Google Glass Unveils Voice Control Interface, Public Availability

Google today revealed a little more about its highly anticipated Project Glass, as well as a way for non-developers to get their own headsets, in a new website and video campaign. The video, entitled “How It Feels,” shows Google’s Project Glass responding to voice commands that start with the phrase “ok glass.” In the video, users are seen using the “ok glass” command to perform Internet searches, take pictures, record videos, enter Google+ hangouts and get driving directions.

While the video answers some questions, it raises many others. It hasn’t been confirmed if the previously rumored touch mouse will be missing from the Glass headset, but voice commands could conceivably replace all other forms of user input. At one part in the video, a user performs an image search for photos of Tiger Heads, but it’s not revealed how one might scroll through a large amount of image results.

Additionally, Google will have numerous challenges to overcome when implementing voice control as the main form of interaction with the device. Factors such as Wi-Fi or cellular signal strength can play a role in voice recognition time, causing a delay in picture taking or video recording commands. The “How It Feels” video even shows a two-second delay between when a Project Glass user says, “OK Glass, take a picture” and when the image is captured.

Voice commands may in fact prove to be more of a hindrance than a help to mainstream public adoption. Apple has been working hard to integrate Siri into user’s lives ever since its release in 2011, but many users still feel uncomfortable using voice commands in public. Forcing users to speak aloud to their Glass headset may hinder initial usage.

Despite these challenges, both Google and users are excited for the upcoming release. Google has launched a campaign that allows non-developers to purchase a Project Glass device. This is the first time the headset is available to the general public; previously, pre-sales were only available to developers who attended the 2012 Google I/O conference. In order to apply for a headset, users much post on Twitter or Google+ saying what they’d do with Glass, using the hashtag #ifihadglass, with 50 words or less.

Contest winners will see be required to pay the full price for a new Glass Explorer Edition headset, which costs $1500 plus tax. The headset must also be picked up, in person, in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles.

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Dann Berg
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