Read original story on: The Verge
Intel will replace Texas Instruments as the new supplier of process chips in a revamped version of Google Glass. The new version, reportedly coming next year, will also be equipped with longer battery life, as well as a reduced price tag. As Intel dives deeper into wearables, it will be interesting to see if such a redesign will finally help Google Glass to break into mainstream.
Babak Parviz, the man who helmed the Google X project that eventually led to Google Glass, has moved to work at Amazon. The optics expert announced the news on his Google+ page, saying that he is “super excited” but doesn’t disclose any details about what he’ll be doing next. One would assume that with Google Glass largely moved past the research stage, this move certainly signals Amazon’s interest in expanding the company’s effort around optical tech. Or at least, improving the “object-recognition Firefly feature on their new Fire Phone. Given the hot market trend of moving towards wearable techs, it looks like Mr. Parviz will keep busy for the foreseeable future.
Although Google Glass went on sale in the UK last week, the “Glass-hole” phenomenon appears to have spread globally, and now the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association in the UK has banned the glasses from all movie theaters, whether there is a movie on or not. It’s a move that makes sense, even though technically speaking it’d be hard to record a film properly through the glasses. It will be interesting to see how Google can make the all-in-one wearable palatable to a public that, it seems, isn’t quite ready to accept them yet.
Google Glass already has a host of third-party apps, but Starwood is one of the first major brands to develop on the platform. Starwood’s app will let users search and book hotel rooms, view photos of the resorts and even get turn-by-turn directions to a location. Glass just closed their one-day public sale Tuesday, but with an estimated 10,000 Glass in use prior, Starwood can’t be reaching that large of an audience. They are likely making an investment in the future of Glass and getting some nice PR in the process.
Docomo, one of several companies jumping on the smart glasses bandwagon, is a testament to the potential of wearable computing but also the difficulty in perfecting it for eye-wear. Its Mobile World Congress demo is a prototype with no street date set, and it illustrates that while no one has caught up to Google glass yet, there’s a wave of smaller companies with great ideas exploring what’s possible. This concept demo caught the attention of a few blog recently, and I was excited to give it a test spin.
Docomo’s “vision” for the future has a tinge of Terminator to it– with an opt-in twist and less violence. They integrate facial recognition into the glasses so that when you look at someone the screen tells you who they are, and where and when you saw them last (something that could come in handy for people like me who aren’t great with names and faces). Their pitch is that in the future people will opt into a social network optimized for smart glasses, which accesses our photos and personal info to connect us with other people. It would take time to get there, but the premise seems reasonable.
The company, based in Tokyo, also has an impressive language translation demo where you look at a menu written in Japanese and it automatically overlays English translations next to each menu item. It’s a feature I’d happily use at the Barcelono restaurant where I’m writing this blog.
The snag in all of this is that while the technology technically works, the user experience is strained and uncomfortable on every level. The text is incredibly small, you’re constantly fidgeting to get the screen in a comfortable place, and the resolution is lackluster. That said Docomo gets major points for imagination, and with the right execution their vision for wearable computing may become reality in the years to come.
This seems like a natural integration move by the Glass team, one that makes effective use of the listening capabilities of the device as well as its potential interaction with the environment around it. Google will sell stereo headphones with Glass to completely integrate the user into the listening experience. It’ll function through the command “Play Music,” and will include a spotify-like mp3 service to stream the files for you on demand. It will be important to see what this means for both the music industry, as well as streaming services more broadly. Could this launch a new competitor to Spotify?
Google not only announced a big hardware upgrade to Glass, but they also announced an accessory store for the device. It’s only accessible to early adopters of the device at present, but it has items like extra cables and chargers, extra earbuds, and a new version of Glass itself. It’s not quite market-ready, as prices are still fairly high, but it’s an early indication of the ways in which Google will be monetizing and customizing Glass for the average consumer.
Google Glass and the AR movement at large have created enormous opportunities to change behaviors. A new Glass app, Glashion, does just this, allowing users to purchase fashion items they see on the fly. The app captures a photo of the product and uses the ShopStyle API to find similar items, which can then be purchased directly in the app. The app can also direct the user to nearby stores carrying the item. Founder Billy Mauro explains that Glashion’s goal is to demonstrate how Glass can bridge online and offline shopping behaviors, and should Glass take off, this kind of behavior could become increasingly common.
We all know the value of in-car navigation systems, but a true door-to-door system doesn’t quite exist yet. Mercedes-benz are working with Google on developing Google Glass to continue your turn-by-turn navigation after you park your car. Google already offers walking directions via Google Maps, but the Mercedes app would seamlessly switch between Glass and your vehicle, meaning that directions wouldn’t stop or need to be reset upon exiting the car. The end goal is to have this app available to the public for Glass’s 2014 launch.
Google Glass has its first competitor. GlassUp, an Italian startup that recently added its product to Indiegogo, has raised $25,000 towards its version of augmented reality specs that will cost a fraction of the Google Glass. The eyewear works with your smartphone and makes it simple to see emails, text messages, news, and driving directions right in front of your eyes. Gianluigi Tregnaghi, GlassUp’s founder, claims to have created the product two years ago, before Google announced Glass. The information in the smartphone is sent to the glasses via Bluetooth, and the notifications are broadcasted on GlassUp’s lenses – but it projects information closer to the center of vision, much like looking through a windshield. Though there are fewer features as of yet – the company calls GlassUp a “receive only” device – the $399 price point is significantly easier on the wallet than Google’s $1500 asking price.