Google stole the stage at SXSW on Tuesday when it spent an entire session getting developers excited about Glass, its very 21st-century venture into wearable computing. Honestly, the presentation sounds like it was pretty exciting. Google's top Glass evangelist Timothy Jordan led the panel and showed off apps made by everyone from Evernote to The New York Times. Since we've really only seen Glass in action while watching Google-made ads for the futuristic headset, it was a pretty cool opportunity to see what the much-hyped device can do. If you were at SXSW, anyways.
If you were not at SXSW, don't worry. We've got you covered. As conference attendees do, several people broke the rules and recorded guerrilla video of the Google Glass panel. They're a little grainy, but you can see what's going on. Jordan flips through a few native Glass features and then moves on to apps, starting with The New York Times. News is not the first use case scenario that comes to mind when thinking about Google Glass, though. How in the world are you supposed to walk around the world with a torrent of words from some random Times article about the "Harlem Shake" streaming in front of your eyes? You're not. After you see the Times headline in the so-called "timeline card" interface and make a simple flip-of-the-head, Google Glass will read the article text aloud for you.
This isn't necessarily a massive breakthrough in technology — text-to-voice applications have been around for a while — but it does make you think twice about the possibilities of Google Glass. As TechCrunch points out, though, it does set up a little rule for developers to keep text at a minimum and rely of the voiceover technology. It's also a nice little swipe at Apple, since Siri can read you your text messages but, despite some begging for the functionality, cannot read you the morning news. Suddenly, it's not just a little smartphone extension but a TV, radio, newspaper and web browser all rolled into one. You'll never need to stop consuming content again.
The demos that followed the Times's reiterated this idea. With Path, your friends photos will jump in front of your eyes as soon as you see them. A hand gesture later, you can react to the photo. With Evernote, you can tell Glass to take a photo and upload it to the Skitch collaboration suite instantly. It does email, too. Not only will Glass read your email to you, it will also transcribe and send your responses. Again, these are all tasks that you can either do or almost do with existing smartphones but the fact that the screen is in the corner of your eye and you could be driving down the Interstate while doing them is pretty innovative. Also, pretty horrifying when you consider the growing texting-and-driving epidemic.
Watch the Google portion of the Glass presentation*:
Watch the New York Times demo:
Watch The Verge's Josh Topolsky nerd out in his own demo of Glass: