Seeing the future: will Google Glass help you travel smarter?

The gear • April 2014

Shiny revolution or optical illusion?

Derek Adams
Derek Adams

Technology journalist for T3 Magazine and The Sunday Times, and Blue Executive Club Member

The Android-powered, augmented-reality Google Glass may not be available to the mass market until later this year, but we’re all likely to be clamouring for a pair (or some of the many copycats) when they are. The question on everyone’s lips: will they really improve your travel experience? Our gadget man Derek Adams gets his hands on a pair to reveal the good, the bad and the ugly of Google’s latest gizmo

The concept

You’ll love… the interface
Google Glass uses a tiny display just north of the right eye. Google says it’s like watching a 25-inch TV from about eight feet away. Sound is cleverly piped through the upper jaw by means of a futuristic bone conductor.

You’ll hate… the eye strain
Staring at a tiny screen can be bad for the eyes. Why else would Google recommend that first timers wear them for just two hours at a time?

Voice control

You’ll love… the simplicity
Google Glass uses voice recognition software as its main interface. Want to know the height of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa? Simply precede your question with “OK Glass” and you’ll have the answer in a jiffy.

You’ll hate… hearing “OK Glass” all the time
It’s bad enough being forced to eavesdrop on mobile users, so what will it be like when everyone’s walking around saying “OK Glass, do this, do that”?

Getting around

You’ll love… the sat nav
This is the most impressive feature of all. Say “OK Glass, get directions to…”, and an augmented-reality map with a little arrow pops up on the display.

You’ll hate… not being able to use it when driving
Driving while wearing Google Glass would constitute an offence in many countries, including the UK, and that could nullify the product’s most impressive feature.


Visionary thinking: Google Glass


You’ll love… the apps
At the moment there are around 90 Google Glass apps on the market. The best include SpeedHud GPS (a speedometer), DriveSafe for Glass (wakes you up if you fall asleep at the wheel), and GlassEats (a nearest restaurant directory).

You’ll hate… the data charges
Google Glass only works when tethered to a mobile device (Android or iOS) via the MyGlass app. There’s no charge if used in a wi-fi hotspot, but monthly costs will likely spiral in 4G or 3G network areas, and even more so when data roaming abroad.

Photo ops

You’ll love… taking pictures
Google Glass takes great 5-megapixel point-of-view pictures and decent enough 720p video, which can be shared with friends via Google+.

You'll hate… looking ridiculous
Wearing Google Glass makes you look like an optical technician on a lunch break. Or an extra from Blade Runner. But it’s the privacy issue that will likely cause the most fuss, since you can’t be sure if a wearer is just looking at you or taking a bunch of pictures and video.

Find out more on Google Glass

This article has been tagged Opinion, Technology