Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Glassy Times

It is exciting times in the wearable smartglass area. This week we've had +Samsung USA announce that they will be coming out this September with their +Google Glass competitor, Galaxy Glass, and +Google Glass just released their new stylish and prescription framed models. According to +Heather Kelly at +CNN, Google is now offering four light weight titanium framed models for $225 each and three new active wear twist-on lenses for $150 each. The ability to customize and twist on different lenses, or even unscrew and change the frame will make them considerably more versatile, stylish and natural. Awesome move. I am looking forward to the coming customizable, wearable, high-tech fashion, +MAKE generation. Still no news however on when Google will be releasing the 3rd generation Google Glasses to the masses at a much lower price.

One of the things that I would definitely modify if I were one of the +Google Glass product managers is the prompt screen. Google should not only include the date in the 3rd Generation model, but something much more rich in data like the homescreen/notifications windows of our smartphones. I would add a small battery icon and the city/GPS location in the bottom corners, and messages, social media notifications and +Google Now Alerts all along the top of the screen. An automatic scrolling through these pages, notifications and apps until selecting might also be nice. When screen projection capabilities develop so that we can increase the screen size and even project it on walls, the data enrichment of the homescreen will become even more relevant.

The new Google "gaze tracking system" will speed-up functionality and completely change the whole UI/UX, though I'll be curious to see if Google actually incorporates it in the next generation model. It will be super cool when we can just focus for a few seconds on whatever we would like to open or further read/learn/interact with, though I am not sure if the technology is there yet, or for that matter, if people are really ready for it. This technology will open up a whole new box of intimacy and openness with our smartdevices, and further erode previous conceptions of the word privacy. When Samsung released the +Samsung Galaxy S IV with it's new eye detection technology, it was a big bang in the press, though I haven't heard much about it since. From the feedback I received it seemed to act erratically and be hard to maneuver/control. However, Glass Explorer +Brandyn White describes in his blog a current Glass hack enabling pupil detection for gaming.

Additionally, from the 3rd Generation +Google Glass prompt screen we should be able to voice command it into any of those icons/apps/notifications. When we initially respond to it by saying "ok glass," the time, (date), and "ok glass" prompt should disappear and it should then open up into a further detailed/rich smartglass home/notification screen. All of the screens from the prompt all the way back to and including the "settings" should be voice command accessible in and/or visible from this homescreen.

As the movie +Her Movie Official Channel indicates, we are at the point of interacting with personal smart-devices so much that we would like not only to personify them, but might even fall in love. Customization and open platforms will be key characteristics to the success of wearables and future products. I look forward to the day when we can not only change the glass prompt or name from "ok glass" to "ok Scarlet" for example, but change our device name at any time in the My Glass application. Additionally, we should be able to reprogram the voice command operating system with key words to perform all the basic Glass functions - picture, video, send, and share. One example of how this would really come in handy is if we were at a birthday party and programmed it to take a picture every time you or someone else said "happy birthday." This would create an awesome birthday album and one could even make a fun game out of it if you could modify the microphone settings to background and/or local sound.

Blinklifier - Beauty Technology

In the future, not only will all our smart-enabled wearable devices and fashionables be connected, but they will be connected to all of our smarthome and smartcity IoT devices. Being able to touch your smartwatch, smartring, smartnecklace etc. to get your glass into prompt mode and/or perform basic commands will be one of the next big wearable trends. +Katia Canepa Vega, Founder of Beauty Technology, is one of the young entrepreneurs thinking of innovative ways to use sensors and technology in a fashionable way. This type of technology along with 3D printers connected to our smartdevices will make life very interesting and get us even closer to the future of instantaneous manifestation, to which we are heading. The currently seen "erosion of privacy" is part of the fundamental process in our evolution as conscious beings to this next stage of existence so that we do not per say manifest "The Marshmallow Man." The smartglass and wearable era will continue to transform the debate of privacy, data and the share movement, and even redefine what it means to be human.

The Marshmallow Man - Ghostbusters

In the 3rd Generation +Google Glass I would also like to see the following apps: +Foursquare +Instagram +LinkedIn  Facebook Messenger (at least), +Pinterest and Tumblr (at least sharing at first ). Additionally, while the +YouTube app makes posting videos to your page really easy, currently we can only play videos while we should also be able to share and send them as well. I will review the current Glass apps in more detail in my next post.

The 3rd and 4th Generation Google Glasses should be all about geo-locational augmented reality information, apps, and networks. Some new social networks such as Circle and Highlight, and the more established networks like +Foursquare and Twitter will bring interesting locational awareness that we have previously never experienced. Being able to receive notifications about who is around us in our networks and extended networks, and see their face, name, location, and distance will completely change the way we interact and behave. When engaging with the locational people notifications, we should be taken to a feed of their most recent activity on all their main social media accounts. For example, one could easily hack a program to scour all the social media accounts that someone has linked to their Klout, or Google+ pages to draw up a feed of their most recent activity. I would also like to know when a lot of my friends are checking into any local place, be notified if many tweets are going out locally with a common hash/theme/place/etc. 

Another simple thing that I might change on the "ok glass" screen is just indicating prompt mode with lights and color rather than words. For some reason this just seems much more high-tech and by switching between various different color modes you could place it in different command prompts. Additionally, in the ever expanding interconnected global economy, a product that can be easily operable across-borders, with a simple universally understood UI and UX will be essential to mass market success and adoption.

Currently the audio notifications are extremely limited on +Google Glass. I cannot tell the difference between receiving a text, news notification or social media notification. We should likewise be able to customize the sound alert notifications within the My Glass app. Furthermore, when receiving a notification and hearing the chime, you can voice prompt the glass by saying "ok glass." However, when doing so we are only presented with two options: read aloud and reply. While the glass is in read mode you can usually interrupt it by saying "ok glass" again, but the voice detection seems to time out after ten seconds or so. If having Glass read a long news article or something, then one must tap to wake back up into prompt mode to stop it or place another command. Additionally, when Glass is reading something and you stop it in the middle by saying "ok glass," you are only presented with the one and only option again - "read aloud." I do not know why the Google engineers did not program the basic commands of "ok glass, stop" and "ok glass, go back" into the first generation model.

While I have since figured that Glass automatically capitalizes after punctuation ending a sentence, I have not figured out how to capitalize at the beginning of a text message. Additionally, recently when trying to share a pic on Twitter, I was unable to make Glass spell out 702; it kept turning it into 70 2 or 700 2. I'm not sure exactly why for voice recognition of numbers usually works very well. I tried probably about 10x.

I don't know how long it takes to get approved but you can now sign up to be a part of the Google Glass Explorer program on the website.

Stay tuned for more news and info about my #throughglass experience.

Sarah Slocum
Founder, I Love Social Media, Inc.