SETsquared Blog

Google Glass bugs are an Entrepreneurs’ Charter If looking through the new Google Glass doesn’t make you dizzy, then the pre-launch PR spin certainly will. Last month Seattle night club, The 5 Point, announced it has banned patrons wearing Google Glass on privacy grounds 6 months before the new device is even on sale. This month 8000 lucky triallists paid $1,500 for advance copies of the high-tech glasses in a highly publicised online auction. Clearly this is not a product that has to try hard to make the news cycle. And rightly so, Google Glass feels like it could be the biggest thing to happen in computing since the iPhone.

The big idea behind Google Glass is to take the button-pushing out of computing and put the data right in front of your eye balls. The distinctly ‘Treky’ looking glasses have an integrated camera, display, touchpad, battery and microphone built into the frames and a prism puts the control screen in your field of vision (Google says the display is the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away), through which you can search, translate, take pictures, and video by voice command.

Google Glass is more ‘i’ than an iPhone even – the embedded camera records and takes photographs from a first-person perspective – literally what you look at. Controlling this data is novel, via a microphone and touch-pad on one arm of the frame. You select what you want to do with a brief gesture or by talking to the device and Google Glass uses bone-induction technology for the audio, gently vibrating your skull to create sound. Whither Skullcandy?

So what does Google Glass tell us about the future? It’s definitely a step further along the ubiquitous computing road – a small step in some ways as the glasses still need to be tethered to your phone, but it shows where we’re heading and how using data, currently consumed via our laptops, tablets and smart phones, is about to become an altogether more intimate experience.

The excitement around the launch is palpable, but so are the bugs! US publication, Business Insider, ran a feature on the ‘Ugly truth about Glass’ listing the shortcomings of the product’s first iteration. Rather than put us off, is more of an entrepreneurs charter, neatly listing all the things that tech companies need to resolve for Google Glass, and in time, Apple’s Windows, or some such product! Here are five things that need to be fixed or five start—ups waiting to be started:
1. “The battery life is terrible”. Business Insider estimates battery life at just over3 hours. Power’s going to be the big one to solve.

2. “It’s disorienting, and gives you a headache”. Danger UXD! User experience design is ripe for innovation and an intellectual property nightmare. Let’s hope the entrepreneurs make as much money as the lawyers!

3. “The screen is hard to see in bright light”. Clearly not a probably initially as geeks only go out at night, but the screen/prism interface needs improvement.

4. “The voice controls for Glass are buggy”. In the footsteps of Siri & the new Google Now, there’s audio interface technology issues for sure, but maybe bigger opportunities around semantic analysis, natural language processing and searching big data.

5. “You still need a smartphone to use Glass outdoors.” Google Glass doesn’t have a built-in mobile data connection, so, you have to tether it to your phone. This raises the delicious prospect of Google Glass down-grading the smart phone to a ‘processor pack’ in your pocket rather than the designer desirable that Apple has made it today.

Beyond that, if Google can do ‘Glass’, what about other ‘extreme’ peripheral devices like touch-sensitive gloves and eye movement controls. They already exist as military tech, why not for consumers too?

Mobile start-up or entrepreneur? Here’s how we can help:

If you’re involved in developing mobile solutions the University of Bath Innovation Centre has got a lot to offer you. We’re signing up companies looking to present to potential investors and large multi-nationals at the Discovering Start-Ups 2013 competition – the judges are the ‘A’ list from the mobile tech world and include Google’s New Business Development Principal, Debu Purkayastha.

Also if you’re looking to develop your contacts as a mobile start—up come along to openMIC#17, our next mobile networking barcamp or if you want help perfecting that mobile start-up business plan to present to investors, have a look at our Bath Entrepreneurship Programme for Mobile here(we’ve got funded places to donate, thanks to the sponsorship of the ICT Knowledge Transfer Network)