What Is Google Glass and How Does It Function?

While still wearable tech, Google Glass differs from similar devices

Woman Wears Google Glass

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Google Glass is a wearable computing device, which comes with a head-mounted display. This smart device displays information to users in a hands-free format and also enables them to interact with the Internet via voice commands, while on the go.

What Makes Google Glass Special

Google Glass is among the most advanced wearable technologies developed. The device resembles a pair of glasses and offers excellent computing power and functionality within a slim, lightweight form factor. Small packets of information are delivered directly to the user via a micro-projector. This creates a private channel of communication exclusive to the user.

Due to its advanced features, Glass can also function as a recorder or a spy camera, recording high-quality audio, images, and even HD video by means of voice commands and hand gestures. Glass also has built-in location awareness, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and other sensors, which keep constant track of the user’s movements.

Google Glass as Mediated Reality

Glass is commonly referred to as an augmented reality (AR) device. But this is not entirely accurate. Augmented reality layers information and visuals over reality, with almost no noticeable time-lag in relaying information. Such a system requires massive amounts of processing power to render the information correctly to users.

Google Glass, on the other hand, makes use of what can be referred to as a mediated reality platform. This system, which essentially calls apps and services from the cloud, packages little bits and pieces of relevant information to users, thereby making optimal use of its available power supply, while also enabling wearers to achieve secure mobile communication.​

Field of Vision

Glass does not offer users a full field of vision. It merely places a tiny semi-transparent screen on the upper right-hand side of the device, which transmits information only to one eye. This small glass display takes up only about 5 percent of the user’s natural field of vision.

How Google Glass Projects Images Onto the Lens

Glass uses what is known as a Field Sequential Color LCOS, to project images onto its lens, thereby enabling the user to view them in true colors. While an LCOS array processes each image, the illumination is quickly passed via true red, green, and blue LEDs to be synched with the switching of color channels. This process of synchronization takes place so rapidly that it gives users the perception of a continuous stream of images in true color.