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Pioneering the Google Glass

Wednesday, May. 21 | By Hannah Dellinger
Mark Hatchell demonstrates how Google Glass works. Klaus Fuechsel, president of Doc Klaus Computer Care in Warrenton, has acquired a limited release pair of the new product. Hatchell is lead software developer at the business.
Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Doc Klaus Computer Care in Warrenton has acquired a pair of the limited release Google Glass as a developer.

Google allowed a limited number of people to purchase the prototype on April 15 in order to allow developers around the world to create applications and find bugs in the device.

The Glass was available for $1,500 each, because purchasing the device is somewhat of an investment with the potential to bring in a lot of revenue with the creation of helpful applications and software.

“I used to be a software developer,” said Klaus Fuechsel president of Doc Klaus Computer Care, “I’m now fixing computers, but I still would like to do some developing. The Glass is a completely new device, so there is not much software out there, so I can come up with a lot of ideas.”

Fuechsel and his lead software developer, Mark Hatchell, have been playing around with the Glass for about two weeks. So far they have already created one simple app and have ideas for even more.

“One thing that is tangible and concrete that we’ve come up with so far is a ‘Word of the Day’ app,” said Hatchell. “Essentially you load it up with a bunch of SAT words on a server and then people can subscribe to this service where you get words every day.”

Hatchell explained that since the Glass isn’t ready for consumers, there isn’t a way to access an app store yet.
“Basically anything that’s out there now, you have to be a developer to be able to figure out how to install it or if it’s a service-based thing you go to a computer and log into your Google account tied to the glasses. From there you stream data to the Glass,” he said.

Fuechsel said that although the Glass is in it’s infancy, he can see a world of possibilities. He is interested in creating a translation app.

“I like the idea of being able to talk to somebody in a different language without having to understand the other language,” he said. “The Google Glass translates in the display. I can say something and it shows me what it means in French. I can say it in French and the person answers in French and theoretically with the voice recognition the phone can take that and translate it to me. There are so many possibilities.”

Fuechsel also sees great possibilities in the Glass as a way to help people with memory loss.
“I’m getting older and I’m starting to forget more and more,” he said. “In my business I see thousands of clients a year, I see them at the grocery store and they know me, but I have absolutely no idea who they are. With a device like this, it can help you memorize people.”

He said that because websites like Facebook and other devices are capable of facial recognition on photographs, it is feasible that the Glass will be able to do the same thing. This means that are possibilities of creating helpful Glass applications for Alzheimer’s patients or people with other memory loss disorders.

Facial recognition capabilities and a subtle camera have some worried about intrusions of privacy. Fuechsel says that even though the Glass can be used as a spying device, so can any smart phone. He made the point that even smaller pen or button cameras can be purchased relatively cheaply as well.

Fuechsel said that the Glass works well as a hands-free navigation device. He said that he prefers it to other hands-free devices, because it is closer to his ear and finds it less distracting. The screen does block the Glass-wearer’s view, but Fuechsel thinks that the design might be able to be improved and altered with this in mind.

Hatchell said that all of the issues and ideas that the Doc Klaus team encounters will be reported to Google so that they can contribute to the consumer-release product.

“There are developer forums where we can go in and place information and talk about bugs we’ve found,” he said. “There are also Google groups where you can chat about them with other Glass developers and the Google Glass Team.”

Both Hatchell and Fuechsel agree that the Glass has a good foundation, but there are some improvements that need to be made and a lot of software and applications that need to be developed so that it can be ready for the public.
“They have made a good standard for interacting with the device,” said Hatchell. “The interaction is just lacking right now, because developers are still making applications. That’s why they’ve released these to developers, so that we can make applications and they can become a usable device before they are released to the public.”

Right now the Glass offers a bare-bones menu with a few select options. There is a calendar, a few games, a photo and video recorder, a Google search and a few other applications available. There is a swipe pad on the side that controls most of the interaction and voice recognition that navigates the device.

Hatchell said that in order to connect the Glass to Wi-Fi networks, you have to use another device like a smart phone, tablet or computer to pull up a QR Code that the Glass scans. He said that he foresees the Glass “Bringing back QR Codes,” since they help to easily navigate the Glass to web links by simply looking at them.
When the Glass becomes available to the public, it is estimated to be priced at about $300. Researchers from teardown.com determined that the materials used to make the glass cost about $80 total.

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