By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
According to Kyle Samani, CEO of Pristine, which is developing a surgical app for Google Glass, people need to think hard about what glass can do and what it really shouldn’t do before they begin developing apps for it.
For example, Glass has a tiny little screen that shows maybe 40-50 words at a time. It’s not a content machine and trying to use it for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is just frustrating, he explained. Glass just came out with its first web browser which allows you to zoom in and out and scroll up and down, but who wants to do that on a screen the size of a fingernail if you’ve got your smart phone in your pocket?
In fact, there’s a very narrow range of uses for Glass. And all Glass apps have to make infinitely more sense on that device than they do on the phone to have a prayer of success, Samani said. If apps for the device can’t justify its existence and its price—which Samani believes will go from $1,500 to around $250 by December 2013—Glass will fail. Oh and by the way, Samani, who spoke for about 70 developers at a Bleeding Edge Web/Google Glass Meetup at Capital Factory Tuesday night, believes all the low-hanging fruit for Glass apps will be snatched up within two years, starting this past May. He is the founder of the Austin Google Glass meetup. Tuesday was their first meeting.
If You’re Going to Do it Anyway…
So what’s an app developer to do? Consider these perspectives Samani shared:
• Google Glass has three advantages: It’s got a heads-up display, it’s hands-free and it’s friction free (meaning it’s always there). If your app doesn’t need to be any of those things, don’t develop it for Glass.
• It can’t superimpose augmented reality over reality.
• The track pad is “a frustrating piece of shit” and only lets you see one thing at a time. A worthy Glass app must focus on what the wearer is doing right now. Looking for historical information is a pain.
• Something that relies on voice commands rather than the scrolling function will probably go over better. Short, simple commands are best.
• Its best consumer use is probably for hobbies like bicycling, knitting, cooking where you can get reference information while you’re doing your thing. It’s not good for noisy places like bars where you’d have to scream “Ok Glass!” over all the noise to get it to function.
• Text should be white on black with most important information at the bottom
• It has definite uses for enterprise including mechanics, doctors, florists, artists and others who work with their hands.
“There is a cost to wearing the device,” Samani said. “You look funny. It’s always there. You could drop it and break it….apps have to be so good that they warrant the cost, not only price of buying it but of day to day use and usability.”
Google, of course, has its own development guidelines:
1. Design for glass
2. Don’t get in the way
3. Keep it timely
4. Avoid the unexpected
An Unknown Future
But a lot is unknown about Glass’s future. Doubtless both the hardware and the software will improve. But what rules may be imposed on the device? Will it be illegal to wear while driving, for example? What about hacks like the one Samani and his partner, Patrick Kolencherry, installed on the device that allow you to take a photo by winking your right eye? Evidently the device can tell the tensionless motion of a blink from the muscle-tense wink, and responds. Does that violate privacy laws?
Plus, Samani said, you have to consider why someone would wear glass. His list of reasons:
1. To enhance a hobby.
2. Because you love (adequate) pictures.
3. Because you live in northern California.
4. Because you work for Google.
5. Because you’re a geek like that.