Google Glass

Google Glass Explorer Edition
Also known as Project Glass
Developer Google
Manufacturer Foxconn
Type Optical head-mounted display (OHMD), Wearable technology
Release date Developers (US): February 2013 (February 2013)[1]
Public (US): Around 2013[2]
Introductory price Explorer version: $1,500 USD
Standard edition:[3]
Operating system Glass OS[4] (Google Xe Software[5])
CPU OMAP 4430 System on a chip, dual-core processor[6]
Memory 2 GB RAM[7]
Storage 16 GB flash memory total[6] (12 GB of usable memory)[8]
Display Prism projector, 640×360 pixels (equivalent of a 25 in/64 cm screen from 8 ft/2.4 m away)
Sound Bone conduction transducer[8]
Input Voice command through microphone,[8] accelerometer,[8] gyroscope,[8] magnetometer,[8] ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Controller input Touchpad, MyGlass phone mobile app
Camera 5 Megapixel photos
720p video[8]
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11b/g,[8] Bluetooth,[8] micro USB
Power 570 mAh Internal lithium-ion battery
Weight 36 g (1.27oz)
Any Bluetooth-capable phone; MyGlass companion app requires Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher or any iOS 7.0 or higher[8]
Related articles Oculus Rift

Google Glass is a brand of smart glasses  an optical head-mounted display designed in the shape of a pair of eyeglasses. It was developed by X (previously Google X)[9] with the mission of producing a ubiquitous computer.[1] Google Glass displayed information in a smartphone-like, hands-free format.[10] Wearers communicated with the Internet via natural language voice commands.[11][12]

Google started selling a prototype of Google Glass to qualified "Glass Explorers" in the US on April 15, 2013, for a limited period for $1,500, before it became available to the public on May 15, 2014.[13][14] It had an integral 5 Megapixel still/720p video camera. The headset received a great deal of criticism and legislative action due to privacy and safety concerns.

On January 15, 2015, Google announced that it would stop producing the Google Glass prototype, to be continued in 2017 tentatively.[15] In July 2017, it was announced that the Google Glass Enterprise Edition would be released.[16]


Google Glass was developed by Google X,[17] the facility within Google devoted to technological advancements such as driverless cars.[18]

The Google Glass prototype resembled standard eyeglasses with the lens replaced by a head-up display.[19] In mid-2011, Google engineered a prototype that weighed 8 pounds (3.6 kg);[20] by 2013 they were lighter than the average pair of sunglasses.[1]

In April 2013, the Explorer Edition was made available to Google I/O developers in the United States for $1,500.[21]

The product was publicly announced in April 2012.[22] Sergey Brin wore a prototype of the Glass to an April 5, 2012, Foundation Fighting Blindness event in San Francisco.[23][24] In May 2012, Google demonstrated for the first time how Google Glass could be used to shoot videos.[25]

Google provided four prescription frame choices for $225 and free with the purchase of any new Glass unit. Google entered in a partnership with the Italian eyewear company Luxottica, owners of the Ray-Ban, Oakley, and other brands, to offer additional frame designs.[26] In June 2014, Nepal government adopted Google Glass for tackling poachers of wild animals and herbs of Chitwan International Park and other parks listed under World heritage sites. In January 2015, Google ended the beta period of Glass (the "Google Glass Explorer" program).[27][28]

Release date

In early 2013, interested potential Glass users were invited to use a Twitter message, with hashtag #IfIHadGlass, to qualify as an early user of the product. The qualifiers, dubbed "Glass Explorers" and numbering 8,000 individuals, were notified in March 2013, and were later invited to pay $1,500 and visit a Google office in Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco, to pick up their unit following "fitting" and training from Google Glass guides. On May 13, 2014, Google announced a move to a "more open beta", via its Google Plus page.[29]

In February 2015, The New York Times reported that Google Glass was being redesigned by former Apple executive Tony Fadell, and that it would not be released until he deemed it to be "perfect".[30]

In July 2017 it was announced that the second iteration, the Google Glass Enterprise Edition, would be released in the US for companies such as Boeing.[16]. Google Glass Enterprise Edition has already been successfully used by Dr. Ned Sahin to help children with autism learn social skills.[31]


  • Touchpad: A touchpad is located on the side of Google Glass, allowing users to control the device by swiping through a timeline-like interface displayed on the screen.[32] Sliding backward shows current events, such as weather, and sliding forward shows past events, such as phone calls, photos, circle updates, etc.
  • Camera: Google Glass has the ability to take 5 Mp photos and record 720p HD video.[33]
  • Display: The Explorer version of Google Glass uses a liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS)(based on an LCoS chip from Himax), field-sequential color system, LED illuminated display.[34] The display's LED illumination is first P-polarized and then shines through the in-coupling polarizing beam splitter (PBS) to the LCoS panel. The panel reflects the light and alters it to S-polarization at active pixel sensor sites. The in-coupling PBS then reflects the S-polarized areas of light at 45° through the out-coupling beam splitter to a collimating reflector at the other end. Finally, the out-coupling beam splitter (which is a partially reflecting mirror, not a polarizing beam splitter) reflects the collimated light another 45° and into the wearer's eye.[35][36][37]



Google Glass applications are free applications built by third-party developers. Glass also uses many existing Google applications, such as Google Now, Google Maps, Google+, and Gmail. Many developers and companies have built applications for Glass, including news apps, facial recognition, exercise, photo manipulation, translation, and sharing to social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.[38][39][40] Third-party applications announced at South by Southwest (SXSW) include Evernote, Skitch, The New York Times, and Path.[41]

On March 23, 2013, Google released the Mirror API, allowing developers to start making apps for Glass.[42][43] In the terms of service, it was stated that developers may not put ads in their apps or charge fees;[44] a Google representative told The Verge that this might change in the future.[45]

On May 16, 2013, Google announced the release of seven new programs, including reminders from Evernote, fashion news from Elle, and news alerts from CNN.[46] Following Google's XE7 Glass Explorer Edition update in early July 2013, evidence of a "Glass Boutique", a store that will allow synchronization to Glass of Glassware and APKs, was noted.[47]

Version XE8 made a debut for Google Glass on August 12, 2013. It brings an integrated video player with playback controls, the ability to post an update to Path, and lets users save notes to Evernote. Several other minute improvements include volume controls, improved voice recognition, and several new Google Now cards.

On November 19, 2013, Google unveiled its Glass Development Kit, showcasing a translation tool Word Lens, a cooking program AllTheCooks, and an exercise program Strava among others as successful examples.[48][49] Google announced three news programs in May 2014 – TripIt, FourSquare and OpenTable – in order to entice travelers. On June 25, 2014, Google announced that notifications from Android Wear would be sent to Glass.[50]

The European University Press published the first book to be read with Google Glass on October 8, 2014, as introduced at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The book can be read as a normal paper book or – enriched with multimedia elements – with Google Glass, Kindle, on Smartphone and Pads on the platforms iOS and Android.[51]


Google offers a companion Android and iOS app called MyGlass, which allows the user to configure and manage the device.[52]

Voice activation

Other than the touchpad, Google Glass can be controlled using just "voice actions". To activate Glass, wearers tilt their heads 30° upward (which can be altered for preference) or simply tap the touchpad, and say "O.K., Glass." Once Glass is activated, wearers can say an action, such as "Take a picture", "Record a video", "Hangout with [person/Google+ circle]", "Google 'What year was Wikipedia founded?'", "Give me directions to the Eiffel Tower", and "Send a message to John"[53] (many of these commands can be seen in a product video released in February 2013).[54] For search results that are read back to the user, the voice response is relayed using bone conduction through a transducer that sits beside the ear, thereby rendering the sound almost inaudible to other people.[55]

Healthcare Benefits

Hospital Utilization

Augmedix developed an app for the wearable device that allows physicians to live-stream the patient visit and claims it will eliminate electronic health record problems, possibly saving them up to 15 hours a week[56] and improving record quality. The video stream is passed to remote scribes in HIPAA secure rooms where the doctor-patient interaction is transcribed. Ultimately, allowing physicians to focus on the patient. Hundreds of users[57] were evaluating the app as of mid-2015.[58]

In July 2013, Lucien Engelen commenced research on the usability and impact of Google Glass in the health care field. As of August 2013, Engelen, based at Singularity University and in Europe at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, was the first healthcare professional in Europe to participate in the Glass Explorer program.[59] His research on Google Glass (starting August 9, 2013) was conducted in operating rooms, ambulances, a trauma helicopter, general practice, and home care as well as the use in public transportation for visually or physically impaired. Research included taking pictures, videos streaming to other locations, dictating operative log, having students watch the procedures and tele-consultation through Hangout. Engelen documented his findings in blogs,[60] videos,[61] pictures, on Twitter,[62] and on Google+,[63] with research ongoing as of that date.

In June 2014, Google Glass' ability to acquire images of a patient's retina ("Glass Fundoscopy") was publicly demonstrated for the first time at the Wilmer Clinical Meeting at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine by Dr. Aaron Wang and Dr. Allen Eghrari.[64] This technique was featured on the cover of the Journal for Mobile Technology in Medicine for January 2015.[65] Doctors Phil Haslam and Sebastian Mafeld demonstrated the first application of Google Glass in the field of interventional radiology. They demonstrated how Google Glass could assist a liver biopsy and fistulaplasty, and the pair stated that Google Glass has the potential to improve patient safety, operator comfort, and procedure efficiency in the field of interventional radiology.[66]

Surgeries and Procedures

On June 20, 2013, Rafael J. Grossmann, a Venezuelan doctor practicing in the U.S., was the first surgeon to demonstrate the use of Google Glass during a live surgical procedure.[67] In August 2013, Google Glass was used at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University. Surgeon Dr. Christopher Kaeding used Google Glass to consult with a distant colleague in Columbus, Ohio. A group of students at The Ohio State University College of Medicine also observed the operation on their laptop computers. Following the procedure, Kaeding stated, "To be honest, once we got into the surgery, I often forgot the device was there. It just seemed very intuitive and fit seamlessly."[68]

On June 21, 2013, Spanish doctor Pedro Guillen, chief of trauma service of Clínica CEMTRO of Madrid, also broadcast a surgery using Google Glass.[69] In July 2014, the startup company Surgery Academy, in Milan, Italy, launched a remote training platform for medical students. The platform is a MOOC that allows students to join any operating theater thanks to Google Glass worn by surgeon.[70][71] Also in July 2014, This Place released an app, MindRDR, to connect Glass to a Neurosky EEG monitor to allow people to take photos and share them to Twitter or Facebook using brain signals. It is hoped this will allow people with severe physical disabilities to engage with social media.[72]

Australian Breastfeeding Association

In Australia, during January 2014, Melbourne tech startup Small World Social collaborated with the Australian Breastfeeding Association to create the first hands-free breastfeeding Google Glass application for new mothers.[73] The application, named Google Glass Breastfeeding app trial, allows mothers to nurse their baby while viewing instructions about common breastfeeding issues (latching on, posture etc.) or call a lactation consultant via a secure Google Hangout, who can view the issue through the mother's Google Glass camera.[74] The trial was successfully concluded in Melbourne in April 2014, with 100% of participants breastfeeding confidently.[75]


Brain Power

Several groups began developing Google Glass based technologies to help children with autism learn about emotion and facial expressions. The first of these was developed by Brain Power who published the first academic paper on the use of Google Glass technology in children with autism[76].[77][78] Brain Power launched a clinical trail in 2017 known as the "Be Yourself."[79] Brain Power was founded by Dr. Ned T. Sahin.[80] Dr. Ned T. Sahin based the entire clinical trail upon the concept that every child or adult with autism is different. In order to gather this research he travelled into neighborhoods and visited schools. There, he was able to develop a more visual understanding of just a few of the daily challenges children with autism face. Dr. Ned T. Sahin states that he’s "not anticipating that children will use the solution 24/7. Rather, just like a parent and child may read together for an hour, they’ll spend an hour a day interacting with each other while the child wears customized Google Glass".[81]

The basis of Brain Power is to create a classroom that would be wearable, using the Empower Me[82] software. The trial is based on self sufficiency and focuses on "skills including emotion decoding, eye contact, speech, conversation skills, behavior and self-regulation, avoiding stress and meltdowns".[83] A category formation tool on this device, which rewards autistic individuals for properly labeling images that are shown to them. These could include images such as an apple or various animals. Another tool for these images could be a consistent image that represents a calm or soothing emotion, while could result in stress levels decreasing. Many families have had positive experiences with this technology, but has not proven to be a permanent solution for any trial member.

Google Glass Project

Recently Stanford Research has developed the Google Glass Project there is a team working on finding a way to utilize Google Glass as a tool for behavioral therapy for individuals with autism. As team manager Dennis Wall[84] stated,"We have developed a system using machine learning and artificial intelligence to automate facial expression recognition that runs on wearable glasses and delivers real-time social cues.[85]" An outward-facing camera visually displays facial expressions and developed a system to calculate eye contact. Catalin Voss, founder of the Autism Glass Project stated how flashcards are utilized,"But that doesn't always translate to real-life situations," he said. "Our idea was to try to build a more holistic aid that enables the user to recognize social cues when they actually need to receive those cues right then and there.[86]" Currently the trial is simply testing the facial expression identification theory. Two participants have publicly identified in the media where they have declared some positive and encouraging experiences. Gabby[87] Warner is a fourteen year old girl from Campbell, California. Gabby is participating in this study because she wants to validate that technology is a reliable source for educational and emotional purposes. Gabby states “It’s helped me to understand some people’s emotions. I can tell when a friend is upset better now than I could before.[88]

As of February 2018[89], Google Glass released the public statement regarding the newly designed timeline of the program. This statement declared "over the course of four months, the kids and their families will participate in the therapy. During three 20-minute sessions per day, anything a child sees while wearing Glass is recorded and saved onto a smartphone app developed by the lab. Kids and parents can then review the footage together, and the parents can point out the emotions they were feeling at specific moments. As this occurs, corresponding color-coded bars at the bottom of the screen are linked to those feelings. A red bar at the bottom of the screen means someone is upset, for example, and a yellow bar indicates they are happy … These color-coded videos help kids remember what emotions they saw and in what context." [90] Overall, this statement highlights that the Google Glass journey is very family oriented, which in most cases leads to the best results. Google glass is proving to be a powerful tool for social interaction improvements due to the strong technology and versatile presentation either smartphones or as glasses.[91]

Public Mass Media Appearances


In 2014, Voice of America Television Correspondent Carolyn Presutti and VOA Electronics Engineer Jose Vega began a web project called "VOA & Google Glass," which explored the technology's potential uses in journalism.[92] This series of news stories examined the technology's live reporting applications, including conducting interviews and covering stories from the reporter's point of view. On March 29, 2014, American a cappella group Pentatonix partnered with Voice of America when lead singer Scott Hoying wore Glass in the band's performance at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., during the band's worldwide tour – the first use of Glass by a lead singer in a professional concert.[93]

In the fall of 2014, The University of Southern California conducted a course called "Glass Journalism," which explored the device's application in journalism.[94]

The WWF as of mid-2014 used Google Glass and UAVs to track various animals and birds in the jungle, which may be the first use of the device by a non-profit, Non-governmental Organization (NGO).[95]

Public Events

In 2014, the International Olympic Committee Young Reporters program took Google Glass to the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games and put them on a number of athletes from different disciplines to explore novel point of view filmmaking.

A visually impaired dancer, Benjamin Yonattan, used Google Glass to overcome his chronic vision condition. In 2015, Yonattan performed on the reality television program America's Got Talent.[96]


Privacy concerns

Concerns have been raised by various sources regarding the intrusion of privacy, and the etiquette and ethics of using the device in public and recording people without their permission.[97][98][99] Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, claims that Glass could be seen as a way to become even more isolated in public, but the intent was quite the opposite: Brin views checking social media as a constant "nervous tic," which is why Glass can notify the user of important notifications and updates and does not obstruct the line of sight.[100]

Additionally, there is controversy that Google Glass would cause security problems and violate privacy rights.[101][102][103] Organizations like the FTC Fair Information Practice work to uphold privacy rights through Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPS), which are guidelines representing concepts that concern fair information practice in an electronic marketplace.[104]

Privacy advocates are concerned that people wearing such eyewear may be able to identify strangers in public using facial recognition, or surreptitiously record and broadcast private conversations.[1] The "Find my Face" feature on Google+ functions to create a model of your face, and of people you know, in order to simplify tagging photos.[105] However, the only current app that can identify strangers is called MORIS (Mobile Offender Recognition and Identification System), and is a $3,000 iPhone app used by police officers.

Some companies in the US have posted anti-Google Glass signs in their establishments.[106][107] In July 2013, prior to the official release of the product, Stephen Balaban, co-founder of software company Lambda Labs, circumvented Google’s facial recognition app block by building his own, non-Google-approved operating system. Balaban then installed face-scanning Glassware that creates a summary of commonalities shared by the scanned person and the Glass wearer, such as mutual friends and interests.[108] Also created was Winky, a program that allows a Google Glass user to take a photo with a wink of an eye, while Marc Rogers, a principal security researcher at Lookout, discovered that Glass can be hijacked if a user could be tricked into taking a picture of a malicious QR code, demonstrating the potential to be used as a weapon in cyberwarfare.[109]

In February 2013, a Google+ user noticed legal issues with Glass and posted in the Glass Explorers community about the issues, stating that the device may be illegal to use according to the current legislation in Russia and Ukraine, which prohibits use of spy gadgets that can record video, audio or take photographs in an inconspicuous manner.[110]

Concerns were also raised in regard to the privacy and security of Glass users in the event that the device is stolen or lost, an issue that was raised by a US congressional committee. As part of its response to the committee, Google stated that a locking system for the device is in development. Google also reminded users that Glass can be remotely reset.[47] Police in various states have also warned Glass wearers to watch out for muggers and street robbers.[111]

Lisa A. Goldstein, a freelance journalist who was born deaf, tested the product on behalf of people with disabilities and published a review on August 6, 2013. In her review, Goldstein states that Google Glass does not accommodate hearing aids and is not suitable for people who cannot understand speech. Goldstein also explained the limited options for customer support, as telephone contact was her only means of communication.[112]

Several facilities have banned the use of Google Glass before its release to the general public, citing concerns over potential privacy-violating capabilities. Other facilities, such as Las Vegas casinos, banned Google Glass, citing their desire to comply with Nevada state law and common gaming regulations which ban the use of recording devices near gambling areas.[113] On October 29, 2014, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) announced a ban on wearable technology including Google Glass, placing it under the same rules as mobile phones and video cameras.[114]

There have also been concerns over potential eye pain caused by users new to Glass.[115] These concerns were validated by Google's optometry advisor Dr. Eli Peli of Harvard, though he later partly backtracked due to the controversy which ensued from his remarks.[115][116][117]

Concerns have been raised by cyber forensics experts at the University of Massachusetts who have developed a way to steal smartphone and tablet passwords using Google Glass. The specialists developed a software program that uses Google Glass to track finger shadows as someone types in their password. Their program then converts the touchpoints into the keys they were touching, allowing them to catch the passcodes.[118]

Another concern regarding the camera application raises controversy to privacy. Some people are concerned about how the product has the capability of recording during events such as conversations. The device sets off a light to indicate that it is recording but many speculate that there will be an app to disable this.[119]

Safety considerations

Concerns have also been raised on operating motor vehicles while wearing the device. On July 31, 2013 it was reported that driving while wearing Google Glass was likely to be banned in the UK, being deemed careless driving, therefore a fixed penalty offense, following a decision by the Department for Transport.[120]

In the US, West Virginia state representative Gary G. Howell introduced an amendment in March 2013 to the state's law against texting while driving that would include bans against "using a wearable computer with head mounted display." In an interview, Howell stated, "The primary thing is a safety concern, it [the glass headset] could project text or video into your field of vision. I think there's a lot of potential for distraction."[121]

In October 2013, a driver in California was ticketed for "driving with monitor visible to driver (Google Glass)" after being pulled over for speeding by a San Diego Police Department officer. The driver was reportedly the first to be fined for driving while wearing a Google Glass.[122] While the judge noted that "Google Glass fell under 'the purview and intent' of the ban on driving with a monitor", the case was thrown out of court due to lack of proof the device was on at the time.[123]

In November 2014, Sawyer et al., from the University of Central Florida and the US Air Force Research Laboratory, published the results of comparative study in a driving simulator. Subjects were asked to use either Google Glass or a smartphone-based messaging interface and were then interrupted with an emergency event. The Glass-delivered messages served to moderate but did not eliminate distracting cognitive demands. A potential passive cost to drivers merely wearing the Glass was also observed. Messaging using either device impaired driving as compared to driving without multi-tasking.[124]

In February 2014, a woman wearing Google Glass claimed she was verbally and physically assaulted at a bar in San Francisco after a patron confronted her while she was showing off the device, allegedly leading a man accompanying her to physically retaliate. Witnesses suggested that patrons were upset over the possibility of being recorded.[125]

Terms of service

Under the Google Glass terms of service for the Glass Explorer pre-public release program, it specifically states, "You may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person. If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google's authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty." Wired commented on this policy of a company claiming ownership of its product after it had been sold, saying: "Welcome to the New World, one in which companies are retaining control of their products even after consumers purchase them."[126] Others pointed out that Glass was not for public sale at all, but rather in private testing for selected developers, and that not allowing developers in a closed beta to sell to the public is not the same as banning consumers from reselling a publicly released device.[127]

Technical specifications

For the developer Explorer units version 1:

  • Android 4.4[128]
  • 640×360 Himax HX7309 LCoS display[6][34]
  • 5-megapixel camera, capable of 720p video recording[8]
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g[8]
  • Bluetooth[8]
  • 16 GB storage (12 GB available)[8]
  • Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 SoC 1.2Ghz Dual(ARMv7)[6]
  • 1 GB RAM[129]
  • 3 axis gyroscope[130]
  • 3 axis accelerometer[130]
  • 3 axis magnetometer (compass)[130]
  • Ambient light sensing and proximity sensor[130]
  • Bone conduction audio transducer[8]

For the developer Explorer units version 2, RAM was expanded to 2 GB and prescription frames were made available:

  • all of the features from the Explorer version 1 plus:
  • 2 GB RAM[131]
  • Prescription frames available[132]

The new Google Glass Enterprise Edition improves upon previous editions with the following[133]

  • Intel Atom processor
  • Dual-band 802.11n/ac wifi
  • Assisted GPS & GLONASS
  • Barometer
  • 32GB storage memory
  • 780 mAh battery

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Further reading

  • "Doctors among Early Adopters of Google Glass," Canadian Medical Association Journal, September 30, 2013. Web. October 11, 2014.
  • "Evaluation of Google Glass Technical Limitations on Their Integration in Medical Systems", 'Sensors' 2016, 16(12), 2142; doi:10.3390/s16122142
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