The IFB News Pipe

Blog: There’s no pain in the Glass

7 July 2014

IFB Athol Glass

At IFB we are very much focused on outcomes. This covers some basic stuff, from working with clients to understanding what outcomes they need from the services we provide.  This, through a chain of processes, affects the most important outcome of all, developing the relationship to a level of like and trust and ultimately getting paid.

To increase our opportunity in how we get paid and in the volume we get paid in, we continually look at the bigger market space, the technologies and practices that are coming along in the short and medium term that have the ability to compliment and disrupt the space we are in. This does expose us to different early stage technologies and has led us to develop projects such as the first use of wide scale, open space public mesh WiFi in the UK, a Bluetooth city visitors location application for PDA’s  which also had proximity tagging for your kids. We even designed a basic but operational model for digital football stickers and albums operating on WAP before smartphones.

Getting involved in these projects always leads to more than one outcome.  How much bandwidth does it need to work? How secure can it be made? How insecure is it? What data does it generate? Where is the data stored/held/catalogued? Does it feel right?  Is there sufficient demand for it to be commercial?

Right now there is a lot of noise about wearable’s and we have been working our way through this relevant tech. Arguably smart watches will have the biggest effect as there is money keeping you alive longer and conveniently your wrist is a great place to monitor key health indicators, your immediate environment, how fast you are moving and a whole lot more. The majority of us have at least one (wrist) (and watch) and most of us like to know the time. The Pebble I  have been using for over a year now is great at telling the time, good at navigation and novel at reading your messages. It’s almost there with the next generation demands which iWatch may have covered.

Smart watches will fit in just fine.

We are also looking at the wearable which there seems to be the most noise about right now; eyewear. There are a few competing technologies out there, a couple of notables I have experience of:  Espon have the BT 200  and XOEye have Vision  but over a week ago we took delivery of our first set of Glass.

So, what are they like…really?

First of all it’s not about wearing your mobile phone, computer or tablet, sure it does some of what these things can and it can do it independently of them, but it’s not any of these devices. Like any mobile device it needs to be connected, through your phone or on a WiFi network, if you want true value from usage and ownership.

Secondly it’s not immersive, not like a wrap around head set. Think of it more like a heads up display or a picture in picture experience on a real world TV. You are aware of what is happening but you will need to refocus to give the real or digital world your attention.

Thirdly it is different to interface with, simply because you are wearing it instead of holding it,  speaking to it or swiping it instead of typing or clicking. So if you don’t like to be seen to be different, in the same way I don’t like wearing a Bluetooth headset, you will not like Glass.


The thing is, I do like it and if you are still onboard here are my upsides, and there are many I have yet to discover I am sure.

I Don’t do Instruction Manuals!

But set up was so simple,  the simplest piece of tech I have had to get out of the box and working in years. The usual out of the box firmware needed an update but it just got on with it. This includes syncing with my Google account, setting up contacts, connecting to my phone and the Glass App and WiFi network. What made is this simple was the talk through that Glass gives you step by step, right there in your face and in your ear. When I got it wrong it kept me going until I got it right.

I spend longer getting a comfortable fit on my head than the entire system set up, even this wasn’t a bother.

Once I was connected and synced, the display was clear and easy to switch my vision to and from, I wear contacts and have a -6 prescription in each eye, also I am at a certain age that bifocals are not to far off, so was a little worried about this part. Glass is easy to interface with, easy to wear simple to use once on your head.

But; does it get accents?!

Even in bright or challenging light conditions the picture was sharp and in focus and not troublesome for me. The photo and video capture is easy; point, speak, click, record then save, send or delete all laid out in a heads up menu in a logical and thought out way.

Call quality is good although sometimes I was told I sounded like Daft Punk, but making and receiving calls with Glass was intuitive and once you relaxed about talking out loud and not in to a hand set, comfortable. Hearing through the frame as it sits behind your ear and on the bone gives you a little voice inside your head rather than in your ear but voice control and activation is clear, straight forward and it understood my North East Scotland accent.

This later part perhaps too well as during a “testing” session of the voice recognition software I wanted to send a text to one of the team.  This included some direct and unprintable copy designed to challenge the Google voice recognition software, which indeed rose to the challenge. In fact it was too good as it sent the “test” copy in reply to an overlapping incoming client text. It sent it perfectly formed in full colour in all its 15 rated glory, not meant for the client. Thankfully the client understood that testing has to be done, and also was bought off with the promise of loan of Glass!

IFB Athol Glass

(Athol wants an interactive soccer training app he can used while injured!)

The apps available right now are limited to those you would think of day one, social media, mapping and navigation, Zombies (not as scary as you think) Star Chart (interactive start gazing) and news and content streaming apps. All of which have their place in the early cycle of product development could be viewed as novel but they all work well.

What does Glass have to do with IFB?

Our interest is how ever around what Glass can do for our clients.  As a piece of kit that you can slip on and wear as you want or need and use as a hands free device that lets you manage calls, messages, including emails and social media, take photos and video all in one interface. I have yet to see anything near Glass, but that’s what disruptive technology is all about, setting the bar for others to follow.

One outcome from testing Glass; is it lets us explore the demands, affects and possibilities by creating a connected, hands free, interactive work environment.  The relevance? Well right now we are involved in a project that needs this type of tool as it is all about capturing, digitising, storing and cataloguing the design, build, operation and maintenance of an Oil Platform.

Will we use Glass for prototyping this project? Yes. Will we use it in full deployment, probably not in the current version simply because we are now part of the R&D ecosystem and the competition in this space will push Google and others to make a better, more relevant and sustainable product at a more competitive price. That’s great outcome for all involved.

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