I/O 2013: Google Glass designers predict possibilities for wearable tech market

I/O 2013: Google Glass designers predict possibilities for wearable tech market

Summary: There approximately 6,000 attendees at this year's developer conference, and you can't walk a few steps without bumping into someone sporting the Android-powered specs.


SAN FRANCISCO -- Even without a major presence during the opening keynote, Glass has easily been the most popular product at Google I/O 2013.

There approximately 6,000 attendees at this year's developer conference, and you can't walk a few steps without bumping into someone sporting the Android-powered specs.

While this might be the one place on the planet still where Glass might appear mainstream to the casual observer, there is no denying that the fervor around Glass isn't dying down soon.

That's helped by the fact that Google revealed a few more notable apps in the pipeline that should make Glass more useful, including apps from Twitter and Evernote.

Hot on the heels of this morning's news, product directors and designers from the Glass team discussed the growing market for wearable technology and how developers can most effectively engage in the new ecosystem.

Isabelle Olsson, the lead industrial designer behind Glass, described that when the team started up, they wanted to make sure they weren't taking something that already existed and making incremental improvements.

"To create a new type of wearable technology, it's so ambitions and very messy at points," admitted Olsson.

"To create a new type of wearable technology, it's so ambitions and very messy at points," admitted Olsson. She outlined that the mechanism's design boils down to three key elements: lightness, simplicity and scalability.

 "Those are not just fancy words. They mean something," Olsson specified.

At the moment, Olsson said she is most excited about the modular aspect of Glass, which she explained means that the frame can be removed from the main board by removing a single screw.

She continued that opens up a world of possibilities, including applying Glass directly to a pair of prescription frames.

Olsson posited, "Now we are not only excited about Glass as a software platform, but Glass as a hardware platform."

Timothy Jordan, a Google senior developer advocate for Project Glass, reiterated that Glass was founded as both a device and a platform.

"We build glass not only for developers but us too. The core principle behind Glass is that we build upon the exact same APIs you do," added Google Glass engineer Charles Mendis, comparing the audience members to development teams at Twitter and Facebook.

Google Glass product director Steve Lee explained more about the "unprecedented" Explorer Program and why it made sense for Glass.

"We see the Explorer Program as a way to learn the possibilities with Glass," Lee commented.

"We see the Explorer Program as a way to learn the possibilities with Glass," Lee commented.

Lee described one of his "most memorable" experiences with Glass thus far when he found himself at Disneyland in the front row of a roller coaster sporting Glass a few weeks ago.

Going 50 miles per hour with hands in the air, Lee described he was able to capture the experience and share it with friends directly from the Android headset.

Quite simply, Lee called it "compelling."

The Explorer Program consisted of roughly 2,000 applicants from last year's Google I/O attendance base. Now that the Explorers have had their shot to pick up prototypes, Lee noted that the next wave will go out  "soon" to the "#IfIHadGlass" program.

For reference, approximately 8,000 people were selected from over 100,000 who applied. Otherwise, there is no other public timeline for a mass market release of Glass.

Lee exclaimed that what's exciting about that group is they're not developers but a "nice cross-section" of people ranging from athletes to dentists to hair stylists.

Looking forward, each of the panelists described what they would like to see on Glass.

Lee pointed towards more fitness applications that connect with other wearable tech products as well as exercise machines. Mendis added he'd like to see more mobile commerce possibilities, perhaps being able to price scan and pay bar codes directly from Glass.

Olsson's response garnered the most applause and laughter from the audience: "I'm really into karaoke."

However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to the future of Glass. Along with trying to establish a market for itself, there is already a firestorm about how much the benefits to Glass outweigh the privacy dangers.

While Google has released a GDK for future Glass apps, Lee acknowledged that the device can still be hacked -- either for rogue apps or more nefarious purposes.

Lee replied nervously, "By design, that's not intended."

Topics: Mobility, Apps, Google, Software Development, Web development

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Do you have to be different?

    All hype, no substance.
  • One of the possibilities for wearable tech market

    would be that as you lay there dying because you paid more attention to the glasses and not what was going on around you, you could have your life flash before your eye in actual pictures.
    William Farrel
    • Yea because...

      People don't already do that with their phones. Ever see people walking down the road with the faces in their screens and almost walk into traffic? Texting while driving?

      I am not saying that this will completely rid of all issues like that, but at least you are looking forward and up instead of straight down at the ground.
  • I'm sure the Secret Service is excited about Google Glass...

    Guess why....
    • Just make your tin foil hat

      double or triple layered and you will be fine.
  • My excitement is immeasurable

    No, really, you can't even measure it with the most sensitive EKG. The prospect of spending $1500 for this thing not only fails to raise my heartbeat the slightest bit, the comical thought of it probably lowers my blood pressure.

    The one question I'd like to know and wonder if Google has tested is the amount of damage done to ones eye when they get punched in the face staring at the wrong person while wearing them.
    • You sound...

      Like a psychopath! Congrats! It isn't going to cost 1500 first off.

      Second, they probably didn't test that. But I am sure they know how much prison time you get for destruction of property and assault and battery.
      • sadly almost none.

        Commiting a crime in the US gets you almost no jail time, no fines if you can't afford them and possibly a bit of free, taxpayer paid, health care if you are sick of injured when you are arrested and need care. The victim has to pay for their own health care or for insurance. Wait we now have Obamacare so the tax payers will probably end up paying for both the Psycho and the victim's health care.
        While I disagree with using violence to solve nonviolent intrusions I have met many who don't feel that way and you can bet some of them will think you are filming them or their child and over react.
        One day we will have implants in our eyes, MIT created a prototype several years ago, but until they do there will be no smooth move to wearable computers. I personally want one integrated in my body that monitors health issues, stimulates muscles so I can stay toned if I skip a trip to the gym and is powered off my own bioelectricity so it will burn calories.
      • Where did I say...?

        That I would be the one punching the wearer in the face? I know plenty who would without a thought, but I am not one of them.
  • Sounds like...

    A solution in search of a problem.
  • with a spoon

    Google publicity shots look like Soviet era heroic posters: soft, glistening eyes looking toward a glorious future.
    Steve Nagel
  • Google 'Glass'

    You already have 'wearable technology'. It's called your brain - use it!
  • Fair and balanced

    While there ARE some good questions to be asked regarding privacy concerns, they should also be asked of the credit reporting agencies who divulge personal information (which may be inaccurate) to alleged employers or anyone acting on behalf of an organization claiming need to know; the NSA's massive data collection and data mining operations on all US data and voice messaging; State/National government FUSION centers which collate extensive data and misinformation on US citizens, for a start.
    • Topic

      Have someone explain the word.
  • Useful applications

    A Surgeon with x -ray and other data displayed. A dentist too. A chef viewing a recipe while cooking. A carpenter viewing plans. A line cook at McDonalds getting a new order. A highway patrol officer getting a DMV while talking to a driver. A soldier getting live battlefield updates.
  • Pictures

    if you take my picture with your glass, in a public place, that's OK their is implied consent but if you store, publish, share , etc, etc you will be enjoined from doing so. Google obscures faces in street view and just because a individual doesn't have deep pockets the service, cloud, isp that stores or transmits it will be the target and rightly so.
  • Oh God no

    Google is trying something new! I bet the people that are against it are the same ones that think iOS 5 was different from 4, from 3, and so on. get over yourselves. not everyone is out to film you discreetly (are you that good looking?), and if they wanted to, they already would be. poof!
    • I thnk most of them are

      descendants of the people that ex-communicated Galileo for suggesting the earth is not the centre of the universe.
      • That there thing you mentioned...

        How about all the old-timers (mostly gone now) who swore the Moon landing was staged, and actually filmed in a desert somewhere. And the ones who say 911 was a government conspiracy, and the flat earth society. I know some people who smoke pot every day. They swear it helps them function more efficiently and drive better. They sure get cranky and out-of-sorts if they run out of it. But who am I to say they are wrong? Everyone is an advocate of things they like, or things they believe in.
        It is wiser to tell someone you disagree, then to tell them they are wrong. But oftentimes, you'll catch heat either way.
  • Evil Google Communist Empire!

    Stalin is back! Or is it Hitler?

    The Google Communists (or Nazis) finally have stopped the growth of Apple in 2012. And they stopped the growth of Microsoft way back in 2007.

    The Evil Google Empire now has nothing to stop it. They aim to control and dominate all of TVs, PCs, smartphones, game consoles, tablets, servers, cloud, cable programming, broadcast programming and now watches, cars and glasses (cannot believe even glasses need to be controlled). Next they will control shirts, pants, undergarments, nightlife, morninglife, food supply, thought production and ultimately biological human lifecyle from baby birth to death.

    All Microsoft wanted to do was control the PC ecosystem with itself at the center. It did not touch the phone, TV, server, cloud, embedded, glass, watch and shirt/pant ecosystems. Neither did it aim to control thoughts and human biology itself.

    What Google wants to do is nothing short of unspeakable horror.

    What will stop this mad Evil machine?

    Where is the US Justice department when it is needed the most?
    Unfotunately, the mad Evil machine has crunched goverment itself. Pity USA!