Glass and Friends

AH Primetime: Glass Developers Claim that Even With GDK, Google is Leaving Them Blind

November 25, 2013 - Written By Cory McNutt

Google Glass has made it into the news, yet again, and why not, as it will be one of the hottest items ever released to the public.  Google knows that in order for Glass to be successful, it must have plenty of cool applications to make it useful immediately upon their release.  In order for this to happen, Google must give the application developers the necessary tools to work with.  Ever since Google announced Glass, the app developers have been asking for more help, and the long awaited Glass Development Kit (GDK) was released last week to make it easier for them to develop their apps, but it was received with mixed reviews according to CNet.  Up until now, developers were using the Mirror API to code everything, and while the GDK helped fill in part of the puzzle, the developers claim that Google needs to give them additional support.

GDK

While developers are chomping at the bit, so to speak, to create their Google Glass masterpieces, Google has chosen, and wisely so, to pull back their reins, just a little. We must point out a couple things for Goggle’s reasoning:

  • The GDK released was a beta version, not the final version, so things can change and be improved in subsequent releases and updates
  • The product itself, Glass, is far from being finalized and design changes could negate a developer’s work
  • Google does not want its developers to go “hog wide” when neither the product or the software is completely finished, or even close to being finished

Some of the areas that have not been explored in the GDK is that of facial recognition – Google would love to open up this segment, but are worried about privacy issues, and rightly so, as Glass has already been officially banned in certain areas and they have not even gone on sale to the public. However, there are many legitimate uses for facial recognition and Vivienne Ming, the chief scientist at tech employment firm Gild, and a visiting scholar at the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of California at Berkeley said:

What I’m most fundamentally interested in is this idea of maximizing human potential. We could do expression recognition, and use it to teach autistic children how to recognize expressions. Another helpful scenario she described for facial recognition would be to help Alzheimer’s patients remember people that they know they ought to recognize, but have forgotten.

Guy with Glass

Another area that would be helpful is how Glass can help interpret the world through that camera lens, and one such developer is Brandyn White, who is earning his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Maryland, and he is exploring how Glass can be helpful to the visual impaired, although these apps would help most anybody. He says:

For me, the most important thing is context. Take a grocery list. Glass should recognize things at the supermarket, telling you when it sees something on your list without having to actually show the list to you.
You want it to be a non-annoying friend; you want it to add value. Glass needs more of those kind of apps.

One such app is the Word Lens app, that translates language, as you look at it – the actual English translation shows up directly over the original language – useful and unobtrusive at the same time.  It works great for signs or larger print, but it cannot translate smaller print because the Glass camera cannot zoom in enough.

White claims that the GDK is helpful, but it leaves so much on the cutting room floor, and that leaves developers to fend for themselves. White and his partner started  Weariverse.com, as a place where Glass hackers and owners can share and install scripts directly to Glass. 

Many developers are also upset that no formal plan has been set up by Google as far as selling the apps so the developers can make money, as advertising in the apps has, so far, been banned. They would like to see a section of Google Play setup for Glass apps and more direction on how Google will allow them to make a profit.

So while Google is moving forward with Glass development, those doing the developing would like to see a little more help and clarification, rather than leaving it up to the developers to forge ahead on their own. Let us know in the comments or on Google+ what you think about Glass – will you be buying a pair or do you refuse to be three-eyed.