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back to article Google stokes hype machine over Project Glass robospecs

Google has been talking up its augmented-reality specs, dubbed Project Glass, for the past year. Now its hype machine has kicked up a notch with a competition on social media to allow members of the public to get in the queue for the $1,500 prototypes. The wire and screen glasses are one of Sergey Brin's pet projects and there's …

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Boffin

"No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times"

Says you... Personally, I enjoy having corrected vision and since I don't like contact lenses and don't want lasers or scalpels near my eyes glasses are the best choice.

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Re: "No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times"

I love my glasses and frankly if I woke up with perfect vision tomorrow, I'd still wear them.

But that brings me to another point. This is one of the most exciting steps in personal technology, and I can see it replacing the smartphone. But I cannot see how it could possibly work for people who need prescription glasses.

The image is, presumably, projected onto the inside of a lens and so can't be corrected BY the lens. Even if an image was put in front, no-one who wears glasses can focus on something half an inch from their face. That's not how prescriptions work. So, unless I've missed something, this is impossible technology for anyone wearing glasses already.

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Re: "No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times"

You are missing something: Even people who do not wear glasses cannot focus on something half an inch from their face. The optics inside Glass probably display everything to your eye as if it was a few meters away, so if you can see clearly a few meters away while wearing glasses, you should be fine wearing Glass over your glasses.

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Re: "No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times"

I genuinely don't understand.

In that case a 'de-focussed' image must be projected onto the glass. Because the image IS on the glass, but I guess the wearer looks 'through' the glass and focusses normally with the image being focussed as it if was in the middle distance.

Which means a glasses wearer would need to be projecting an image altered specifically for their prescription - in my case with a high prescription and astigmatism. Not impossible, but damn clever. It'll be the only thing my eye has seen in focus for decades!

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Re: "No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times"

I like seeing glasses on a woman. They give a wonderfully sophisticated and sexy look.

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Re: "No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times"

Huuh… Not sure what your objection is. Ideally, if Glass shows you the image of an object, there should be no difference at all between the rays of light coming from Glass, and the rays of light coming from a real object say 10 meters away. If you have good eyesight you can see both without trouble.

Now if you have bad eyesight, you have prescription glasses that transform the rays of light coming from any real object 10 meters away so that your eyes can see the object properly. Rays of light coming from Glass should be transformed in exactly the same way, and allow your eye to see properly what Glass is displaying.

Now, there might be a problem if your eyesight is so bad that you cannot see an object 10 meters away even with prescription glasses. You would need to have a special Glass which mimics the rays of light coming from a closer object that you can normally see, maybe 50 centimeters away; but this would probably be very expensive because that would need custom optics inside the Glass instead of the mass-produced ones which mimic objects 10 meters away.

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Re: "No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times"

> "No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times"

I'll take my glasses over contact lenses I can't get out (I nearly lost one round the back of my eyeball) and someone firing a high-energy laser directly into my eye, thank you very much.

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JDX
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No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times

Except the billion or so for who it is second nature.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times

Make that 2 billion-1 as I have to wear glasses but would much prefer I hadn't.

Actually I suspect you can take a bilion something easily.

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Meh

Re: No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times

I've been wearing glasses since I was 7. I still hate the necessity. I can't wear contacts because my eyes are physically too small (combined with high prescription = constant discomfort), I can't get laser surgery because my corneas are to thin, and I can't have corneal implants because my pupils are too large.

Second nature it may be, but I guarantee you that almost none of us would hesitate if offered natural 20/20 vision again.

On the other hand, I certainly wouldn't pay $1,500 for a portable horse porn viewing system.

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Re: No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times

Glasses are a pain, I had laser correction because of the annoyances of wearing glasses!

Now I dont need to keep buying new glasses every time my kids break them...

I can understand why some people would avoid it... but I only had it after investigating the tech... and I trusted the tech as much as I did the surgeon who did the procedure...

It does really matter who you have do it, not just what you have done... No scalpels near my eyes, lasers only...

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JDX
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Re: No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times

>>I guarantee you that almost none of us would hesitate if offered natural 20/20 vision again.

That's a very poor argument. Accepting perfect vision for free doesn't mean people have a major hassle with glasses. I'd take a bigger knob if it was on offer but I don't have a problem with the one I've got.

The point is, anyone who wears glasses all the time - which is a huge number - will be pre-primed for 'smart glasses' even if those people with good eyes can't be convinced. And of course most people in sunny countries are used to wearing sunglasses too.

I don't see "having to wear glasses" as a big stumbling block, if they deliver something even slightly useful.

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Re: No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times

Second nature it may be, but I guarantee you that almost none of us would hesitate if offered natural 20/20 vision again.

You "guarantee" that "almost none of us would hesitate"?

"Hi, I'm a Reg commentator, and like most I believe that my opinions must be shared by nearly everyone, overwhelming evidence to the contrary notwithstanding."

For the record, I can and do wear glasses or contacts, depending on my mood and situational requirements. (I wear my contacts when I'm working on the house, for example, so I can wear proper, non-prescription safety glasses, for example.)

My only complaint with glasses is that it's damned hard to find frames I like.

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Re: No one really likes to wear glasses at the best of times

The point is, anyone who wears glasses all the time - which is a huge number - will be pre-primed for 'smart glasses' even if those people with good eyes can't be convinced.

And you were doing so well.

I like wearing my glasses, but I wouldn't take "smart glasses" if you paid me. They're idiotic, as far as I'm concerned.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go kick those damn kids off my lawn again.

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Linux

That looks pretty cool.

And it's Linux. 'Nuf said.

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Re: That looks pretty cool.

Good. We can yell rm -r then.

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Re: That looks pretty cool.

Google Glass[1] may be many things, but I can't see how it qualifies as "cool", in the sense in which that term was popularized in the twentieth century to describe a certain personal style. The point of "cool" was that it described a kind of sophisticated reserve.[2] It's characterized by detachment and calmness. Google Glass is conspicuous consumption, distraction, gadget fetishism - the opposite of cool.

McLuhan famously talks about this in Understanding Media before extending it to his concept of "hot" and "cool" media.[3] Google Glass is most plausibly toward the "hot" end of the scale, as a medium under McLuhan's classification. In fact, it moves the relatively "cool" medium of typical Web entertainment use over to the hot side by (almost literally) shoving it in the user's face, and by divorcing the viewing experience from the more-cognitive input stream of typing and attaching it to the more-immediate one of speaking.

So, no, not really cool. And I'd say that even if I didn't think it was stupid. I don't think cool media are inherently better than hot media; in fact, when I watch television (which is not all that often, and almost never by myself) I generally enjoy it in more of a hot mode, though McLuhan considered it a cool medium. (Conversely, when I listen to the radio, it's almost always in cool mode, though McLuhan considered it hot for most listeners.)

[1] Must ... resist temptation to ... make ... feeble ... puns....

[2] Obviously the term is used in a range of meanings - possibly too large a range for it to mean anything other than some vague approval. But let's pretend for a moment that it's more useful if it does mean something.

[3] ObWikipedia

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Bronze badge

The only problems I can see with this are:

1. There is a massive bit of plastic blocking your side vision

2. The main uses for this involve activity and I would be worried about plastic bits in my eyes when falling from a bike/mountain/snowboard/etc.

3. It probably won't work as well as we all hope. I'm an optimist but can't see this being all that smooth

4. Battery life will be hopeless because this requires the internet to be useful

5. They have made it in several colours, none of which are named after a colour. If you want to be Apple, start with usability and a use-case rather than a cool tech idea, not with a colour scheme!

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Anonymous Coward

1: Many people have glasses with quite thick frames, and it does not seem to bother them. And while riding a snowboard, they often have those huge-ass ski goggles obstructing far more their vision…

2: Compared to real glasses, does not really seem any more dangerous to me?

4: IIRC, it does not have 3G; you have to tether it through your phone. The battery life was supposed to be 6 hours, but maybe they got it up since. It is a shame, but I guess they needed them to be ultra-light.

5: Talking about Apple, the use-case for the iPhone has considerably evolved since the first model came out (remember the HTML-only third-party apps?) Right now, it seems that the use-case for Glass is mostly taking pictures and videos, but I guess that's why they are allowing Joe Public to play with it and try to come up with ideas…

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Pint

Google glass is innovative. Really, genuinely innovative.

No effing wonder the best Microsoft can do is just look on green with envy, whilst sniping childish jealous taunts. The last innovative thing to come from them was their CEO's comedy furniture rearrangement antics.

I can hear the photocopiers in Cupertino starting up, too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google glass is innovative. Really, genuinely innovative.

It's the integration of things that already exist, though. Heads up display, augmented vision (available on any platform in a gazillion apps), large dollops of hype well before launch (which was, ironically, perfected by that other company you mentioned as a tactic to spoil the market).

I was the first person in the UK to have eyes lasered for both the "standard" correction as well as astigmatism in one go, and I have enjoyed the freedom (although I'm reading for reading glasses), I'm not very inclined to put something like that on my nose, also because it has a far higher potential to be abused as the first physical implementation of "Streetview at home" cameras.

There is also that potential another commentard mentioned: you walk around with a sharp edged device right in front of your eye ball. What happens when airbag meets Google glass?

On the upside, I can see this possibly help with high tech work where you could get extra data mirrored in. Imagine working on some electronics where you have scope and DMM mirrored into view as you work, or even part of the schematics. Surgery with Xray and CT scan data in place would be cool too (although sterilising the device is probably not going to work), but both require a high degree of positional awareness and are typically not done in a place where you get any sort of GPS signal.

I'm conservative with tech, so I'll let them get on with it - I'll wait. Not in a hurry at all..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google glass is innovative. Really, genuinely innovative.

Really shortsighted view from ElReg (pun intended there). I can see so many innovative uses for this sort of this.

I'm really excited by Project Glass, and will predict that in 5 years time, this sort of wear will be commonplace.

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Skeptical

"Some of Google's ideas for the glasses look promising, but here at El Reg we're taking a skeptical line."

"We" ? What, you mean Alistair Dabbs saying "I don't like wearing things" a few times ? Incisive.

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Re: Skeptical

Didn't he write another article recently about how he disliked wearing a watch?

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Yeah

How does this work with prescription specs?

And no, I'm not having my eyes done either. More people die from surgery than from not having it (oh, OK, that's not exactly and completely true but I'm sticking with it).

"I love my glasses and frankly if I woke up with perfect vision tomorrow, I'd still wear them."

Not entirely sure about that. But if I did wake up with perfect vision tomorrow then how would I be able to show my desire to ignore things (TV, soap operas, ballet, whatever) by taking off my now non-existent glasses?

Or, indeed, being able to show my interest in (say, a fine frigate and or postillion) by making sure that the subject being visualised was aware of the visualisation?

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Re: Yeah

Mind you, the Glasses could come in handy ...

... at least you'd have a permanent record if the postillion you were viewing was suddenly struck by lightning.

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Re: Yeah

"How does this work with prescription specs?" - at the moment it probably doesn't but, I don't imagine it would be difficult to adjust the thingummydoodah to compensate for different focal lengths etc. or later on even be incorporated in prescription glasses in some inobtrusive manner...

"Or, indeed, being able to show my interest in (say, a fine frigate and or postillion) by making sure that the subject being visualised was aware of the visualisation?" - slack jawed drooling like the rest of us?!

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They all laughed at Christopher Columbus....

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@Derek Acorah

Yeah, but that was more to do with his funny walk than what specs he wore.

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142

they all laughed alright...

But about what? It was his claim that he could create a cheaper trade route to India by sailing west.

They're still laughing, Derek! ;-)

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Re: they all laughed alright...

Having said this... it does lead me to wonder... Google's trying to find a better way to sell ads (Mr C's better route to India) ...... so what is going to be Google's New World, I wonder...

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Re: they all laughed alright...

Google's trying to find a better way to sell ads (Mr C's better route to India) ...... so what is going to be Google's New World, I wonder

Probably an automatic refusal for health insurance cover for people with facial injuries because they couldn't see the road for ads..

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Happy

@Derek

"They all laughed at Christopher Columbus...."

And he told you this though your Spirit Guide, Tontohontas?

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Anonymous Coward

Not happy with the change. The original design had text/graphics etc over your full field of vision now if it's just in one corner it means the one feature I thought would be massively popular won't be possible.

When I originally saw the video previews last year I thought there would be a great market in skins to overlay the people you are looking at. Would make the morning commute more fun if everyone looked like smurfs or Simpsons characters or my own personal favourite nude Kelly Brook. Maybe I just didn't understand the limitations of the technology.

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Meh

That video was never the "original design". It was just a concept video to market the idea, never a real product. Everything about it was fake.

Actually even this one is again only a concept video, for example there's no way they are "darkening" a region of your vision when the only thing they have in the glasses is to project light. Real use is again not going to anythng like these videos.

I do wish they would be a more honest with what the device actually does, rather than create all this hype based on concepts, not real products. But Google is an advertising company..

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142

darkening can be done

Have semi transparent mirror. You could make something with adjustable transparency either...

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Patent infrigement alert!

Hold on a minute, weren't augmented reality glasses invented by Karl Pilkington?

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=8y-vJr1mxYY

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Pah!

Paeans of praise should be limited to 50 words or less, with a limit of five pictures and 15 seconds of video, and should be posted on Google+ or Twitter with the hashtag #ifihadglass.

Pah! I'd rather slit my own throat!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pah!

I hope they will get buried under an avalanche of parodies. I dislike a company artificially trying to drum up viral exposure by rigging the trending. I bet the search results for Google glass will also be a tad unbelievable - who's going to check?

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Re: Pah!

It's particularly grim that not only do you have to sing for your supper, but even if you've given Google such brilliant free publicity that they select you as a winner, you still have to fucking pay for the goodies! What kind of competition is it where the prize is nothing. Oh except we'll generously let you buy our stuff at 'early-adopter' prices.

On the other hand, it's certainly an interesting toy, that could be very useful, but how am I going to be able to use it, when I need reading glasses? Are you looking at a tiny screen that's got a magnifier, or is it projecting light across the glasses? I've never been quite clear on that.

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Alien

The last Sunday while hiking in the Pinnacles National Park in California I was puzzled to see a young lady hiking in the opposite direction wearing the aforementioned device. Probably communicating with the mother ship. They are among us!

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Puzzled?

You were puzzled by someone walking the other way wearing glasses?

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Meh

What goes around...

What I love is the way the usual suspects start ranting on about how great it is because it's Linux... never mind the fact that it's Google's financial muscle powering this - the same Google who people are beginning to question the practices of in much the same way as happened to Microsoft some years ago.

Yes, through Google we may well see Linux on the desktop as a mainstream thing in a few years time - but at what cost to its principles?

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Terminator

Aftermarket Opportunity

Muggers are going to love them, however – you’re walking around with the value of a MacBook Pro on your face that can be easily snatched

I can imagine Otterbox or Griffin coming up with something for that ... something like a motorcycle crash helmet with padlocks.

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JDX
Gold badge

Can smart glasses replace regular ones?

Forget fitting them with regular lenses... can augmented reality specs potentially adapt to your eyes and act as 'perfect' lenses? Even measure your eyes and automate the correction?

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Meh

Muggers are going to love them ...

In Bangkok, the bar girls outside on the sidewalk get 'volunteers' to join them in the bar by snatching peoples glasses.

A simple 'granny' cord, bought at a sports store, slipped over the ends of the temple tips (arms of a frame), stops all but the most aggressive troll.

Should work well on Google Glasses, too.

The MS glasses might have larger viewing areas but the contrast between the real scene, in front of the wearer, and the superimposed images will be tricky at times.

Wonder what Apple is dreaming of?

Oakley glasses are massive with all sorts of junk hanging off the temples.

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Bronze badge

The general concept is nice. Now if we can get them to accept input from various data sources this will get interesting. Say using a protocoll like Miracast. That way the unit can replace a smartphone by connecting to the 3G or LTE equiped tablet / notebook in the attache case during the way to/from work or similar situations and get the needed data into your field of vision, use voice for the typical minor tasks and you are good. At work you switch the full sized unit on the glasses go off or act as a "messenger" display (1)

And phones can go back to small, extremly long duration units.

(1)"You've got mail" or for the female computer security expert the Spider Murphy version "You've got a male"

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Anonymous Coward

They missed the most obvious use.. "Glass, video the money shot"

I can't wait for all the new pov pron..

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FAIL

Oh nice.. I'll be in that....

Oh wait. You have to be a Google Plus user, or a Twit.

Oh, and you also need to live in the US of A.

I guess my Australian dollars will stay in my (non Google) wallet then.

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