The medium of technology is ever growing and advancing at a tremendous rate. Being a fully functional digital agency, we at Thunderbolt are always interested in the latest gadgets and technology ventures that the world has to offer. Our tech-savvy team of web designers, web developers and marketing experts (based in Farnham, Surrey) love keeping up to date with all things digital. One thing that especially caught our eye this week was the release of Google Glass in the UK.
Almost two years since its release in the US, Google Glass has finally been released in the UK. With the price starting at £1,000, Google Glass is available to anyone over the age of 18 with a British credit card and address. However, second hand glasses from America are on sale on eBay, with prices starting at £950. So far they have been described and praised as “the evolution of wearable computing”, with Google’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, describing them a way “to free your eyes”, with smart phones being “too emasculating”.
As with all Google based mobile devices, Google Glass run the popular operating system Android. At first glance they appear to be a normal pair of glasses, but what separates them from the norm is the small screen located above the right eye, only visible to the user. This new, innovative platform can take both pictures and videos, with navigation tackled through voice command and hand swipes. It relies on a smartphone for its data connectivity, and contains a day’s battery life or 45 minutes of continuous video recoding.
Google has stated that Glass is still in beta (prototype) form, and is requesting that its users providing them with feedback so they can edit, fix and improve upon this already state-of-the-art mobile device. Since its release, Google has already implemented five hardware revisions and twelve software updates. The UK model features a superior battery that previous models and comes with customisable voice adaptation software to cater to the many variations of the English accent.
As Android is the device’s operating system, there are a multitude of apps available for Glass on the Google Play Store, including five new apps being introduced exclusively to the UK from The Guardian, Star Chart, Shazam, Zombies Run and goal.com. There have also been rumours of Tesco developing an app to synergies with in store visits.
Google Glass is available with prescription lenses, and soon will feature five swappable frames, and eight sunglasses designed by the fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg. Google are hoping that Glass will eventually cost the same as the average smart phone, making it more appealing, and available to a larger demographic.
However, amongst all the positive attributes Google Glass is delivering, issues have been raised relating to privacy, ridicule and even muggings in the US. One of the main issues is Glass’ ability to record a video or take photos without a subject knowing and route it through Google’s servers, which of course has implications for privacy.
The cinema chain Vue has taken to banning customers from wearing Google Glass during screenings due to issues regarding piracy. On the other hand, British Airwaves hasn’t taken this action in regards to the use of Google Glass during flights, simply asking their customers to simply switch them into flight mode instead, as you would with a mobile phone. Virgin Active and Fitness first have also taken a similar action by not banning the use of Google Glass in their facilities, but rather politely asking customers not to use the camera or video recording attributes whilst in their gyms. The coffee chain Starbucks have asked their customers not to photograph or film their staff, with Costa stating that if customers are seen using Google Glass inappropriately they will be politely asked to leave.
Additionally, issues relating to road safety have also been raised. A law was introduced in the 1980s making it illegal to view a screen whilst driving, unless it is showing material providing driving information. However, Google have released a video on the Google Glass YouTube page showing how Glass helped a cyclist navigate through the streets of London, giving examples of Glass providing travel information. The DfT have been looking into the impact Google Glass can have on a driver (good and bad), and it is reported that a meeting between to the companies to discuss the issue has taken place. A Google spokeswoman confirmed the meetings, stating that they urge its users to use Google Glass safely.
Is Google Glass the future? Will everyone be using them in a couple of years’ time? Will other companies try to rival Glass’ success and create their own version? Or will they just be a fad, which doesn’t really take off? Let us know your thoughts on this newly available to the UK mobile device in the comments.