Wearable Tech World Feature Article
April 16, 2013

Google Glass Mirror API Released for Developers, Hardware Specs Also Released

In the world of wearable technology and augmented reality it seems sometimes that things are perhaps too much Google Glass, perhaps too much all the time. We admit this may be the case, but then, a lot of folks - especially developers - are interested these days, so we do sometimes get into a Google Glass loop. It happens.

This week brings more: Google informed the world that the first headsets (which are being built by Foxconn) are about ready to ship, and that the Glassware API is ready to deliver for use with them.

"Glassware" is Google's term for Google Glass apps.

Last week, we highlighted a great infographic that demonstrates exactly how Google Glass works from a hardware perspective - and we focused a bit on how the design pulls together a lot of perhaps ordinary parts but presents it all as a "cutting-edge" package that has already created a unique mythology. We also noted our belief that the secret sauce to Google Glass is the micro projector and prism combo that delivers the heads-up display.

One thing to note about the display capabilities that we did not mention in our earlier article is that Google Glass offers only one projector and one prism/lens. This means that delivering 3D images is not currently a possibility. Perhaps a future version will do so.

There are some interesting alternatives that already deliver 3D experiences - take Epson's Moverio glasses, for example.

Through a strange anomaly of utilizing an ancient Android v2.2 and a sophisticated see-through, dual projected image capability Moverio delivers a true 3D experience across what the user will perceive to be the equivalent of an 80-inch display (Google Glass delivers a display experience perceived to be equivalent to a 25-inch screen at roughly 8 feet). We'll be taking a closer look at Epson's Moverio elsewhere, but we note it here just to highlight that, though lending themselves ultimately to different uses, there are in fact alternatives to Google Glass.

Following up on our infographic article, we can now add the formal specifications for Google Glass headsets:

  • Fit
    • Adjustable nose pads and durable frame fits any face.
    • Extra nose pads in two sizes.
  • Display
    • High-resolution display is the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from 8 feet away.
  • Camera
    • Photos: 5 MP
    • Videos: 720p
  • Audio
    • Bone Conduction Transducer
  • Connectivity
    • Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g
    • Bluetooth
  • Storage
    • 12 GB of usable memory, synced with Google cloud storage. 16 GB Flash total.
  • Battery
    • One full day of typical use. Some features, like Hangouts and video recording, are more battery intensive.
  • Charger
    • Included Micro USB cable and charger.
    • While there are thousands of Micro USB chargers out there, Glass is designed and tested with the included charger in mind. Use it and preserve long and prosperous Glass use. ("Prosperous" is Google's own word.)
    • Compatibility
      • Any Bluetooth-capable phone.
      • The MyGlass companion app requires Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. MyGlass enables GPS and SMS messaging.
    • There you have it. All in all, as we noted in our earlier article it doesn't really sound all that impressive when each item is taken on its own, but the complete package wins us over. 12 GB of storage is not insubstantial (will a future version sport microSD card support?) and a one-day charge for the battery, which we'll translate into 12 hours, is reasonable. Note that Wi-Fi is limited to b/g, but this is to ensure that there isn't an overly large strain on the battery.

      Wi-Fi will be sufficient for that all-important Internet access.

      Developers at the Gate

      In our earlier article, we noted that Google Glass will really stake its claim on us, not through the hardware but rather through the applications specifically built for it. Developers have been eagerly awaiting the means to begin building these apps, and this week Google took the first steps to making it happen. We need to note that there are currently two classes of Google Glass developers - those very, very few who already happen to have access to some type of Google Glass hardware; and those developers who still do not.

      Those with hardware in hand can take advantage of what is still a "preview" API, as well as several tools that Google released yesterday - a Google Glass companion app for Android dubbed MyGlass (the same that is mentioned in the specifications above) and a Web-based Google Glass setup wizard. Those who do not have hardware will have to satisfy themselves with pouring through the myriad Glassware developer guidelines, best practices and a set of accompanying videos that Google has also now posted.

      As we did, developers without hardware access can spend hours going through the numerous collections of details and information - it won't lead to any actual app development, but it's a start and getting a handle on these issues is important in any case. There is much too much to try and summarize here. If you are a developer or someone interested in what developers now have access to, stop by Google's own Glassware developer pages.

      And make sure to check out the videos. Here's one in case you can't take the time to jump over to Google's pages.

      If you still don't really grasp what the Google Glass possibilities are, we recommend checking out a website assembled by a certain Greg Roberts.

      The bottom line with all of this is that the applications, that will make or break Google Glass as a useful consumer product, are now a step nearer at hand.

      Edited by Braden Becker

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