Google Glass

Google Glass, or simply Glass, is a brand of smart glasses—an optical head-mounted display designed in the shape of a pair of eyeglasses. It was developed by X (previously Google X)[9] with the mission of producing a ubiquitous computer.[1] Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like, hands-free format.[10] Wearers communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands.[11][12]

Google started selling a prototype of Google Glass to qualified "Glass Explorers" in the US on April 15, 2013, for a limited period for $1,500, before it became available to the public on May 15, 2014.[13] It had an integral 5 megapixel still/720p video camera. The headset received a great deal of criticism amid concerns that its use could violate existing privacy laws.[14]

On January 15, 2015, Google announced that it would stop producing the Google Glass prototype, to be continued in 2017 tentatively.[15] In July 2017, Google announced the Google Glass Enterprise Edition.[16] In May 2019, Google announced the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2.[17]

Google Glass was developed by Google X,[18] the facility within Google devoted to technological advancements such as driverless cars.[19]

The Google Glass prototype resembled standard eyeglasses with the lens replaced by a head-up display.[20] In mid-2011, Google engineered a prototype that weighed 8 pounds (3.6 kg);[21] by 2013 they were lighter than the average pair of sunglasses.[1]

In April 2013, the Explorer Edition was made available to Google I/O developers in the United States for $1,500.[22]

The product was publicly announced in April 2012.[23] Sergey Brin wore a prototype of the Glass to an April 5, 2012, Foundation Fighting Blindness event in San Francisco.[24][25] In May 2012, Google demonstrated for the first time how Google Glass could be used to shoot videos.[26]

Google provided four prescription frame choices for $225 and free with the purchase of any new Glass unit. Google entered in a partnership with the Italian eyewear company Luxottica, owners of the Ray-Ban, Oakley, and other brands, to offer additional frame designs.[27] In June 2014, Nepal government adopted Google Glass for tackling poachers of wild animals and herbs of Chitwan International Park and other parks listed under World heritage sites. In January 2015, Google ended the beta period of Glass (the "Google Glass Explorer" program).[28][29]

In early 2013, interested potential Glass users were invited to use a Twitter message, with hashtag #IfIHadGlass, to qualify as an early user of the product. The qualifiers, dubbed "Glass Explorers" and numbering 8,000 individuals, were notified in March 2013, and were later invited to pay $1,500 and visit a Google office in Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco, to pick up their unit following "fitting" and training from Google Glass guides. On May 13, 2014, Google announced a move to a "more open beta", via its Google Plus page.[30]

In February 2015, The New York Times reported that Google Glass was being redesigned by former Apple executive Tony Fadell, and that it would not be released until he deemed it to be "perfect".[31]

In July 2017, it was announced that the second iteration, the Google Glass Enterprise Edition, would be released in the US for companies such as Boeing.[16] Google Glass Enterprise Edition has already been successfully used by Dr. Ned Sahin to help children with autism learn social skills.[32]

In May 2019, Google announced the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2. Google also announced a partnership with Smith Optics to develop Glass-compatible safety frames.[17]

Google Glass can be controlled using the touchpad built into the side of the device

Google Glass applications are free applications built by third-party developers. Glass also uses many existing Google applications, such as Google Now, Google Maps, Google+, and Gmail. Many developers and companies built applications for Glass, including news apps, facial recognition, exercise, photo manipulation, translation, and sharing to social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.[39][40][41] Third-party applications announced at South by Southwest (SXSW) include Evernote, Skitch, The New York Times, and Path.[42]

On March 23, 2013, Google released the Mirror API, allowing developers to start making apps for Glass.[43][44] In the terms of service, it was stated that developers may not put ads in their apps or charge fees;[45] a Google representative told The Verge that this might change in the future.[46]

On May 16, 2013, Google announced the release of seven new programs, including reminders from Evernote, fashion news from Elle, and news alerts from CNN.[47] Following Google's XE7 Glass Explorer Edition update in early July 2013, evidence of a "Glass Boutique", a store that will allow synchronization to Glass of Glassware and APKs, was noted.[48]

Version XE8 made a debut for Google Glass on August 12, 2013. It brings an integrated video player with playback controls, the ability to post an update to Path, and lets users save notes to Evernote. Several other minute improvements include volume controls, improved voice recognition, and several new Google Now cards.

On November 19, 2013, Google unveiled its Glass Development Kit, showcasing the translation tool Word Lens, the cooking program AllTheCooks, and the exercise program Strava among others as successful examples.[49][50] Google announced three news programs in May 2014—TripIt, FourSquare and OpenTable—in order to entice travelers. On June 25, 2014, Google announced that notifications from Android Wear would be sent to Glass.[51]

The European University Press published the first book to be read with Google Glass on October 8, 2014, as introduced at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The book can be read as a normal paper book or—enriched with multimedia elements—with Google Glass, Kindle, on Smartphone and Pads on the platforms iOS and Android.[52]

Google offered a companion Android and iOS app called MyGlass, which allowed the user to configure and manage the device. It was removed on February 22, 2020 from the Play Store. [53]

Other than the touchpad, Google Glass can be controlled using just "voice actions". To activate Glass, wearers tilt their heads 30° upward (which can be altered for preference) or simply tap the touchpad, and say "O.K., Glass." Once Glass is activated, wearers can say an action, such as "Take a picture", "Record a video", "Hangout with [person/Google+ circle]", "Google 'What year was Wikipedia founded?'", "Give me directions to the Eiffel Tower", and "Send a message to John"[54] (many of these commands can be seen in a product video released in February 2013).[55] For search results that are read back to the user, the voice response is relayed using bone conduction through a transducer that sits beside the ear, thereby rendering the sound almost inaudible to other people.[56]

Augmedix developed an app for the wearable device that allows physicians to live-stream the patient visit and claims it will eliminate electronic health record problems, possibly saving them up to 15 hours a week[57] and improving record quality. The video stream is passed to remote scribes in HIPAA secure rooms where the doctor-patient interaction is transcribed. Ultimately, allowing physicians to focus on the patient. Hundreds of users[58] were evaluating the app as of mid-2015.[59]

In July 2013, Lucien Engelen commenced research on the usability and impact of Google Glass in the health care field. As of August 2013, Engelen, based at Singularity University and in Europe at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, was the first healthcare professional in Europe to participate in the Glass Explorer program.[60] His research on Google Glass (starting August 9, 2013) was conducted in operating rooms, ambulances, a trauma helicopter, general practice, and home care as well as the use in public transportation for visually or physically impaired. Research included taking pictures, videos streaming to other locations, dictating operative log, having students watch the procedures and tele-consultation through Hangout. Engelen documented his findings in blogs,[61] videos,[62] pictures, on Twitter,[63] and on Google+,[64] with research ongoing as of that date.

In June 2014, Google Glass' ability to acquire images of a patient's retina ("Glass Fundoscopy") was publicly demonstrated for the first time at the Wilmer Clinical Meeting at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine by Dr. Aaron Wang and Dr. Allen Eghrari.[65] This technique was featured on the cover of the Journal for Mobile Technology in Medicine for January 2015.[66] Doctors Phil Haslam and Sebastian Mafeld demonstrated the first application of Google Glass in the field of interventional radiology. They demonstrated how Google Glass could assist a liver biopsy and fistulaplasty, and the pair stated that Google Glass has the potential to improve patient safety, operator comfort, and procedure efficiency in the field of interventional radiology.[67]

In 2015, IOS Press published "Clinical and Surgical Applications of Smart Glasses" a research article written by a team at the Columbia University Medical Center Department of Neurosurgery's Cerebrovascular Laboratory. Under Neurosurgeon Dr. Sander E. Connolly, Stefan Mitrasinovic, Elvis Camacho, Nirali Trivedi, and others analyzed Google Glass's useful applications including hands-free photo and video documentation, telemedicine, Electronic Health Record retrieval and input, rapid diagnostic test analysis, education, and live broadcasting.[68]

In 2017, Swiss researchers assessed in a randomized controlled trial the adherence of emergency team leaders to the American Heart Association's (AHA) Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) guidelines by adapting and displaying them in Google Glasses during simulation-based pediatric cardiac arrest scenarios.[69]

On June 20, 2013, Rafael J. Grossmann, a Venezuelan doctor practicing in the U.S., was the first surgeon to demonstrate the use of Google Glass during a live surgical procedure.[70] In August 2013, Google Glass was used at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University. Surgeon Dr. Christopher Kaeding used Google Glass to consult with a distant colleague in Columbus, Ohio. A group of students at The Ohio State University College of Medicine also observed the operation on their laptop computers. Following the procedure, Kaeding stated, "To be honest, once we got into the surgery, I often forgot the device was there. It just seemed very intuitive and fit seamlessly."[71]

On June 21, 2013, Spanish doctor Pedro Guillen, chief of trauma service of Clínica CEMTRO of Madrid, also broadcast a surgery using Google Glass.[72] In July 2014, the startup company Surgery Academy, in Milan, Italy, launched a remote training platform for medical students. The platform is a MOOC that allows students to join any operating theater thanks to Google Glass worn by surgeon.[73][74] Also in July 2014, This Place released an app, MindRDR, to connect Glass to a Neurosky EEG monitor to allow people to take photos and share them to Twitter or Facebook using brain signals. It is hoped this will allow people with severe physical disabilities to engage with social media.[75]

In Australia, during January 2014, Melbourne tech startup Small World Social collaborated with the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) to create the first hands-free breastfeeding Google Glass application for new mothers.[76] The application, named Google Glass Breastfeeding app trial, allows mothers to nurse their baby while viewing instructions about common breastfeeding issues (latching on, posture etc.) or call a lactation consultant via a secure Google Hangout, who can view the issue through the mother's Google Glass camera.[77]

The trial lasted 7 weeks, commencing on March 1 and ending on April 13, 2014.[78] There were five mothers and their newborn babies in the trial,[79] fifteen volunteer counselors from ABA, and seven project team members from Small World Social.[79][80] The counselors were located in five States across Australia.[81] The counselors were certified in lactation consultation,[82] and located as far from the mothers as Perth, Western Australia, 3,500 kilometres away.[81] While physically distant from the mothers, the counselors provided support using video calls with Google Glass, live on demand.[83]

According to media commentary, the breastfeeding project demonstrated the potential of wearable devices to provide ways for communities to deliver health and family support services across vast distances.[84][85] The demonstrated positive uses of such devices contrasted widespread criticism over privacy concerns which such devices.[84] An article in the motherboard magazine Vice stated, "Google Glass, whether warranted or not, endures its fair share of criticism, largely because a lot of initial use cases have been, well, kinda creepy. So it's great to instead see Glass being used for uniquely positive ends, as it is with the Australian Breastfeeding Association's Breastfeeding Support Project."[84] Other journalists and commentators also called the trial beneficial[86] and an innovative application wearable technologies.[87] Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist/presenter Penny Johnston of the Babytalk radio program remarked, "The Google Glass if you think about it, is perfect to coach someone in breast feeding: if you are holding or feeding a baby, imagine a camera mounted on your glasses and look down. There you have the world's best view for checking the baby's latch and your breastfeeding technique!"[87]

In May 2014, Small World Social and ABA won the Gold Questar Award in the Emerging Media: App section, for the Breastfeeding with Google Glass App.[88] In June 2014, Small World Social's Breastfeeding Support Project was awarded the Questar Best of Category Grand Prize For Emerging Media, which is given to the top 5% of entries.[89]

ABA is optimistic about the future of wearable technologies supporting their work. Small World Social is planning to commence a trial in the US in June 2014.[90]

Brain Power, LLC, is a neuroscience technology company located in Cambridge, MA. It is software that transformed Google Glass into the world's first wearable AI system for autism.[91][92][93][94] Brain Power was founded by Dr. Ned T. Sahin.[95] After years of research and clinical trials, Brain Power's Empowered Brain system was created to allow people with autism to teach themselves life skills crucial to self-sufficiency, e.g. emotion decoding, eye contact, language, social engagement, conversation skills, control of behaviors, etc. Orders for the Empowered Brain system were placed in 2018, during a crowdfunding campaign.[96]

In July 2019, a New York Times article featured 12-year-old Esaïe Prickett, a child with autism. The article describes Esaïe as the only one wearing Google glass as he sits in the living room with his mother, father and four older brothers. Esaïe's father Jeffrey Prickett said that Esaïe enjoys using iPad apps and watching DVDs and that it could help autistic children such as Esaïe understand emotions and engage in more direct ways with those around them.[97]

In 2014, Voice of America Television Correspondent Carolyn Presutti and VOA Electronics Engineer Jose Vega began a web project called VOA & Google Glass, which explored the technology's potential uses in journalism.[98] This series of news stories examined the technology's live reporting applications, including conducting interviews and covering stories from the reporter's point of view. On March 29, 2014, American a cappella group Pentatonix partnered with Voice of America when lead singer Scott Hoying wore Glass in the band's performance at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., during the band's worldwide tour—the first use of Glass by a lead singer in a professional concert.[99]

In the fall of 2014, The University of Southern California conducted a course called Glass Journalism, which explored the device's application in journalism.[100]

The WWF as of mid-2014 used Google Glass and UAVs to track various animals and birds in the jungle, which may be the first use of the device by a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO).[101]

In 2014, the International Olympic Committee Young Reporters program took Google Glass to the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games and put them on a number of athletes from different disciplines to explore novel point of view filmmaking.[102]

A visually impaired dancer, Benjamin Yonattan, used Google Glass to overcome his chronic vision condition. In 2015, Yonattan performed on the reality television program America's Got Talent.[103]

Concerns have been raised by various sources regarding the intrusion on privacy, and the etiquette and ethics of using the device in public and recording people without their permission.[104][105][106] Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, claims that Glass could be seen as a way to become even more isolated in public, but the intent was quite the opposite: Brin views checking social media as a constant "nervous tic", which is why Glass can notify the user of important notifications and updates and does not obstruct the line of sight.[107]

Additionally, there is controversy that Google Glass would cause security problems and violate privacy rights.[108][109][110] Organizations like the FTC Fair Information Practice work to uphold privacy rights through Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPS), which are guidelines representing concepts that concern fair information practice in an electronic marketplace.[111]

Privacy advocates are concerned that people wearing such eyewear may be able to identify strangers in public using facial recognition, or surreptitiously record and broadcast private conversations.[1] The "Find my Face" feature on Google+ functions to create a model of your face, and of people you know, in order to simplify tagging photos.[112] However, the only current app that can identify strangers is called MORIS (Mobile Offender Recognition and Identification System), and is a $3,000 iPhone app used by police officers.

Some companies in the US have posted anti-Google Glass signs in their establishments.[113][114] In July 2013, prior to the official release of the product, Stephen Balaban, co-founder of software company Lambda Labs, circumvented Google's facial recognition app block by building his own, non-Google-approved operating system. Balaban then installed face-scanning Glassware that creates a summary of commonalities shared by the scanned person and the Glass wearer, such as mutual friends and interests.[115] Also created was Winky, a program that allows a Google Glass user to take a photo with a wink of an eye, while Marc Rogers, a principal security researcher at Lookout, discovered that Glass can be hijacked if a user could be tricked into taking a picture of a malicious QR code, demonstrating the potential to be used as a weapon in cyberwarfare.[116]

In February 2013, a Google+ user noticed legal issues with Glass and posted in the Glass Explorers community about the issues, stating that the device may be illegal to use according to the current legislation in Russia and Ukraine, which prohibits use of spy gadgets that can record video, audio or take photographs in an inconspicuous manner.[117]

Concerns were also raised in regard to the privacy and security of Glass users in the event that the device is stolen or lost, an issue that was raised by a US congressional committee. As part of its response to the committee, Google stated that a locking system for the device is in development. Google also reminded users that Glass can be remotely reset.[48] Police in various states have also warned Glass wearers to watch out for muggers and street robbers.[118]

Lisa A. Goldstein, a freelance journalist who was born deaf, tested the product on behalf of people with disabilities and published a review on August 6, 2013. In her review, Goldstein states that Google Glass does not accommodate hearing aids and is not suitable for people who cannot understand speech. Goldstein also explained the limited options for customer support, as telephone contact was her only means of communication.[119]

Several facilities have banned the use of Google Glass before its release to the general public, citing concerns over potential privacy-violating capabilities. Other facilities, such as Las Vegas casinos, banned Google Glass, citing their desire to comply with Nevada state law and common gaming regulations that ban the use of recording devices near gambling areas.[120] On October 29, 2014, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) announced a ban on wearable technology including Google Glass, placing it under the same rules as mobile phones and video cameras.[121]

There have also been concerns over potential eye pain caused by users new to Glass.[122] These concerns were validated by Google's optometry advisor Dr. Eli Peli of Harvard, though he later partly backtracked due to the controversy that ensued from his remarks.[122][123][124]

Concerns have been raised by cyber forensics experts at the University of Massachusetts who have developed a way to steal smartphone and tablet passwords using Google Glass. The specialists developed a software program that uses Google Glass to track finger shadows as someone types in their password. Their program then converts the touchpoints into the keys they were touching, allowing them to catch the passcodes.[125]

Another concern regarding the camera application raises controversy to privacy. Some people are concerned about how the product has the capability of recording during events such as conversations. The device sets off a light to indicate that it is recording but many speculate that there will be an app to disable this.[126]

Concerns have also been raised on operating motor vehicles while wearing the device. On July 31, 2013 it was reported that driving while wearing Google Glass was likely to be banned in the UK, being deemed careless driving, therefore a fixed penalty offense, following a decision by the Department for Transport.[128]

In the US, West Virginia state representative Gary G. Howell introduced an amendment in March 2013 to the state's law against texting while driving that would include bans against "using a wearable computer with head mounted display". In an interview, Howell stated, "The primary thing is a safety concern, it [the glass headset] could project text or video into your field of vision. I think there's a lot of potential for distraction."[129]

In October 2013, a driver in California was ticketed for "driving with monitor visible to driver (Google Glass)" after being pulled over for speeding by a San Diego Police Department officer. The driver was reportedly the first to be fined for driving while wearing a Google Glass.[130] While the judge noted that "Google Glass fell under 'the purview and intent' of the ban on driving with a monitor", the case was thrown out of court due to lack of proof the device was on at the time.[131]

In November 2014, Sawyer et al., from the University of Central Florida and the US Air Force Research Laboratory, published the results of comparative study in a driving simulator. Subjects were asked to use either Google Glass or a smartphone-based messaging interface and were then interrupted with an emergency event. The Glass-delivered messages served to moderate but did not eliminate distracting cognitive demands. A potential passive cost to drivers merely wearing the Glass was also observed. Messaging using either device impaired driving as compared to driving without multi-tasking.[132]

In February 2014, a woman wearing Google Glass claimed she was verbally and physically assaulted at a bar in San Francisco after a patron confronted her while she was showing off the device, allegedly leading a man accompanying her to physically retaliate. Witnesses suggested that patrons were upset over the possibility of being recorded.[133]

Under the Google Glass terms of service for the Glass Explorer pre-public release program, it specifically states, "You may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person. If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google's authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty." Wired commented on this policy of a company claiming ownership of its product after it had been sold, saying: "Welcome to the New World, one in which companies are retaining control of their products even after consumers purchase them."[134] Others pointed out that Glass was not for public sale at all, but rather in private testing for selected developers, and that not allowing developers in a closed beta to sell to the public is not the same as banning consumers from reselling a publicly released device.[135]

For the developer Explorer units version 2, RAM was expanded to 2 GB and prescription frames were made available:

The Google Glass Enterprise Edition improves upon previous editions with the following[141]

The Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 improves upon previous editions with the following[35]