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Living with Google Glass
Ogilvy Labs Report
By William Harvey
If you haven’t heard of Google Glass – where’ve
you been the last 18 months?
Back in February ‘13 Google announced at their
I/O conference the prototype product ‘Google
Glass’ to the developer community and the world.
!‘Glass’ is a wearable piece of tech., built into a
pair of glasses, with a heads up display for the user
to see a screen. It allows users to access a selection
of applications and functions rather than having
to use a mobile device.
!Living with Glass
I have been living with Glass for over 2 weeks now.
I Have used it in meetings, commuting to work, at
events and even in the pub to try get an
understanding of how Glass could really ﬁt into
one’s daily life.
The ﬁrst mobile phones were seen as a luxury for
the select few, with people not able to see how they
would ﬁt in a person’s daily life. Now the mobile is
seen as a necessity, might this be the same for
glass? Jury’s still out to be honest…
!Living with glass meant an initial behavioural
change. In meetings or at events I would have
frequently taken my mobile out of my pocket to
glance at the emails I had received, or reminders
from my calendar.
With Glass, the ‘Glance’ feature meant all I had to
do was look to the top right and the screen gave
me an overview of what I have missed or needed
to attend to next. By swiping the device I was able
navigate menus without having to look down at
my mobile and so continue what I was doing.
!I also became very aware of people looking at me
when I was wearing it.
The standard Glass comes with a simple metal bar
frame with options to add additional frames or sun
glasses. The bold frames I’ve been using makes
wearing the device subtler and sit more naturally
on the face. Walking about with glass, more digital
savvy people frequently did a double take. The
majority of people didn’t really notice when I was
out and about. It’s on public transport or when
stationary for any period of time that you become
very conscious of people looking and pointing
(was heckled as a ‘Glasshole’ in the street.) But
there is indeed HUGE curiosity about the device,
to the extent that I was not able to go on any
journey outside without at least one person asking
if they could try it out.
!A debate I heard some time back
was if Google Glass was a Creative
or Consumption device. The two
sides of the argument were:
!Creation- Glass allows you to create a
range of content from photos,
Videos and even dictate replies to
emails. This allows users to generate
more content on the go, capture new
experiences and document more of
life through ease of use.
But this in turn might be seen as
watering down rich content and over
!Consumption – The other side in the
debate sees is it as a purely a content
consumption device, allowing users
easier access newspapers or emails
between tasks, watch YouTube
videos on the ﬂy. It claims that this
can help people utilise their time
better, allowing easy & quick access
to content that’s relevant. This has
its barriers however as Glass as yet,
has very limited input and
navigation control over the device, so
it can be a very long-winded
experience of a simple task that
could just as easily be accessed via
!My view, it started life as a creation
device allowing me to take notes in
meetings, capture photos and videos
when attending events and tweeting
hands free on the go. After 3 weeks
however, I’m moving towards seeing
it as a consumption device. Unless
you are living the life of extreme
sport there are only so many photos
of meetings you can take. Plus, as
more apps were launched, they
allowed me to create a more
personal news feed, so I’ve steered
towards the consumption view.
What can Glass do?
!There are a number of features that
come with Glass as standard out of the
box, as well as a wide range of
Glasswhere applications that have come
out from 3rd party developers to open
up further possibilities. Here are some
of the key features :
!Take a photo/Video
With Glass you are able to capture
photos as well as moving images, you
can then share on social media channels
or mail to contacts.
It gives a 1st person perspective of
experiences direct from the eyes of the
wearer, allowing content to be captured
and shared via social media.
Having used Glass a fair amount now,
the quick notiﬁcation on the go and
while in meetings feature for me is a real
winner. Smartphone notiﬁcation might
be a text, email, tweet, reminder, etc.,
requiring you to pull out your phone if I
need to do something.
With Glass, You receive a notiﬁcation
by a quick vibration behind the ear,
glance top right and the screen displays
a notiﬁcation overview, you can then
send quick reply using voice recognition
or switch to another device if you need
to do something more long form.
One practical (but some say
problematic…) function is the ability to
Google anything using your voice.
Saying ‘OK Glass’ ‘Google’ activation
voice command you can then search for
pretty much anything from the engine’s
database. The voice command is fairly
solid, but with this early developer
version it is conﬁgured more for
American accents than British, which
has cause some interesting searches..
One feature I have already found useful
is the ability to get overlaid directions
when out and about. The feature
requires you to have a smartphone
paired with the glass at the time, to use
the cellular connection as well as GPS
positioning from the handset. Once set
up, it allows you to walk along the street
and have an arrow pointing your next
direction right in front of your eyes, and
also uses voice nudges when you need to
make a turn. It works incredibly well
when you have a full address as it uses
the Google maps system, however, can
have problems with addresses with
One of the most WOW features of
Glass has to be the translation feature.
Powered by the mobile translation app
WordLens it allows you to look at text
and will convert it from one language
into another visibly, instantly. It
currently offers English, Spanish,
French, Italian, German and Russian,
so looking at a French street sign or
menu, it overlays the English translation
What I think is the most amazing part is
that it will replace an overlay translation
using the same text font and colour that
you’re looking at, as seamless to the user
as reading it in your native language.
Connect it with your
Android or IOS device and
explore a connected
experience on the go!
It wont replace your phone
but work more as an
accessory to enhance
Usability in life
Google Now on Glass
With Google glass enabled on Glass i would get
important reminders and notiﬁcations like birthdays
During my time with Glass I have given over
100 personal hands-on demos to both people in
Ogilvy (as well as people asking in the street..) so
I have had a chance to see a real mix of
reactions for ﬁrst time users and the potential
possibilities for brands.
!True ﬁrst person experiences
One of the initial uses brands could consider.
Examples already out there- in the sports space -
Play against Roger Federer, Justin Rose giving
golﬁng tips (sponsored by BA). These
experiences truly give the viewer the 1st person
perspective. The difference between Glass and
the more conventional body-mounted camera
experience: you’re not so conscious of what
you’re doing when you are wearing Glass.
!!Delivering context awareness
A growing trend. With Google Glass it’s initially
happening with News-based
companies :Guardian and Mashable that deliver
notiﬁcations/articles depending on your
location, time of day and behaviour.
IBM might be able to leverage the smart city
data and overlay in front of what you’re looking
at. Looking at a bus stop, it knows you get the
486 every day and could show you how long to
the next bus will be and if longer than usual, it
would suggest for you an alternative route.
The next direction for this is the Augmented
Reality space of real life.
Gaming Companies could make real-world
digital gaming experiences, where you need to
go to certain physical places and look at
landmarks or triggers to start a mission or
unlock rewards. The possibilities of virtual
characters following you down the street and
you becoming part of the story and exploring
playable cities is almost there.
!Hands free activity
Another interesting space Glass may move in to.
A number of cooking-based apps. are already in
the glassware store. Allowing people to focus on
cooking by overlaying step by step in front of
your eyes, frees up hands to do the actual
The medical industry is already showing an
active interest in the hands-free possibilities.
What if a retailer like Amazon took that to the
next level with shopping? Using the new ‘Fireﬂy’
product recognition software, you could look at
your fridge, it would work out what you’re
missing or running low on by just glancing at it,
It would then get put into your shopping basket
with a 1 click purchase.
Two other quite feasible spaces that Glass could
make a difference in are the Insurance, and
Healthcare sectors. The possible offer of a lower
premium if you were to wear them at work,
potentially cheaper car insurance by attaching
display cameras and tracking boxes. What if we
could do that for humans, or are we creeping
into the invasion of privacy territory?.
Possibilities for brands
How could it be used?
Glass you can
in front of your
“Are you talking to me or checking
your emails right now?”
Reaction from work collegues
“From mums to mountain climbers,
explorers are the first to make, to
tinker, to create, to shape, and to
share through Glass”
My time so far with the device: I’ve used it to assist in a
number of everyday experiences and feel I understand
better how the device could ﬁt into the everyday
Glass has enabled me to be more instantly reactive to
Emails and work changes.
( Might be a bad thing though..?!) My diary can be
manic, and I am always on the go, so it has enabled me
keep on top of workload with a mere glance.
It has also allowed me to get more natural images for
events and experiences, people are not as conscious
when you take photos, so you can get more interesting
Lastly, the overlaying of relevant information in front
of products, objects or buildings via Glass heads up
display is a real step towards an augmented self and
therefore has the potential to enhance life with the ease
of access to information.
Short battery life in the ﬁrst release is worse than my
iPhone (that’s saying something..) creating the need to
charge every few hours. The 'Glasshole' possibility is still
a MASSIVE factor when deciding should I or should I
not take it today. Limited 'Glasswhere' apps. had been a
major issue over the ﬁrst year as a developer prototype.
Now with around 50 apps it's opening up the
possibilities, but feels like it's not moving fast enough to
keep in step with market demands.
Privacy issues are a huge area of debate too...
There is a real feeling (and a lot of PR to back it up..)
that Glass is the ﬁrst step in a new direction for devices.
It may be but, my experience to date tells me that there
needs to be a number of evolved versions of the device
yet before I feel it can go mass-market.
Stand alone access to the internet on the go is a must.
The current need to pair with a smartphone to access
the internet really limits the ‘always on’ claim for
Building tech. into the frames to make it more discreet
will have a huge impact & potentially greater adoption
and public consciousness when engaging with Glass
The key element that might be the game changer
would be facial recognition; break the ﬁnal barrier of
A linked-in application that might assist me by showing
me a name, how I know someone, the history of our
encounters via instant heads-up display would certainly
be going in the right direction for me.
Pros, Cons and Future