Wearable Tech World Feature Article
April 11, 2013

The Inner Workings of Google Glass in Print and Pictures

The Google Glass wearable technology project has certainly been an interesting adventure to date. For some folks, what the system does isn’t particularly special - we've seen a variety of different technologies deliver on various pieces of it.

For others, the hardware is the thing that gets one excited. And for many, it’s the yet undiscovered collection of possibilities on which Google Glass can be programmed to accomplish and deliver.

The latter issue is certainly front and center these days - especially as Google has recently completed a series of cross-country developer-only Google Glass events designed to get applications ideas cooking. And though ultimately it’s the new applications and the hope for new ideas that will make or break Google Glass in the long run, there has already emerged an interesting Google Glass mythology that generates substantial ongoing interest.

How can this be if the device isn't yet really in the public domain, and won't be formally made available for sale for some time yet?

It has emerged specifically because of the hardware. We've now become more than accustomed to seeing Sergey Brin show up in one place or another on an almost weekly basis with Google Glass firmly in place, and the approach has worked for creating strong interest - and a storyline (after all, we can't have a mythology without a storyline and an interest in it).  

The last piece that needs to really exist of course is the hardware itself (a mythical Excalibur just won't do in today's world), and the hardware has to be pretty darn cool.

For many of us, Google Glass is still nothing more than a toy that sits on Sergey's head, but today we have some further proof that Google Glass is not only a toy sitting on Sergey's head, but also a real and ultimately sophisticated device that incorporates an Internet connection, a video camera and both a micro projector and a prism into its design. Hmm, prisms sound pretty old school, and remind us either of Sir Isaac Newton conducting light experiments, or old SLR cameras.

But trust us, it plays a vital role in the Google Glass mythology.

We're now able to take a much closer look at Google Glass thanks to the hard work of artist Martin Missfeldt over in Germany, who has created an enormously useful infographic that provides all of the myriad pieces of Google Glass that need to come together to deliver the sophisticated experiences that the mythology has now made us well aware of. We've provided Missfeldt's infographic below - if you click on it you’ll be able to see a larger and more easily readable version.

As the infographic makes clear, the real secret to Google Glass is the built-in micro projector and the prism. The two work in tandem to superimpose the augmented reality images over the user's normal field of view – that’s where the real magic is to be found. When you look at the rest of the electronics, well, they are hardly cutting edge on their own - but when pulled together into the Google Glass package the whole becomes …right, greater than the sum of its parts.

So we can add Aristotle to the Google Glass mythology as well.

Missfeldt also asks a key question: How can a person who wears or needs to wear real glasses effectively make use of Google Glass? We're not sure if those of us who need those glasses can do so - Google Glass on top of eyeglasses is too geeky even for us.

One thing to note on the infographic is that it does not speak to how the bone conduction-based sound transfer Google Glass has incorporated will work. It notes that there are speakers, which isn't nearly the entire story. Google filed a patent application on January 24, 2013 for a wearable computing device with an indirect bone-conduction speaker. The usual ear buds or speakers associated with sound transmission are nowhere to be seen on Google Glass; it is part of the mythology.

In any case, the mythology is already well deserved. Sure, Google Glass will make you look like a program from “Tron,” but you’ll be the one who can build entirely new mythologies of your own.

If you happen to be adventurous, try your hand at scoping out the same image in German, or dive into a number of other relevant Google Glass things Missfeldt has uncovered, along with, more generally, a very interesting site well worth scoping out - Missfeldt has many interesting things available on his website - including lots of art and videos. Check it out!

Edited by Braden Becker

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