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Test report

Google Glass – OK Glass

Source: Google Glass / Antoine Verdon

I recently had the opportunity to test Glass for a few days. This pair of glasses created by Google superimposes a virtual layer over your field of vision via a tiny integrated screen above the right eye. There is also a tiny camera built into the frame which can be activated on demand to capture whatever is in front of you. For the moment, Glass is just a prototype being tested by 10,000 users around the world.

The uses of Glass are still relatively limited: you can read your emails, take photos and videos, view your Twitter feed or create an itinerary using Google Maps. Your hands remain conveniently free, letting you answer the phone without stopping what you're doing, or find your way somewhere by following the arrows that appear in front of you. Most controls are voice-activated (the others are activated via a tactile surface on the right arm), which means you won't go unnoticed when speaking to your glasses in public.

Until now, both fixed and portable screens have always been clearly defined areas, separate from the real world and exclusively dedicated to displaying digital information. Augmented reality, on the other hand, enables information to be directly integrated into your field of vision whenever and wherever it is relevant. This new approach could totally revolutionise how we interact with the world.

It offers enormous possibilities: imagine, for example, being able to see the text of a speech you are giving without looking at your notes. Or having the different steps of a recipe in front of you while you mix the ingredients. Or being able to race against yourself in a stadium. Or the names of mushrooms being superimposed over them while you walk in the forest. Or detailed information about a product appearing before your eyes when you look at its bar code.

Glass is still cumbersome to use (you could compare these glasses to the first mobile phones, which were a far cry from today's smartphones) and exactly what the mass-produced product will look like is not clear. Indeed, some companies are working on contact lenses with built-in screens, which should be more comfortable to wear than glasses. But one thing is certain: Google has made significant progress in the field of augmented reality over the past year, and it won't be long until the first consumer products hit the market. 

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