Internet and social media giant Google created quite a splash when it started showing off prototypes of its wearable computer headpiece, Google Glass.
Google has already released the developer’s version of the device to 8,000 winners around the world including upstate company Red Bottle Design. Red Bottle is now setting out to develop apps for the product ahead of its commercial release. And yes, they had to pay for the privilege.
Earlier this year winners of the ‘If I Had Glass’ competition were invited to pay $1,500 to get their hands on the developing technology.
Needless to say, most of them did.
Developers are hoping that the wearable technology of Google Glass will eventually become as integral to everyday life as current cellphones.
And, Red Bottle Design CEO Guy Paddock says they want to help create a device that’s there when you want it, but never intrudes.
“Rather than it being like, oh something’s happening right now, I’m going to take myself out of the moment, grab my phone and take a picture of record something, it’s kind of just there, it’s ubiquitous. It’s there when you need it, it’s not in your way when you don’t need it.”
Considering that the screen sits not only on your face, but also in your field of vision, it might seem like a tough job to make this technology an inconspicuous tool for everyday life.
But, Red Bottle lead developer Brad Elsmore says the way the unit is designed makes it less intrusive than you might think at first glance.
“The cool thing about it is it’s actually not intrusive to your vision. If you look at it you can see it, but if you’re just looking at various things in front of you it’s just there but you don’t really see it so it’s not actually an intrusive interface.”
Elsmore and his co-workers have several ideas for applications for the device already.
Among them is an app that would connect Google Glass users to a professional network of people who could provide advice on just about anything - from buying a car to caring for a newborn baby.
“There would be an app that you could say ‘ok glass, connect me with someone who can help me with this particular thing’ and it would try to see if someone in the professional network could help you with that and they could actually just video conference with you with Google Glass and be right there and see what you see,” says Red Bottle CEO Guy Paddock.
He says the ability to be able to share your experiences through the technology, essentially in real-time, offers many possibilities for the development of innovative applications.
The idea that made Red Bottle Design one of the winners of the ‘If I Had Glass’ competition is based around that specific ability.
Paddock says they’d like to create a news app that allows people in a similar location to share what’s going on around them in order to create a narrative that can be accessed by journalists and citizens alike.
It would provide an instantaneous commentary similar to Twitter, but easier to follow and verify because you would see what others see through their Google Glass, and hear what they hear.
“The minimally viable product would be something that every day people could use just to find out what’s going on around them. And then the next stage would be, maybe there’d be a system or a server for journalists to log into and say ok, what’s going on and see it on a map or something and kind of see what stories are happening and see what kind of content people are submitting to get a sense of what’s going on.”
But, Paddock says, it all costs money. And Red Bottle is currently looking for the funding to help get their ideas off the ground.
They’ve essentially got free reign with the device to create whatever software they want, and the chance to help shape the nature of wearable technology is a big step for the young business, he says.
“The sky’s the limit. I mean, once we got the unit Google said, ‘you’re helping us shape this product and we want to see where you want to take it, we want to hear feedback from you on ways to improve it.’
However, there are a couple of no-go zones, says Paddock. Google has banned any apps that use facial recognition, or risk breaching privacy rules.
It may sound futuristic, but it wouldn’t be that hard to create an app that used face-detection and recognition software to pull up a person’s facebook or LinkdIn page on your Google Glass screen when you see them in the street, Paddock says.
But for now, people are content to use it in a simpler, less pervasive way.
Paddock says, of the people who received the developer’s version of the unit, parents are the ones who seemed to have enjoyed it the most. He says they use it for very simple functions like taking photos and video.
“Especially parents who have a newborn or a one year old are loving having this device,” he says.
“There are a lot of parents who are like ‘this is awesome because I can catch things as they happen, I can record first steps,’ or something like that.”
Paddock says his team is just as enthusiastic about the device, although for slightly different reasons.
Eventually, they hope to be behind some of the must-have software for Google Glass users when the product goes commercial – possibly as early as the end of the year.