When I was a kid, “cool new technology” meant games like Duck Hunt and Power Pad on regular Nintendo. That was 25 years ago, and to give you an idea of how long 25 years is, take a quick look at Nintendo’s TV commercial for Power Pad when it first came out:
Each new generation of kids grows up in a very different world. Today, the Internet and mobile phones are everywhere. When I was a kid, neither existed. In 25 more years, how much more will technology change?
Although it seems like “adults” make all the decisions, today’s kids have the answer. Like it or not, kids are the ones that decide what’s cool and what’s not, both now and in the future. And as they grow up, they’ll be the ones dreaming up, building, creating, designing, and making the cool new technology the world enjoys. So when one of my friends – an elementary school art teacher in Virginia- said her 5th grade class wanted to ask me some questions about Google Glass, I was happy to answer.
In 25 short years, these kids will be making the world’s cool stuff, so we better get them pointed in the right direction. Here are a handful of their questions (and my answers) about Google Glass.
What do you see when you wear them? How can you see what is happening around you while they are on?
When you’re wearing Google Glass you don’t see anything… until you turn the screen on. You can turn it on by tapping the side of Google Glass or nodding your head in the air. When it’s on, it looks like a little computer screen is floating in the air, at the very top right. At first, it just shows a clock of the time, but by using your voice or your finger you can control Google Glass, and do things like take pictures, take videos, check sports scores, or even read and send messages to your friends.
The “floating screen” isn’t directly in front of your eye, you’ve got to look up and to the right to see it, so it doesn’t block anything when you’re walking around. It’s also partly clear, so you can see what’s behind the screen.
Here is the first video I made about Google Glass, showing exactly what it looks like to see through Google Glass:
How close are the images to your eyes? Is it hard to get used to?
The image is only a couple inches from your eye, but because it’s so small and not that bright, it looks and feels like you’re watching TV from 6 or 7 feet away. It does take some time to get used to Google Glass- at first it’s a weird feeling to have a screen attached to your face! It’s a combination of cool and weird, but after a few days, you get used to the way it looks and feels and it gets much more comfortable.
How does it work?….if you activate it with your voice or by tilting your head up, does that get confusing when you move around or talk to people?
The two ways to turn Google Glass on are by tilting up your head or by tapping the touch pad on the side. Google Glass isn’t perfect in every situation, so you need to be aware of your surroundings when deciding how to use it. If you’re in a loud place it might be hard for Glass to understand your voice. If you’re talking with a group of friends, it might be distracting if you’re moving your head around, saying voice commands, or tapping on your Glass.
Google Glass is best for doing small things, like getting answers to questions and responding to messages when your hands are full. Just like anything else, you need to be respectful of those around you when using it. If you’re using it in a way that is confusing or annoying to other people around you, it’s probably best to not use it until later.
Just like companies can make apps and games for phones and tablets, companies can also make apps and games for Google Glass. How Google Glass works in the future will depend on what great ideas people can think up. What do you think would be cool for Google Glass to do?
How accurate is the voice command?…is it better than the iPhone? B/c that one isn’t good.
Google Glass uses the same voice commands as other Android phones and tablets. From all the devices I’ve tested, I think Android (and Google Glass) have the best voice commands, but they’re still not perfect. The voice commands work best when you’re in a quiet place and can speak slowly and clearly. Google can even detect if you’ve got an accent, like Australian or British, and use that information to improve the voice commands.
Sometimes, when you’re in a loud and crowded place, Google can still understand your voice commands perfectly. They have been working hard to improve voice commands every year and it keeps on getting better and better.
Did you know you can use voice commands on your home computer, too? If you use Google Chrome you can set it up to use the same voice commands that Google Glass use and test it for yourself!
How good is the camera for photos and video?
The camera is my favorite part of Google Glass, but it is only okay compared to the camera on most phones. It needs to be smaller and lighter so it can fit on your head comfortably. The reason the Google Glass camera is so cool is that it’s always ready to go. Sometimes you miss the chance to take a picture because you can’t get your phone out of your pocket quick enough. With Google Glass it’s always right there: just press the camera button once to take a picture or hold it down to take a video.
For example, I went on a bike ride with my brother (who is a bit of a daredevil), and took the picture and video below with Google Glass. If I didn’t have Google Glass, I wouldn’t have gotten either!
It’s also hard to take good pictures or videos with Google Glass at night because there’s no flash. Here’s my family singing Happy Birthday to my dad through Google Glass… obviously I didn’t pay enough attention in music class!
Is there sound? Can everyone around you hear it or just you?
Google Glass has sound and it kind of tickles! There is a little speaker that presses against the side of your head, behind your ear, right where the glasses rest. The speaker vibrates the bone behind your ear (which tickles) and somehow – through the magic of science – your brain translates the vibrations into noise and you can hear sound even though it’s not directly in your ear.
You can also add a headphone that plugs into Google Glass and goes directly in your ear, which is really helpful for using Google Glass to make phone calls or listening to music.
Nobody around you can hear the sound unless they’re really, really close to you. Otherwise they just hear a quiet, muffled sound.
How fast/well does it translate languages for you?
Google Glass translates languages the same way that Google.com translates languages. So for example, if you went to Google and typed in “translate Hello! How are you? to Spanish” it would quickly pop up and show “Hola ¿cómo estás ?”
With Google Glass you would do almost the same thing, but instead of typing, you would say out loud:
“Okay, Google translate hello! how are you? to Spanish.”
You would then see the same translation in your Google Glass display and it would read that sentence to you out loud in Spanish.
Why is the design so ugly? I expect more from Google.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Most people agree that Google Glass looks a little big and clunky, but that’s because this is the very first version ever made. As the technology gets better the design will improve.
Just think about how big cell phones used to be:
Or how big computers used to be:
Eventually, Google Glass will improve in style and functionality, and to some degree it already has.
Did you know Google is already working on contact lenses with technology built in, directly on your eye? And it’s very possible that in 25 years, kids won’t know what driving is like… because cars will all drive themselves. In fact, the very first cars with Android in them come out this year.
So yes, we’ve come a long way in the past 25 years and we’re going to go a lot further in the next 25 years. Google Glass is one of many cool new technologies whose future depends on the upcoming generation of kids who love technology, deciding what the next cool thing should be.
So what do you think? What would make Google Glass even cooler? If you can dream up a good idea, you can make it a reality!
What the kids are saying about Glass
“I think it looks awesome! I want to try it!”
“I think it’s cool, but I think it could be intrusive for other people because of the camera capabilities. I also want to know how you charge them. And could they be solar powered?”
You’re right: Glass could be intrusive if people use it in bad or sneaky ways. There will always be new technology coming out and as a community, we need to make laws, rules, and manners about how to responsibly and respectfully use that technology. The same thing happened 15 years ago, before cell phones were popular… now all of a sudden, almost everyone has a video camera with them at all times! Lots of people think Glass is more intrusive than mobile phones, but it can’t do anything that a mobile phone can’t.
“I think they are neat because I like electronics and it’s cool that you can search on Google without having to take out your phone.”
“I don’t think people should wear them in situations that are unsafe. Especially when you are driving. That could be very dangerous with a screen to distract you.”
It’s very important to be safe when driving Vivi, I agree, which is why I’m sure you know texting and using your phone while driving is against the law. One girl got pulled over by a police officer and got a ticket for driving and using Glass!
She didn’t get in trouble, though. Glass is a little bit different, though, because it doesn’t block your view (it would look like the screen is on the top of your windshield) and you don’t have to look away from the road to see the screen. Hopefully, as Google Glass gets better and people learn more about it, they’ll come up with ideas to make sure people are using it safely!
“I think they’re a cool new technology. People have probably been trying to make them for a long time. But, they are also kind of a let down because they cost so much and you can’t drive or go to work or school with them on. But I think they will be cool as they get better.”
I think you’re right, Kaylin, they’re too expensive and limited right now but as time goes on they’ll get better. Hopefully in a few years they’ll be smaller, look cooler, cost less, and do more. And if not, there is lots of other cool new technology just around the corner!
Thanks to all the kids for their interest! I’ve closed the comments, but if you’ve got any more questions, ask your teacher to contact me and I’ll make sure to answer them.