About 10,000 people are testing Google Glass—glasses designed to function much like smartphones.
Chris Barrett loved doing things online while driving without having to touch his phone. Sarah Hill was amazed when she realized she could continue an online video call hands-free while picking up her luggage at the airport. Deborah Lee was thrilled to take a photo with a voice command of her baby giggling while she tickled—impossible with a hand-held camera or phone.
Some of the shortcomings reported by a few of the testers, however, include short battery life and unclear sound.
“If you are out in the street or anywhere else where there is any noise, it’s impossible to hear,” Lee said. “That has been challenging because there is no way to adjust it. If you could adjust the sound, I think it would solve a lot of problems.”
The battery is meant to last a full day, but while recording a lot of video footage, some users found the batter lasted only 90 minutes or so.
A less serious flaw—strange looks from passersby. Lee said: “So I carried on a conversation through the airport and people were staring at me like, ‘What is that thing on your face?'”
Tech Live notes that Google Glass will not likely have a cellular radio allowing it to connect to mobile phone networks as the cellular radio would consume a lot of battery power—but Lee was able to talk to friends in a video chat on Google Hangout. Google Glass will eventually be able to run local apps, Glass creator Babak Parviz told a conference at Stanford University on Monday, according to Tech Live.
Barrett, who spoke to Venture Beat about his Glass experience, finds the ability to drive and surf the Internet simultaneously comparable to using a hands-free device to talk while driving. Yet some may argue it is unsafe.
Venture Beat points out UK regulators are looking to ban the use of Google Glass while driving. The state of Virginia also opened a discussion on the safety implications of wearing Glass while driving.
“I really feel that Google Glass will save lives,” Barrett told Venture Beat. “I hope it comes in under Bluetooth and wireless headsets. … I don’t see this as being any different than an on-windshield display that auto manufacturers have been putting in cars for years.” He said it prevented him from handling his phone while in the car.
The information is shown on a thumbnail-sized transparent screen attached just above the right eye to stay out of a user’s field of vision.
At the Stanford conference on Monday, many audience members asked Parviz about the privacy concerns associated with Glass. Some worry people will be able to record others or take photos of others in public too discreetly. Mark Hachman of Tech Live writes: “Parviz slid by the question, noting that in the late 1880s the rise of portable cameras prompted concerns that anyone would take a picture of another person in a public place, something that is legal under U.S. law.”
Parviz said, “The user will have to have some judgement.”
Chris Barrett Drives With Google Glass
The Associated Press contributed to this report.