Tag: Google Glass

UK to ban Google Glass behind the wheel

The British Department of Transport has announced that it is in favour of a ban on Google Glass behind the wheel.

A spokesperson told the Telegraph that drivers need to give their full attention to the road and they should not behave in a way that stops them from observing what is happening on the road.

“We are aware of the impending rollout of Google Glass and are in discussion with the police to ensure that individuals do not use this technology while driving,” the spokesperson said.

He added that the Department of Transport views Google Glass as something that falls under the category of careless or distracted driving.

Legislators across the pond are pondering the same problem. However, since the USA is all about personal freedoms, banning anything usually doesn’t go down well with some members of the public, especially in parts of the country where you can buy a confederate flag at any petrol station.

Google told CNET that it is still “early days” for Google Glass and that the company is thinking very carefully about how to design Glass, because technology “always raises new issues”. One would think that looking at what’s in front of the car while driving is hardly a “new issue”.

Google has said in the past that it doesn’t view Google Glass and driving as a dangerous combination. There are possibilities developers could come up with apps that aid drivers rather than distract them. After all, head-up displays have been in fighter jets for decades and they are offered as pricey options in some high-end cars.

The problem is, although some might use Google Glass responsibly, it might prove too difficult for some of the public to drive without tweeting about the royal baby.

Google to acquire stake in wearable display maker

Google has agreed to purchase a 6.3-percent stake in Taiwanese microdisplay maker Himax Display.

The outfit specialises in the production of tiny LCOS chips and modules, used in pico projectors, head-up displays and wearable products such as Google Glass.

The deal should be finalised by the end of the third quarter, but the financial terms have not been disclosed yet. Google also has an option to scoop up more shares within a year of closing the deal, which means it could end up owning a 14.8-percent stake in the company.

Himax Technologies currently has an 81.5 percent stake in Himax Display, Bloomberg reports.

Himax said the purpose of the deal is to fund production upgrades, extend capacity and enhance capabilities in Himax Display’s facilities involved in the production of LCOS chips and modules.

Over the last few years the company has specialised in head-mounted displays and wearable tech, which is what Google appears to be after.

However, Google Glass is still an immature and unproven product, so we shouldn’t read much into the investment. It does not mean Google will start churning out millions of Glass-like devices any time soon.

Apple applies for iWatch trademark

Apple has apparently applied to register a new trademark in Taiwan, the iWatch. It comes as no surprise, as rumours of an Apple smart watch have been clogging up the interweb for months. 

The filing was published Monday by Taiwan’s Intellectual Property Office, reports Focus Taiwan. Meanwhile, Qualcomm has appled for the “TOQ” trademark.

Apple filed the application on 3 June and it reportedly made identical filings in Japan, Mexico and Russia. Although the filing indicates that an iWatch is indeed coming, at this point nobody really knows what to expect.

Foxconn demonstrated a prototype smart watch at a shareholder bash last week. The company said the watch can be used to check phone calls and Facebook posts. It also measures the user’s vital signs, so sooner or later some developer will come up with an app that posts users’ health status on Facebook: “Fred Bloggs is having a stroke” for example. We are quite sure there are users out there who will “like” such statuses. 

Wearable tech might be the next frontier when it comes to smart devices. Unlike smart cameras and toasters, smart watches could be used to control phones, a feature that will surely be appreciated by joggers and bikers. But nobody expects them to come cheap and battery life remains a concern.

On the other hand, ahem, if anyone can make them take off, it’s Apple. The real question is whether we really need smart watches and Google Glass – not that long ago travellers were used to packing a laptop and a phone, usually a feature phone that could go for days on a single charge. Now people are expected to lug along a laptop, tablet, smartphone and “wearable” smart devices, so we’re not entirely convinced.

The whole point of feature packed smartphones was to replace music players, low-end cameras and other gadgets. That’s why peopble love them. Wearable tech just seems to be a step in the wrong direction in terms of convenience.

Scientists working on smart contact lenses

Although Google Glass has yet to hit retail and flop, scientists are already working on next generation wearable devices and they include smart contact lenses.

One of the main problems facing Google Glass is its sheer bulk. The device is still pretty big, yet despite its size it doesn’t offer a lot of battery life. Scientists in Korea and Switzerland believe smart contact lenses, built using a new generation of nanomaterials, are the way to go.

A team led by Jang-Ung Park at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology managed to mount a light emitting diode on an off the shelf contact lens. The team came up with a special material of their own to make it possible – a stretchy mix of graphene and silver nanowires, reports Technology Review

They tested their contraption on rabbits. The fluffy test subjects didn’t seem to mind, and did not rub their eyes. 

Meanwhile a Swiss team at Sensimed is working on a smart lens for 24-hour monitoring of eye pressure in glaucoma patients. Like the bunnies, they don’t seem to mind, either. University of Washington professor and Google Glass project founder Babak Parviz has also dabbled in contact-lens displays, but they were built using rigid, non-transparent materials.  

Porn app banned from Google Glass

For the last 20 years much new technology has come on the back of the porn industry’s support, however, it turns out that Google has rejected that indecent proposal.

According to Technews Daily, Google seems to think that its Glass project, an expensive concept involving Joe 90 glasses, will get worldwide support if you cannot run porn applications on them.

The first porn app for Google Glass was announced but was instantly pulled because the app violated the most recent additions to Google’s developer policies for the futuristic eyewear, which ban sexually explicit material.

The app was released by MiKandi, an adult app store that has a successful Android app for adult content. It would have allowed Google Glass wearers to look at photos and watch videos filmed using Google Glass.

The app let users have one-on-one interactions from a first-person point of view, acting as a sort of visual sexting.

A spokesperson from Google’s Puritan Inquisition Department huffed that its policies make it clear Glass does not allow Glassware content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material. They had to sit down afterwards and have a cold bath while the reporter cleaned the spit off their non glass glasses.

Any Glassware that violates this policy will be blocked from appearing on Glass.

This is the same section which promises harsh penalties for any app featuring child pornography because in the puritan mind, the two are forever linked.

The porn uses of Glass were a fairly obvious application. The headset has a tiny screen above the right eye that can display web content.

But what had been lacking for Glass is a killer app that would make people want to buy it. In the normal case for technology evolution, it would be adopted by the porn industry and then others would come up with slightly more salubrious uses.

It seems that Glass could have gone the same way. More than 10,000 people have visited the landing page for the porn app, and a dozen Glass owners have signed up to it, MiKandi CEO Jesse Adams wrote in his blog.

Adams insisted that his company was following the Google Glass developer terms when it started creating the app two weeks ago, but those rules were changed by Google just before the app’s launch.

Adams said the company will comply with the new rules, and plans on rolling out a new app that somehow doesn’t include any of the forbidden content.

Google Glass porn in the works

Android adult app developer MiKandi is putting the finishing touches on the world’s first Google Glass porn app and it could hit the company’s app store this week.

MiKandi told ZDnet that it is looking into new ways to deliver a more potent porn experience to Google Glass, thanks to its unique feature set. 

“Obviously, Glass is perfect for shooting POV video, so we’re experimenting with that first. But what’s really interesting about Glass is that it’s not just a hands free camera. It can receive and send data, so there are a lot of interesting interactions that we want to explore,” said MiKandi cofounder Jennifer McEwen, comparing the experience to a porn version of “Being John Malkovich”. 

Some in the porn industry believe that Google Glass has the potential to change the industry forever, both in terms of production and user, ahem, experience. While it might sound like a publicity stunt, if augmented reality porn takes off, it might take wearable smart devices to the next level. Developers are already working on porn for Oculus Rift, although a truly smart device with a camera, complete sensor array and proper OS such as Google Glass seems like a much more promising platform.

Although many don’t like to admit it, porn tends to have a huge influence on tech trends.

As much as 40 percent of the internet is porn and let’s not forget that pornographers played a crucial role in the video format wars. Back in the eighties they helped kill off Beta in favour of VHS and five years ago they helped bury HD DVD, making Blu Ray the only viable 1080p disc standard out there. 

Law makers start asking Google Glass awkward questions

Eight members of the US Congress sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page, raising concerns about Google Glass and its eavesdropping potential.

The letter features eight questions and asks Page for a response by 14 June, reports the New York Times.

“We are curious whether this new technology could infringe on the privacy of the average American,” the letter said. 

The lawmakers, members of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, point out that the actual product has not been released yet, hence there are a number of unanswered questions Google needs to address. On the other hand, perhaps this is their way of getting a free sample to play around with.

Representative Joe Barton, Republican of Texas, wants to know how Google plans to collect and store data from Google Glass, and how it will make sure that the data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands, much like some AP phone records and IRS tax returns. 

Of course, Google is trying to downplay the concerns. It insists that there is nothing really scary about Google Glass, apart from its appearance. Google maintains that it followed all its privacy and data collection policies and built in more tech to prevent privacy violations. It makes perfect sense, since few people will be willing to buy Google Glass unless they are absolutely certain that an embarrassing episode from their personal life won’t go viral. It is in Google own best interest to make it very, very secure.

In related news, Congress is currently facing its lowest approval ratings in history. Congress is now less popular than root canals, head lice, colonoscopies, carnies, traffic jams, France, Donald Trump, cockroaches and used-car salesmen. However, it did manage to beat out the Ebola virus, North Korea, meth labs, and gonorrhoea.

Scoble's Google Glass review: putting the ogle in Google

Arch-tech evangelist Robert Scoble posted a two-week review of Google Glass over the weekend – the do-no-evil company’s approach to integrating technology into eyewear – and it is passionate to say the least, insisting that he barely took them off – except to go to sleep.

Everywhere he went, Scoble says in a Google Plus post, he was met with curiosity and intrigue, and generally less skepticism or concern for privacy than he had imagined. One audience member insisted he wouldn’t chat to Scoble with them on – perhaps a valid point considering the during-conversation snapshots uploaded at the end of the post – but otherwise the reactions were generally positive and excited.

Scoble says that he will “never live a day of my life from now on” without wearing the device or some similar competitor, because the tech is “that significant”, citing Google’s suite of products switched on as default and the quickness of the camera. Photos and videos automatically upload to Google+, and as the camera can be accessed so easily – and from the perspective of the eye – it can ‘capture moments’ as seen by the user.

The full post is here. Scoble points out that the device failed to find him a sushi restaurant on the trot but there is potential here for opening up the market for micropayments – Google Glass taking bookings or singling out products to be picked up in-store.”Google is forbidding advertising in apps,” he says, which is a “huge shift” for the Google business model – speculating that Larry Page is shifting Google from an advertising based model to commerce based.

At $1500, not everyone’s going to want or be able to afford a pair. At $200, it’s a different story.

Already, though, some groups are advocating a campaign against Google Glass from hitting the mainstream – urging people to ban them from their place of work or from talking to friends or family with them on. Google’s record on privacy is not exactly exemplary, prompting concerns in Germany when the company decided to map entire neighbourhoods without the consent of, well, the people in those neighbourhoods. Google responded by blacking out households who were not comfortable with this – making them pretty easy to identify.

As a money-making company, Google appears to be socially liberal. On the surface, it serves no purpose for Google to pursue a creepy, peeping Tom agenda, but this is useful for advertising and data harvesting. And what about the countries where Google is accessed? The firm is fairly open with its transparency reports and frequently publishes requests from governments or media about take-down notices or requested information on users. Its servers are in the United States, and that makes it, and Google Glass, vulnerable to the Patriot Act – just how integrated does the world want its line of sight to be with the web?

It is already possible to trace smartphones for surveillance purposes, but in a twist of irony, just like with Facebook, users will be willingly submitting their real-life movements, interactions, and their personalities to the web and out of their control. Not just theirs, but the movements of others too. Is this anti-social media?

Scoble took Google Glass to the toilets with him. Just where else would you rather go without strangers being able to covertly trace and photograph your movements? Who takes a camcorder to the bog?

At the very least, we guess Google Glass could be a boon for the tabloid press and their papparazzi. Dim but tech-interested D-listers could even snap themselves onto the front pages – on purpose or accidentally.

Google Glass may have changed Scoble’s life forever – as he says – but could naive Glass-wearing gadget obsessives be changing ours as well? After all, it’s difficult to opt out of someone else’s choice of eyewear.

IHS predicts Google Glass shipments to hit 9.4 million

The first Google Glass devices have already started rolling out the developers and tech enthusiasts, but public availability is expected some time next year. 

IHS predicts Google Glass shipments will reach 124,000 this year, but the adoption rate will accelerate by 250 percent in 2014. Between now and 2016 Google is expected to sell 9.4 million units, with sales hitting 6.6 million in 2016.

It doesn’t sound like much compared to shipments of flagship smartphones, but bear in mind that Google Glass costs $1,500 and it is still an unproven concept. At $1,500 Google won’t find many takers, so it is safe to assume that it is targeting a much lower price point for 2014 and beyond. IHS also pointed out that apps will be crucial to the widespread adoption of Google Glass.

“Hardware is much less relevant to the growth of Google Glass than for any other personal communication device in recent history. This is because the utility of Google Glass is not readily apparent, so everything will depend on the appeal of the apps,” said Theo Ahadome, senior analyst at IHS. “This is why the smart glass market makes sense for a software-oriented organization like Google, despite the company’s limited previous success in developing hardware. Google is betting the house that developers will produce some compelling applications for Glass.”

This is good news for Google, as it has proven time and again that it simply can’t do hardware.

However, IHS also came out with a much more cautious, even pessimistic forecast. Under this outlook, app development will be limited, relegating Google Glass to the role of an overpriced wearable camera rather than a proper augmented reality system. In that case, shipments will reach just one million through 2016.

Google boss: Smartphones stole my masculinity

Google co-founder and Google Glasses enthusiast Sergey Brin claims that smartphones are emasculating.

Speaking at the TED conference, Brin seemed to imply that if you use a smartphone you might as well put your family jewels in a blender and that the whole Android thing was a sure way to make real men start eating quiche.

He wants men to start using Google Glasses so that they can kick sand into the faces of nerds everywhere and score themselves a proper woman.

Brin went so far as to say that using smartphones is “emasculating” because they did not show you how to use your body.

Smartphones encourage men to walk around hunched up, looking down, and occasional rub a featureless piece of glass.

He thinks that it is much better to look at the world through Joe 90 style glasses as apparently this will make you ooze with testosterone. Brin did not say what would happen if women wore his magic specs.

Brin’s remarks came after Google announced a pre-release version of the device for $1,500. To apply, would-be Glass owners have to pitch Google on Google+ or Twitter using the hashtag #ifihadglass, Network World reports.

Anyone left out of the pilot program will have a chance to buy Glass later this year when it becomes available, Brin said. The final price tag will be below $1,500 but Brin did not say how much it would cost for males to get their manhood back.