photoshop" the translated text onto the image of the sign. This would be very cool if the selection of languages included Asian scripts (I'm sure this is a work in progress, since Google image translation already does this). As it is now, this feature seems very useful when walking around a foreign European city (assuming you have unlimited network connectivity!).Random thoughts:
From talking to the demo people, the battery life is roughly a workday, but the battery charges in about an hour through the USB port.
Network connectivity, as mentioned above, presents challenges. It seems that the optimal operation of the device depends on a stable and strong wifi signal.
While there is ample on-board memory (>10 GB), access to it seems limited to photo storage. For example, music cannot currently be stored on-device.
Having a camera on your head seems like a good idea during the unexpected moments when you have little time to reach for a real camera. At other times, I would imagine it can lead to tension with strangers who expect "privacy" even in public. Also, what do you do when you have to use a public restroom? (Obviously, the etiquette would suggest taking the thing off!)