Exploring Google Glass: A non-nerd's guide (and wish list)

Exploring Google Glass: A non-nerd's guide (and wish list)

Summary: Does Glass have any appeal or potential for the average consumer? Possibly...but it won't be easy for Google to get there.


Google Glass is arguably the most buzzworthy gadget du jour, but there are plenty of critics (or naysayers, haters, realists -- pick your party) who are questioning the staying power behind the fancy spectacles.

See also: Exploring Google Glass: A fitting appointment, step-by-step (slideshow)

In order for Glass to establish a market, it's going to need to fill voids and wedge its way into everyday life.

(Not to mention it's going to need to get over a certain image problem. For reference, see the "White Men Wearing Google Glass" Tumblr, which has sparked a firestorm, suggesting that Glass could go the way of the pocket protector if Google isn't careful.)


In response (or maybe in defense of Glass), ZDNet's esteemed editor-in-chief Larry Dignan thought I should give it a go in outlining a "non-nerd's guide" to using Glass -- if such a thing is even possible. CNET's Stephen Shankland quipped to me on Wednesday that is comparable to trying to write about Lamborghinis for non car-enthusiasts.

Nevertheless, I think in the future such a guide is possible...when there are more apps available for Glass. The problem (at least right now) is that there aren't enough things to do with Glass yet to justify a $1,500 price tag.

With the core features already onboard, here's how Google Glass can be put to use by just about anyone:

  • Directions: Why bother looking down at your phone when Glass can offer step-by-step navigation right in front of your eyes? There are fans on both sides of the road when it comes to using Glass while driving. But if you're walking down the street (and remember to look both ways when crossing), Glass directions keep your eyes off the sidewalk and facing forward.
  • Search: Apple's integration of Siri on the iPhone 4S made voice search look less crazy when walking down the street. Using the Galaxy Nexus smartphone, I had far better luck using Google Voice Search technology. The voice recognition system on Glass seems on par as the headset has returned relevant and quick results instantly without an errors over the last few days.
  • Photos: This is the most obvious and most advertised feature on Glass. The video recording feature was basically the star of the outrageous show when Glass was unveiled at Google I/O last year. Much like on smartphones and tablets, photos and videos are instantly uploaded to a user's Google+ account. Wearers can also instantly share this content publicly or with their Circles directly from the Glass interface.
  • News: The New York Times already has an app ready to go, so catching up with basic headlines and snippets from breaking news stories is a helpful function while on-the-go.
  • Email: This one works much like the news reader. Users could potentially send longer emails through narration, but a quick reply (sort of like a vocal text) would probably work best. (A Gmail account is required for setting up Glass, and I highly doubt Google will add support for any other email client soon...if ever.)
  • Path: If you're on Path, then like Google+, you can share content directly to the more private social network. Theoretically, you could then share the same content to other social networks you have linked to Path (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) by making an extra step on the desktop or mobile version. (That is, of course, if you are a Path user.)

For what else I want to see on Glass, read more >>

Photos: James Martin, CNET

Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Hardware, Smartphones

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  • the look

    the number one point will be: how acceptable is the look with such a device partially hidding your eye? People will think you are tecnically crazy.
    What they have to do first is how to integrate it with nornal glasses
    • At some time in the future...

      I expect it to just replace an earpiece of normal glasses.
      • Nerd

        A "non-nerd" and Google glass user's guide should not appear in the same sentence.
        • Or maybe the title should be

          "Google Glass - Wear it to filter out all the Microsoft Trolls while reading ZdNet's blogs"

          By word scanning and keeping a history of, Say LoveRock's past rants against anything not Microsoft, an unsuspecting reader could have quick reference to past comments and factual data about the subject of the article being discussed to aid in decision making and would quickly know to dismiss his rants.

          A great example would be how agriculture began embracing computer aided decision making many years ago. Yes FARMERS are far more open minded about technology that the majority of the commenters here at ZdNet on an average day. Analyzing the effects of the environment (weather, soil conditions, etc.) on plants during the growing season along with knowing when pests and pathogens will emerge (because they will at some point emerge to destroy the crop) a farmer can be much more efficient at growing his/her crop and thus produce more with less resources and less environmental impact. Keep in mind that for some time now the global population has been increasing fasted than our ability to produce food and fiber for clothing.

          Plant physiology is very complex and the amount of data that has to be crunched to pair the plant growth cycles and those of pests and pathogens with the environment is staggering. I like cotton. It is one of the greatest natural resources in the modern world for clothing and feeding us. Yes I said feeding. Cotton fiber and cotton seed oil are used in food products on a large scale.

          Cotton is a tree. We grow it as if it were a plower and encourage seed production, then kill it so we can harvest the seed pods and the lint the cotton plant produces to protect its seeds. To do this the cotton farmer must keep a constant vigil on how the crop is growing and the environmental conditions it is growing in. Growing cotton is very hands-on and in-field scouting is a big part of that process. A device such as Google Glass would fit right in to that industry as it would in most food production crops, as well.
          • Bit behind the time with your farming tip!

            Why go out at all when remote cameras and sensors are already used.
            No need to leave the farm house with the tech that's already in use!
          • Obviously, martin_js, you live in the city and have no idea what

            farming is all about. I don't do plant farming, but I do have cattle and pigs. And I've been using a computer to help out on the farm since Windows 98. It's definitley one of the best tools to use for tracking, determining feed to milk production ratio, etc.

            And this was before the computer industry made software programs to aid in farming. But stay in the house? Not possible....

          • Really martin_js?

            You should only comment on subjects you really do know something about.

            But I'll give you one other to think about. An other area of agriculture I have plenty of Tech experience in after 11 years in the industry. Many years ago the Gulf Coast States began seeing mariculture (intense farming of marine animals) as a viable business. One of the most difficult and profitable was the farming of shrimp. As a natural resource natural shrimp production has been in decline due to pollution and over shrimping.

            The first shrimp farms did pretty well in competing with shrimp caught in the wild. Then a flood of cheap Asian farmed shrimp entered the US marketplace. This put most of the shrimp farmer out of business. It also raised some very red flags. Asian farm raised shrimp were found to not be safe to eat in many cases for several reasons. In China shrimp were fed human waste and almost all of the Asian shrimp were infected with a disease that was rapidly spreading. Just disposing of the infected shrimp into local waters will spread the disease to the local population.

            Today new methods of intense farming of shrimp are being developed. There are two leading shrimp research labs in my area. I have done Tech work for both. The intense raising of shrimp in close confines is a tricky venture at best and takes a lot of data crunching to know what is going on today and what to expect tomorrow with the shrimp crop. To make matters even more complicated both research labs are developing food products for the farming of shrimp.

            What do shrimp eat? Shrimp eat Algae. The higher and better the oil content of the algae the better the food will be for the shrimp. This high quality algae is also desired by the US military to produce high quality jet fuel in the very near future. So shrimp farming may help solve our energy problems of the near future. Google Glass apps written to aid in this research will greatly excel the development and help the researchers digest the overwhelming amount of data they deal with. Hands free monitoring and photo documenting of shrimp and algae growing conditions and the ability to stream such data to the scientist who are crunching the data in real time will be a big upside to the industry.

            But go ahead and post more stupid, perverted ways you can think of to use such a product in true Luddite tradition to try and taint the perception of such a product. You and the other trolls here are just showing the rest of us that you have an agenda that is transparent.
          • Glass for Crop Scouting (Cotton as an example)

            Just ran across your post from May. Ironically, I did what you suggested with crop scouting in cotton a few months ago. The proof of concept worked great. You were right.
    • The Glass is all empty

      Another gizmo for people with no life.
      • you mean...

        don't you mean, another gizmo for perverts, criminals, child molesters, and people who sold their sole to the advertisers?

        Why don't you keep your unintelligent comments to yourself. You're just embarrassing your kind.
        • Another gizmo for Beef growers...

          I like a thick juicy steak, cook medium over an open flame. Do you know what it takes these days to produce quality beef for the US consumer market?

          Thata ok. Most folks don't realize how much data and tracking goes into raising cattle for food production.
          Face recognition of cows may sound silly to you but that would be a big advantage for beef producers. Today the closest thing we have to that are the ear tags fitted to cows at a young age. without a history the cow can not enter the human food chain. It is for our protection not so that cowboys know which cows they like best or would like to "date" as one some of the moronic comments that may follow this post would have you believe.

          It is difficult enough managing large herds of cattle but to ad to that difficulty the cows all need regular medical attention, among other things. Breeding of pinned animals needs to be controled and ear tags have to be read to track each and every one ot the beasts. But a Google Glass face recognition app for cows could make the job a lot faster and less costly for the producers. Being able to get a history of each cow or steer at a glance will make the 21st centry cowboy a model of efficiency and bring better beef products to the consumer.

          The same applies to chickens and other animals for food production.
          • so, what you're saying is...

            ...that the microchip technology used for other animals isn't workable with beef cows? Why would it be better to have to get a clear view and line up a shot of a cow's face in order to get info about the animal, rather than instantaneously downloading the info after wireless-ly reading the chip from afar?
            Schla Cter
          • Because that info doesn't include views of any injuries

            health or external identification of location.
          • Re: so what you're saying is....

            The tags don't last, cows are always rubbing their heads against fence posts, trees, etc. We actually used to take pics of the cows and use tags, but the tags were only for the Holsteins,(dairy cows), and the pics were for the Heredfords (beef).

            Works quite well, but the tags can cause infections as well. I never used any facial recognition software, but it sounds like it would be a pretty good idea.

            dances with trolls is spot on with what he's posting.

          • Also, when we have to treat beef and dairy cows

            there is a waiting time before you can put the cow's milk in the tank/ or slaughter the beef cow. The penicillan or other meds need time to vacate the animals system. Much easier to track with the computer these days than by memory.

          • Missing the point...

            In fact, you're reinforcing it. No matter how high tech farming goes, it will continue to be an ever decreasing % of the population engaged as a career. You're contributions to this discussion only serve to illustrate that nerddom can and does cross many social, geographical and economic lines. "21st century cowboy" indeed.

            To be clear, I'm not disputing the application scenarios you describe, but they don't speak to the non-nerd population. You're an agri-nerd. No shame in it, but don't hold it up as an example of how Glass speaks to the needs of the masses.
        • The Hive continues to coalesce

          Why would people sell the bottom of their feet to advertisers??? Am I missing a chance to profit?

          Speaking of unintelligent comments, could you possibly have been referring to "souls"?

          Mind you, I also take umbrage with the comment from radu.m. I actually believe wearable, accessible , mobile technology will untether people from their televisions and desktop computers, allowing them to enjoy the world without disconnecting from their virtual networks.

          This is the inevitable evolution of mobile access to the internet.
        • you really need to take your valium msticlaru

          how you got pervs out of "another gizmo for people with no life" boggles the mind. So you are free to jump to stupid conclusions while others can't opine on the same subject????
          • I just lump you in with the rest of the tin foil hat crowd...

            I'm simply jumping to the obvious conclusion that you side with the others who, despite being a drain on society as it is, feel it necessary to make sweeping generalizations about people and topics they know nothing about.

            In fact, glass allows people who might otherwise have a life, step OUT and enjoy more of the world. Generally speaking, people on your side of the digital divide see anything new as "evil" and anyone who adopts new tech as some soulless creature bent on taking advantage of everyone around them.

            Spend a few minutes browsing comment sections like this, and you will realize that the majority of people, not only have no idea what glass is or can do, but immediately assume its for the criminally minded (real time video video surveillance, sneaky perverted videos and pictures... government wiretapping.. ) and its absurd.

            Don't take my word for it, do your own research. The general population thinks glass is some full 3d heads up display feeding the user information 24/7 about everything around them, in fact it is merely a convenient way access quickly obtainable data. a birthday, a calendar reminder, a text notification, you can't even READ the text in glass.. let alone read web articles, watch movies, have chats.. etc.

            the level of ignorance that people who frequent these comments display is mind numbing.
          • Boy

            It must be really hard being as smart as you are. Having to deal with the ignorant illiterates day in and day out.