Glass is Google's reimagining of how people use their mobile technology. It gives you all the features of a high end smartphone on a small transparent screen mounted in front of your right eye on a pair of glasses. This makes everything more accessible and brings previously obscure apps, such as translators and speech-to-text, into the foreground.
On its own, Google Glass can take photos and videos, play music and movies, spot your friends in a crowd with facial recognition and give you access to a world of apps. One cool Glass-specific app is a version of Google Translate that listens to what's being said to you and translates it into your own language in real time. Pair it to an Android phone through Bluetooth though and there's not a lot Google Glass can't do. With the smartphone synced you can make phone calls, send text messages and use GPS to get directions overlaid on the road you're looking at. It's a full sci-fi world of augmented reality controlled by your voice. Glass has even been used in surgery to stream live images to other mobile devices, something that could aid education and give surgeons support from experts around the world in the future.
A small prism screen mounted on a regular glasses frame is your display. Google says it's the equivalent of viewing a 25" HD TV from eight feet away, so should be pretty clear. You can see through it when it isn't displaying an image so it's less intrusive and is mounted so it would only be in the periphery of your vision. Next to the innovative screen is an arm of the frame that contains bone induction technology to provide sound. This works by vibrating the skull to give private audio without the need for bulky headphones and tangled wires. This means you can easily listen to music, videos and phone calls as loud as you like without disturbing anyone around you. It also happens to be better for your hearing than conventional headphones.
With the pioneering speaker, there's also a microphone that Glass uses to listen to and obey your every command. All you need to do is say "OK Glass" and give your command, like "OK Glass, take a photo," and the hardware will do the rest. The lucky few who are already using Glass say this allows them to take a photo in less than a second, compared to 6-12 seconds if they had to rely on getting their smartphone out of their pocket first. The right arm of Glass also acts as a touch pad. While pretty much everything that Glass does can be controlled by your voice, there may be times when you want to go back to the good old days of touchscreens. This arm also contains all the clever bits that make the whole thing work, like a 1GHz dual core ARM processor, 570 mAh battery, 16GB memory, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 5MP camera. Pretty impressive for such a small package that only weighs 43 grams.
Unfortunately, Google is being pretty rigorous with its testing of Glass. A couple of thousand lucky applicants were given the opportunity to buy pre-production models so Google could get thorough testing in the real world but the rest of us will likely have to wait until the end of the year before the device is mass produced. Keep checking back for the latest on Glass and its hotly anticipated release in our Launchpad.