Why you should take a closer look at (and through) Google Glass …

It’s a wearable computer with a head-mounted display (HMD) being developed by Google in the Project Glass research and development project that displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format that can interact with the Internet via natural language voice commands. While the frames do not currently have lenses fitted to them, Google is considering partnering with sunglass retailers such as Ray-Ban, and may also open retail stores to allow customers to try on the device. The Explorer Edition cannot be used by people who wear prescription glasses, but Google has confirmed that Glass will eventually work with frames and lenses that match the wearer’s prescription; the glasses will be modular and therefore possibly attachable to normal prescription glasses.

Wearable computing is not a new idea, but Google’s enormous bank account and can-do attitude means Project Glass could well be the first product to do significant numbers.

The core of Google Glass is its tiny prism display which sits not in your eyeline, but a little above it. You can see what is on the display by glancing up. The glasses also have an embedded camera, microphone, GPS and, reportedly, use bone induction to give you sound.

Voice control is used to control the device; you say “ok glass” to get a range of options including taking pictures, videos, send messages using speech to text, ‘hang out’ with people or get directions to somewhere. You access these options by saying them out loud.

Most of this functionality is self explanatory; hang out is Google’s video conferencing technology and allows you to talk to a people over web cam, and stream them what you are seeing and the directions use Google Maps and the inbuilt GPS to help you find your way.

The results are displayed on the prism – essentially putting data into your view like a head up display (HUD). It’s potentially incredibly handy. Also rather nifty is the potential for automatic voice and speech recognition.

People are already developing some rather cool apps for Google Glass – including one that allows you to identify your friends in a crowd, and another that allows you to dictate an email.

And at this year’s SXSW conference in Austin (which, unfortunatley, our Charlotte ad agency wasn’t able to attend this year), Google revealed a number of apps it’s developing, including a New York Times app that will provide a headline, byline, and image to the tiny screen embedded in the Google Glass lens.

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