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What's it like to wear Google Glass for a week in Ireland?

You’ll be looked at – a lot – and you won’t find it useful for planning a trip on the bus, but it IS fun…

photo (2) Evonne wearing her Google Glass specs. Sure, you'd never notice them, right? Source: Evonne Reynolds

WHEN PRESENTED WITH the opportunity of trialling Google Glass for a week, I couldn’t wait, although initially I wasn’t fully sure of their capabilities or how user-friendly and intuitive they would be.

One week later I can clarify some of the things they can do, such as take pictures, video, calls, and search. However, to dispel some of the frequently asked questions I received, they can’t see into the future, give you x-ray vision, provide you with intergalactic transportation or operate for more than a few hours without a charge.

Lack of superpowers aside, Google Glass still represent an incredible technological achievement – however the current model is not without its limitations.

You can do this…

While the main functionalities of the glasses are similar to those of a smartphone, they are not quite as advanced. For instance, although you can make calls, read texts, take pictures and video, play games, perform Google Search and get direction through Google Maps, there are restrictions.

But you can’t do this…

You can only perform a basic search, and its Google Maps does not yet incorporate public transport data which, for a public transport regular like me, was annoying.

The voice control function also needs refinement. This is particularly apparent as the majority of commands are voice-activated. The primary issues I encountered were that the glasses regularly misinterpreted my requests and were very sensitive to background noise.

Wherefore Dun Laoghaire?

Although the misinterpretations were usually comical – in a Chinese whispers sort of way – I did find myself getting embarrassed when I had to continually repeat myself in public. I had some ‘fun’ trying to get it to recognise ‘Dun Laoghaire’!

On a more practical level, Google Glass is a very well built, premium-feel device, but a little cumbersome. Unlike a regular pair of specs, Google Glass doesn’t fold down. This restricted my usage considerably, as if I wanted to bring them out on an adventure I either had to carry them around in their oversized case, or alternatively I had to wear them. However, I was a bit apprehensive of wearing a €1,600 piece of equipment on my head all day.

While the Glass behaves much like a smartphone, it doesn’t have a cellular radio so it can’t connect to data by itself; instead it connects to your smartphone through bluetooth or wifi where it gets data connection. This means the glasses have to rely on additional technology to function. I imagine, however, that later versions will have their own built-in 4G connection.

Freedom of hands-free

On a more positive note, I found the images and video to be excellent quality and very unique in the sense that the footage produced is from the exact perspective of the wearer. Also, as all video and images are hands-free there’s a lot more freedom to record on the go.

However, on the flip side, as there is no noise or external LEDs on the Glass to indicate that footage is being recorded, I would anticipate mass adoption of this technology presenting very real privacy issues down the line.

So now you know a little more about the technology. What was the experience of wearing them like? Well – it was lots of fun! I really enjoyed wearing the snazzy specs out and about.

I mainly enjoyed other people’s reactions. Passers-by would double take and gaze in disbelief, unsure if they were seeing the real deal. Similarly, when produced in front of friends and family, all were really excited and eager to try them on and of course snap an all-important selfie.

The attention of waiters

I also received much attention when wearing them in restaurants; waiters would coyly ask to try them on, and on occasion I would see other customers, not so covertly, take pictures of me.

Overall, the glasses were a great conversation starter and if I’m being honest, wearing them did make me feel a bit cool, in a half-woman, half-robot Googling machine kind of way.

Although the capabilities of Google Glass are at present a far cry from seeing into the future or intergalactic transportation, they definitely have serious potential. The technology is in beta and the advancements will, no doubt, evolve rapidly.

Through their slick interface, Google Glass seamlessly places Google directly on your face, providing you with instant access to the internet, video, search and navigation.

Although the glasses come with a hefty price tag and need some refinement, the current edition is still guaranteed to provide hours of entertainment. On handing mine back to their rightful owners, I know I’ll miss them.

Evonne Reynolds is Digital Planner at leading media planning and buying agency Carat Ireland.

Older people try on Google Glass and it completely blows their mind>

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Evonne Reynolds

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