Google Glass: What is It and Why Should I Care?

Google Glass has been dominating news in the tech world for a couple of months now. Despite all the publicity, the coverage has left many people scratching their heads and wondering, “What the heck is Google Glass?”

If that’s what you’ve been thinking, you’re not alone. Many media outlets have jumped right into talking about how cool the gadget is without really explaining what it does. Here, you’ll find out what it is, what it can do and what the concerns are surrounding its use.

What is It?

Google Glass is a type of augmented reality glasses produced by Internet giant Google. It’s not the first of its kind. You’ve probably seen other kinds on television — large goggles and headgear that seem too cumbersome to be enjoyable. Google has slimmed and trimmed their version down to be no heavier than a pair of sunglasses, though a little more conspicuous.

It functions like a Smartphone, but is completely hands-free. You wear it on your head and the nose pieces rest against your nose. In the upper right corner of your vision, you’ll find a tiny screen. While the device is currently being tested by users who paid $1500 for the chance to try it out, a less expensive consumer version is expected to come out later this year. For now, the Glass is available in five colors: Charcoal, Cotton, Shale, Sky and Tangerine.

What Does It Do?

Google Glass is a camera, display, microphone and touchpad built into a head mounted display. The device can take pictures, record live video, translate your voice, retrieve directions and maps and help you reply to your emails. There are a number of apps in development to broaden its uses.

The Glass uses bone induction technology to vibrate your skull to produce sound. It’s not painful, although it sounds like it might be. The device doesn’t yet have built-in GPS, so it would need to be tethered to your Smartphone for turn-by-turn directions to get to addiction treatment programs or other destinations. The battery life only lasts about a day, but that’s no different than current Smartphones. It can be recharged through a USB cord connected to a computer or power cord.

Why Are People Concerned?

It sounds cool enough, right? So, why are people concerned? As it turns out, people don’t like to be filmed unawares. Many people are concerned that they won’t know they’re being recorded or if their picture is being taken by the device.

Google says this shouldn’t concern people because recording or snapping pictures is indicated by a light on the device. A Kickstarter project is currently in development to create lens covers for the Glass to let the people around you know they’re not being recorded.

Google Glass may end up being a flash in the pan, or in ten years’ time it may turn out to be as ubiquitous as smartphones are today. At least now you know what it actually is!