Google Glass Road Show coming to Boston
Jessica Ridilla wears her Google Glass in the biology lab at Brandeis University, filming experiments with the attached camera on the high-tech spectacles.
She also dons the device at concerts, the airport, and on the street — anywhere she thinks a tiny, voice-controlled computer might come in handy.
"It's almost like a little personal assistant," said Ridilla, a 29-year-old post-doctoral researcher.
Google is trying to get more people to think of Glass as Ridilla does — not merely as a professional tool or even a novelty, but as an everyday accessory. The tech giant has been touring the country since last fall, holding public demonstrations where anyone with an interest can play with the device.
Next stop: Boston. A team from Google will demo Glass on Saturday at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts. The event is free open to the public, with demonstrations held throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ridilla, for example, plans to bring several friends to show them what Glass can do.
Glass is still in the prototype phase, and Google remains cagey about the details of an eventual public release. But the Glass Road Show is clearly part of a strategy to inject the device into the mainstream.
The ones in circulation now belong to "Glass explorers" — Google's term for beta testers willing to shell out $1,500 — who are mostly software developers and people with workplace uses in mind. At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, for instance, emergency room doctors now use the wearable computers for hands-free viewing of medical records.
And everyone else? Google touts features that it says anybody would find useful. A Glass wearer driving or walking in an unfamiliar place can view turn-by-turn directions on the miniature screen positioned in the top, right corner of the frames. As landmarks and attractions come into view, Glass can recognize them and provide information and recommendations to the user. It can even translate signs printed in foreign languages into English.
Other features include photo, video, Web browsing, and the ability to make phone calls and send text messages when connected to a cellphone.
The functions are helpful, but can easily be found on existing devices. Google is betting that people will pay for Glass because it frees them from burying their heads in screens.
"People are always looking down instead of connecting with the real world," said Google spokesman Matthias Meyer. "Glass is all about making technology useful and helpful without getting in the way."