Linking up to Mobile Devices

When I first got Glass I was attaching it to an iPhone to see how the linkages would work. However, I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be doing much with the iPhone because a) I couldn’t download the MyGlass app (Android only) ¬†and b) I wasn’t about to give up my unlimited data plan from AT&T just so I could enable tethering. As a result, up till now most of my experiments with Glass have relied on wireless.

One thing you can do is hook glass to a phone and use it as a glorified bluetooth headset. Since I only have a few contacts in my Glass’s special login I can only call a few people this way, but given my non-use of the voice call feature on my phone anyway this isn’t much of an issue. I did get a call from someone when I was testing, however, and had the interesting experience of hearing the caller buzz their works into my skull via the headset. This works ok in a quiet setting but I’m not sure how effective it would be for a call of more than a few moments duration in a louder environment. But I don’t really use bluetooth headsets in general, relying on speaker for those moments in the car, etc. when I need to take a call.

Sidenote: I really can’t imagine it is a good idea to drive with this thing. Some auto manufacturer is already building cars with Glass support built in. Really? This seems like a profoundly bad idea.

Anyway, various circumstances have led to my purchasing a Nexus phone running the Android OS. This will lead to new adventures. One thing I have already learned is that the MyGlass app isn’t readily available abroad. If you do have it, I don’t think you could consider it reliable. ¬†Today I tried to get directions to a store in Venice, Italy. Glass gave me results for a noodle place in Tokyo. Sadly, it couldn’t provide driving directions (the default). Even more sadly, that place looked tasty!

Social Factors

Using Glass almost immediately creates anxiety in the people around me. Perhaps because of recent news events, people seem to be newly aware of surveillance culture, and how a device like this plays into larger social changes. Of course this has been true for a long time, and part of my own motivation for becoming a Glass Explorer was to see how and what such devices can do, how covertly, etc. Of course the other side of that is an intensely geeky desire to try it out and play and see what kinds of new experiences the device makes possible.

One of the most interesting potential features is, I think, the ability to host a hangout with Glass, where I as the glass user am broadcasting to my online buddies in real time through the Google Hangout function. So far my attempts to do this have been limited to forays around the yard with my own laptop as the recipient of my video gems, but I have hopes to pursue this feature further to see what we can do with it.

I have mixed feelings about how visible using this device makes me. Initially I wanted to be careful about not hiding my activities in principle – fair warning to all and sundry that I could be recording. However, the headset is so noticeable that now I wish it could be a little less obtrusive. Walking down the street strangers approach me. In coffee shops wearing the device invites conversation. While I suppose I could make some new friends this way, it isn’t ideal, especially in urban environments where anonymity is somewhat desirable.

Shooting Video

Shooting Video in Glass is interesting in part because the default expectation is that each clip will be 10 seconds. I imagine this is partly to preserve power and memory, and perhaps also to assuage fears that people will sneak Glass into the movie theater or something. One can extend the recording time beyond the initial 10 seconds with a strategically timed tap.

My experience with video thus far has been that, as for images, the video itself is by default very high contrast and somewhat surreal looking because of the way the focus seems to be relatively undifferentiated on the screen. Extracting video masterpieces from the device is a bit of a challenge in that you need to download all your media elements in a special process in order to get to the files outside of the google plus environment.

As I’ve said to friends before, Glass could be seen in some ways as an elaborate justification for using google plus, which is something I really haven’t dug into thus far. Which is probably good, since I don’t necessarily want all my experiments being published out to a huge number of users.

Taking Pictures

One of the easiest to use features of Google Glass is the capability to take images. One can do this either by saying “OK Glass…Take a picture” or by stealthily tapping the sidepiece of the device. There’s a strange effect that occurs when you try to take an image. My tendency is to want to use the display screen as a viewfinder – but it is not. The field of view for the camera is much closer to what you are actually seeing with your eyes, not what you focus on through the little screen. This can be somewhat confusing, as you can get extra bits you perhaps didn’t intend to include in the image. Philosophically I suppose this makes sense, as the device is meant as something you’d wear all the time and begin to naturalize as an extension of vision.

Perhaps a side effect of this is some interesting distortions. I’ll need to fiddle around with the images a bit more to determine what exactly is happening there, but the distortions are especially noticeable up close. Perhaps I’ll update this post with some comparative images taken with a smartphone and Glass. (Might be interesting to see how iPhone and Google phone compare to Glass in this regard as well.)