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Google Glass: One Developer’s Trial Run with the Infamous Wearable Tech

Google Glass

Our team had a competition not too long ago to come up with original Google Glass app ideas. As the winner, I had the opportunity to experiment with the technology and report back to the rest of the team.

Well, I’ve had a month to mess around with the Google Glass, and here are some thoughts and things learned.

I didn’t find it all that useful for everyday life, especially at work.  I wore it at my desk for the first couple hours and then took it off because I wasn’t using it; it was just distracting. There are a bunch of cheesy games and sample apps that are interesting, but still left me wondering what people use this thing for.

My favorite game was a pong style mini-game where you bob your head back and forth to control a Pong paddle. It looks silly though, and isn’t discreet if you’re trying to play games without anyone knowing.

There’s a wink to take picture setting, which is hilariously non-discreet if you want it to recognize the gesture. I did accidentally take a picture in the bathroom once though, so careful how you blink.  

I think the most novel thing that I found was being able to read and dictate a text message on the fly. I got a text while riding my bike and it was cool to instantly read and reply without pulling over. 

In general, wearing it in public is kind of embarrassing. I wore it around the first couple days to see what it’s like to be a glass-hole, but the novelty wore off. Most people just think it looks funny or that you’re recording them. Once you get used to it, it’s so unobtrusive you really don’t even notice it’s there.

Development-wise, progress was slow. The whole development stack was unfamiliar to me, and open source tools are difficult to get working properly. There’s no glass emulator, so I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out how to manually install apps on the device. 

All the documentation made it look simple, but I had a lot of problems getting it to connect to and recognize the device. Most of what I learned was about Eclipse, the Android Debug Bridge, and the rest of the tool chain. 

I didn’t get much farther than Hello World on the app development, though it is a lot more complicated than a normal console app Hello World would be. Someone familiar with Android development would have a big head start developing glass apps.

So, here are some of the things I figured out the hard way, which will hopefully help the next person:

  • Install the x86 eclipse/SDK bundle from the glass developer site. The 64 bit wouldn’t find the glass when you plugged it in in USB.
  • Make sure to turn on the debug mode setting on the glass (Settings / Device Info).
  • Install the drivers that come with the glass SDK (extras folder).  It won’t work with normal USB drivers.
  • To make sure it’s recognized, go to the DDMS perspective in eclipse.
  • If the glass isn’t there, use the adb.exe tool that comes with the SDK to get it connected. “ADB devices” will list all the recognized devices.
  • If it shows up as unauthorized, then you have to allow the security warning that pops up on the glass.
  • To run sample apps, make sure you import them to your workspace as an Android Application.  You’ll probably have to manually add gdk.jar to the buildpath to get it to compile.

With all that done, it’s pretty easy to run it. Just select “Run As Android Application” and select the device from the pop up.  The new app should show up in the glass menu once it’s installed and you can run it from the Glass. 

Glass is really awkward to wear on your face when it’s connected to USB, though.

Photo Credit: wilbertbaan via Compfight cc

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