My Thoughts on Glass

August 27th, 2013 by Chris Allen

I recently took a trip down to NYC a few weeks ago to pick up my new Google Glass. I figured now that we’ve had a bit of time to play with it here at Infrared5 and Brass Monkey, it’s time to write a post on our findings and what we think.

The experience:

For the most part I have not been able to bring myself to wear the thing around too much. I find the device to be comfortable enough but the prism screen thingy always feels like it is in the way and is a bit of a distraction, plus it is a definite strain to look up and to the right all the time to see the screen. Adding to this, there is simply not enough software that comes with the device to make it useful. Many times I would simply prefer to pull my smartphone out of my pocket and use it to look up information.

I also find it hard to also get past the “Glasshole factor”. It’s not just that a person wearing Glass looks like a total dork; I think there’s a bigger social stigma going on. People react to it in the most peculiar ways- either wanting to try it themselves because they think it’s cool (which is actually a pretty rare occurance), or they are a bit freaked out by the whole thing. Case in point: the second day after having Glass, I was at an exhibition at the MoMA PS1 in Queens, NYC. While they allow and in some cases even encourage people to photograph exhibits, they politely asked me to remove my Glass. There was something about it that they didn’t understand and I think they figured it was better to be on the safe side. There is a definite fear about what it does, and it often really creeps people out. Here are a couple of articles touching on the “creepy stigma” that comes with Glass:

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2013/06/19/these-7-countries-are-really-freaked.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/20/google-glass_n_3305519.html

So now for the good part:

While I’m not a big user of the device, I do see its potential and we are having a ton of fun with it from a programming perspective. One of the things it is lacking as I already mentioned is good and useful software. That is where we think we can make a difference. Despite the fact there isn’t an official Glass SDK, our team has been able to do cool things with the device. The Glass is essentially just another Android device, but has very different inputs. Inputs like the touch pad are not readily accessible from the SDK at the moment, at least not when building a Unity game for Android and running it on the device. There’s currently no way to launch APKs that you install on the Glass without tethering and building directly via a USB cable. So this means that you can’t easily distribute any of the apps you build for it.

We have installed a modified version of Brass Monkey onto the Glass and have been able to control an object on another screen using the Glass’ accelerometer (see the video below of our developer Zach running this experiment). We think this setup has potential for interesting interactions like driving games, first person shooters (ability to look around a scene) and more.  We also did some experiments combining the phone with Glass and a third screen which we think has a ton of potential. Imagine using your phone as the game controller to move around a space, the Glass’ accelerometer is used for changing the camera view in the scene as well as showing a HUD, and the main screen (let’s say a TV) showing the main game play action.

There are a ton of exciting things we can do with this technology. We are excited to be releasing some of our experiments and eventually new games once Google creates a way to distribute apps made for the Glass. In the meantime we will continue to post more on our blog, but we really want to hear from you! What kinds of apps would you build for Glass? Let us know in the comments section below and if you are interested in using Brass Monkey with Glass, please contact us and we can get you the customized SDKs to be able to work with the device. Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing from you!

Chris Allen is President of Infrared5 and CEO of Brass Monkey. For more information on Brass Monkey, check out their site at www.playbrassmonkey.com and feel free to download the app and give it a try!

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2 Responses to “My Thoughts on Glass”

  1. Jeffrey Jacobson Says:

    From the day we started painting animals on the cave wall, we have augmented our reality with ideas and information. We do this explicitly through art, symbols, and writing, but we also do it implicitly in the very shape and surface of the objects we use and the places we live in.

    All of this has gone into overdrive since the introduction of electronic media, especially with personal computing moving from a monolithic desktop to a collection of small devices. Google Glass may be new technology, but its an old idea, generally under the term “augmented reality”. All the basic principles of good user interface design apply… and a few new ones.

    I’m excited to see how displays like this combine with with the new input devices (Perceputal Computing) to produce what I would call immersive interaction. All of this was predicted 20 years ago when I first got into virtual-reality, and it’s finally happening.

    Good fun!

  2. Jeffrey Jacobson Says:

    Glass has plenty of competition, too:

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57599592-76/telepathy-raises-$5-million-to-develop-google-glass-rival/

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