Gadget watch: The mad Google Glass dash

Wearables have crept from your pocket to your wrist to your face. Are you ready to get your Geordi La Forge on? At any rate, Google Explorers are – and all the hubbub gets us marinating on this formula: Smart glasses + intelligent imaging = good things to come. Bonus feature: This post includes a list of “likes” and “don’t likes” from one of our ArcSoft employees who got to take Google Glass out for a spin. Check it out and let us know if you have anything to add. 

Looks-wise, Google Glass kind of reminisces of Geordi La Forge’s VISOR, version 2.0.

Looks-wise, Google Glass makes us reminisces on Geordi La Forge’s VISOR. The original face tech bling. Meow.

An unknown number of “explorers” (aka, a beta user group whose feedback will help shape how Google Glass evolves) were given the privilege to pay $1,500 a pop for their own pair during a mad dash April 15, when the Explorer Edition of Google’s wearable computer hardware went on sale to the public for one day only. 

ArcSoft employee Dave Lam likes to channel his inner Terminator when modeling Google Glass for his colleagues.

ArcSoft employee Dave Lam likes to channel his inner Terminator when modeling Google Glass for his colleagues.

The futuristic high-tech face accessory was available in five colors including shale, tangerine, sky and charcoal, but looking festive clearly wasn’t part of the appeal for a majority of buyers who kept it classic and opted for cotton white (which subsequently sold out in a matter of hours).

“That’s all, folks” declared the Internet behemoth on the Google Glass website April 16, after the bifocal bonanza reached its finale.

Google announced the terminus of its one-day April 14 sale with this message.

Google announced the terminus of its one-day April 14 sale with this message.

As for the exact figure of just how many Explorers are now meandering about with a computer on their face, Google’s lips are sealed.

Google is, however, being vocal about Glass etiquette, going so far as to publish a mini canon of “do’s” (“explore the world around you”) and “don’ts” that shames users out of becoming a “Glasshole” or “Glassing out.”

Is SNL's Fred Armisen "Glassing out" or just being himself? We may never know.

Is SNL’s Fred Armisen “Glassing out” or just being himself? We may never know. Image credit SNL.

We’ll see how long it takes those techie terms to land a spot in Webster’s. At any rate, the gaggle of memes and spoofs are starting to amass. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Honestly, whoever created this meme has a valid point.

Honestly, whoever created this meme has a valid point.

If you didn’t get into the Google Explorer club, don’t despair: the company “may have more to share soon” and encourages interested users to sign up for a chance to land a spot in the Glass Explorer program. This legion of Googly guinea pigs “are the first to make, to tinker, to create, to shape, and to share through Glass,” the company explains. “We’re expanding little by little, and experimenting with different ways of bringing new Explorers into the program.”

FYI, Explorers must be a US resident and at least 18 years old.

With Google Glass, you can use voice commands to look up things on the Internet, such as, "Google, where can I find the nearest ironic T-shirt store?"

With Google Glass, you can use voice commands to look up things on the Internet, such as, “Google, where can I find the nearest ironic T-shirt store and some Pabst Blue Ribbon to complement my sweet mustache?”

By definition, Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display showing information in a smartphone-like, hands-free format. Its wearers interact with the Internet via voice commands and a touchpad built into the side of the device.

The advent of the wearable face computer “marks the latest chapter in a long trend that began in the 1980s when computers arrived on our desktops,” notes CNN guest columnist Paul Saffo, managing director of Foresight at Discern Analytics and teacher at Stanford University. The information revolution is moving from personal to intimate, he writes, and “while the current generation of Google Glass is doomed to become a clunky eBay collectible, it’s nonetheless a leading indicator of a vast wearables revolution poised to sweep into our lives.”

That revolution will be ushered in by a “zoo” of wearble devices, with info-glass successors emerging as a central control panel for communication between wearables and their human owner, Saffo opines.

The wacky and wonderful world of wearables.

The wacky and wonderful world of wearables.

This, naturally, gets us ArcSoft folk thinking about intelligent imaging (it’s kind of our bailiwick. We couldn’t resist).

In this Brave New Technology World, where by 2020 more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things, according to ABI Research, how can intelligent imaging – including face recognition, scene detection, content analysis, object tracking and image enhancement – transform our interface experience with wearables such as Google Glass?

Face computers. So hot right now.

Face computers. So hot right now.

ArcSoft’s Marketing Director Caroline Tien-Spalding points out: the cacophony of external noise in public places such as work, restaurants, concerts or traffic-jammed highways leave voice-based commands wanting when it comes to daily use.

“Think about it,” she poses. “If you’re at a concert surrounded by thousands of screaming fans, how plausible is it for you to raise your voice above everyone else and say, ‘take a picture?’ Using hand gestures makes way more sense.”

Facial and gesture recognition technology could also enable smart glasses to identify smiles and common poses such as peace signs and winks, automatically snapping the photo without interrupting the conversation or telling your kid to “sit still!”

“Imaging technology can work better in our human interaction flow, versus voice,” Tien-Spalding explains.

She gives a few more examples: Say you’re driving down a busy street and all of a sudden there’s an accident. A Google Glass powered by intelligent imaging would be able to recognize this, quickly analyze the situation and navigate you out of a traffic nightmare in real time. In other driving scenarios, intelligent imaging could enable smart glasses to recognize a sleepy, distracted or impaired driver; important road signs; or an impending change in the speed limit; to name just a few possibilities among a host of potentially critical or helpful indicators.

We also like to picture smart glasses in the context of ArcSoft’s simplicam™ powered by Closeli™, the first and only home monitoring Wi-Fi solution that uses facial detection to alert you when someone is in your home. With simplicam™ powered by Closeli™, a parent could be running errands and get a direct alert on their smart glasses when their kids come home from school; or be cooking dinner in the kitchen and view live video feed via their smart glasses to check on their toddler in an upstairs bedroom.

simplicam comes with a wall mount, so you can easily place it anywhere you want.

When you take a home Wi-Fi monitoring solution with facial detection and pair it with smart glasses, cool things can happen.

So how about some insight from someone who’s taken Google Glass out for a spin? We’ve got firsthand feedback from Senior Project Manager Dave Lam, an ArcSoft team member going on 15 years. Be sure to let us know in the comments section if you’ve tried Google Glass and what you think about it.

ArcSoft employee David Lam, pictured wearing the Google Glass, alongside his two sons Jonathan, 8; and Darren, 6.

ArcSoft employee David Lam, pictured wearing the Google Glass, alongside his two sons Jonathan, 8; and Darren, 6.

LIKES

-Setup was fairly easy. It can be done from the iPhone app or at www.google.com/myglass.

-Being able to take phone calls from Glass is nice. I never really liked the Bluetooth ear pieces, so wearing this was more comfortable. There’s even a built-in speaker right next to the ear. It does come with an extra ear piece unit, but I didn’t try it.

-Taking pictures and shooting video from a first person perspective is really cool.

-Being able to check email and text messages and send them off straight from the phone is a great convenience.

-I like the fact you can choose from four different frame styles to fit prescription lenses.

-The Glass was comfortable to wear and had a cool/geeky look to it, which I liked – especially the sleek design.

-Very light but durable construction.

DISLIKES

-Gestures: It took a little time getting used to swiping forward, backward, up, and down. I had more problems with up and down, as the Glass sometimes wouldn’t receive those actions. It takes a little getting used to.

-In order to use data from my AT&T phone, I must have the data tethering plan. I don’t subscribe to this feature, however, and only subscribe to the regular data plan. Therefore, I can’t use a lot of the Glass features which use data, so I’m stuck with having to be in a Wi-Fi network.

-The video on the glass is not as bright as I’d like it to be. Because of this, it’s not easy to see outdoors with lots of light. I would sometimes find myself using my hand to keep too much light from coming in.

-Glass didn’t support my Facebook News feed. I could only share photos/videos out to Facebook.

-No Instagram support just yet. But it’s possible this may be in the works in the future.

-No ESPN support for my sports, but Glass does have another sports app for this.

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