Exploring Google Glass Through Eyes of Early Users

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -

Geeks aren’t the only people wearing Google Glass.

Among the people testing Google Inc.’s wearable computer are teachers, dentists, doctors, radio hosts, hair stylists, architects, athletes and even a zookeeper.

Some 10,000 people are trying out an early version of Glass, most of them selected as part of a contest.

To get a sense of the advantages and drawbacks of the device, The Associated Press spoke to three Glass owners that have been using the device since late spring: Sarah Hill, a former broadcaster and current military veterans advocate; David Levy, a hiking enthusiast and small business owner; and Deborah Lee, a stay-at-home mom.

Glass is designed to work like a smartphone that’s worn like a pair of glasses.

The trio’s favorite feature, by far, is the hands-free camera that shoots photos and video through voice commands. (Images can also be captured by pressing a small button along the top of the right frame of Glass.) They also liked being able to connect to the internet simply by tapping on the right frame of Glass to turn it on and then swiping along the same side to scroll through a menu. That menu allows them to do such things as get directions on Google’s map or find a piece of information through Google’s search engine. The information is shown on a thumbnail-sized transparent screen attached just above the right eye, to stay out of a user’s field of vision.

Among the biggest shortcomings they cited was Glass’s short battery life, especially if a lot of video is being taken. Although Google says Glass should last for an entire day on a single battery charge for the typical user, Hill said there were times that she ran out of power after 90 minutes to two hours, during periods when she was recording a lot of video.

Glass’s speaker, which relies on a bone conduction technology, also is inadequate, according to the testers the AP interviewed. They said the speaker, which transmits sound through the skull to allow for ambient noise, can be difficult to hear in any environment other than a quiet room.

“If you are out in the street or anywhere else where there is any noise, it’s impossible to hear,” Lee said. “That has been challenging, because there is no way to adjust it. If you could adjust the sound, I think it would solve a lot of problems.”