Slide 8-9: Google Glass Display, Touchpad, Camera, Microphone, Speaker, Battery

(Take me to the beginning of these slides, from my Society for Health Systems Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference presentation on Google Glass and health IT workflow, immediately before HIMSS14. Text accompanying slides is colloquial because it was transcribed from audio recording.)


The Glass headset itself consists of this micro display, which uses a prism to project an image on the retina of a 25 inch display floating about eight feet away. It is perhaps Glass’s most remarkable feature, this monitor appearing to float over someone else’s head. There’s a microphone, a pretty good one, as it filters out background noise well. In fact, its the only head mounted video camera I’ve tried, and I’ve tried several, which sounds great even when I’m biking. Its only when I turn my head does the rush of air become bothersome.

Then there’s the camera, about which much is made. The worry is that you’ll surreptitiously snap photos and take video and facial recognition will violate the privacy of passersby. It is true, one can snap a picture just by winking. Google has disallowed facial recognition is certain core applications, but ways are being found around it. One of the cleverest, but also potentially unsettling apps I know of would allow you to just look at someone in the workplace, and if you have the authorization, view their list of unfinished tasks floating over their head.

This touchpad on the temple is allows you to move backward and forward along the timeline, we’ll see a 68 second video tutorial in a moment. Pause on a card and tap will do what ever makes sense. If it’s a current weather cart it’ll show you the next few days of predicted weather. If it’s a photo just taken you can send it to someone or post it to social media.

This is a bone conductive speaker, meaning it transmits through your skull. There’s been one report of one previous deaf individual being able to hear via this speaker. However, the speaker isn’t loud enough in noisy environments, so there’s an optional ear piece that can be plugged into the microUSB port right about here.

Battery life is Glass’s biggest problem. I can get about 48 minutes of HD video before I run out of juice. And five or six hours of casual use, glancing at notifications, answering an email hands free now and then. I sometimes get around this by carrying around an external battery in a shirt pocket and keeping Glass plugged in. Which I admit is a bit dorky looking. But hey, dorky is the new black so I don’t much care. Alternatively, I have two Glass’s on the same Gmail account, I’ll just swap to the back up glass. I’m interested in seeing how Google fixes this. New battery tech? There are accessories that add an additional battery around the back of the heads, sort of like one of those things you wear to hold eyeglasses on you head during sports. And in the car, when using GPS, I keep it plugged into the cigarette lighter.

Let’s watch the video instruction on the user interface. Some people find glass easier to use than smartphones, others disagree. I think that’s because sometimes people try to do what they do on the smartphone only on Glass, such as surf the web. If can do this, but not well. It’s sort of like the joke about the dog playing chess. The owner says he he’s a lousy player, when the remarkable thing is it can play chess at all. Glass is to be used for different but complementary activities. I use Glass and my smartphone less than I use my smartphone if you understand the point I’m trying to make. Folks reach for their smartphone 150 times a day and spend more then two hours on non-voice interaction. Glass reduces that.

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