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Google Polishes Glass with Upgrades for I/O Conference

Google Polishes Glass with Upgrades for I/O Conference
By Barry Levine

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The Livestream app for Google Glass raises a variety of privacy and intellectual property issues, as neighbors may not want to be viewed by the entire planet as they cut the grass in their worst-looking shorts, and movie makers or sports teams will not want to see their movies or games made available for free, courtesy of Google Glass.
 



Google has updated its Glass product for the I/O Conference, which opened Wednesday in San Francisco. The updates include more memory, updated apps that include live streaming, and a greater emphasis on stylish glass frames.

The newest Glass will feature 2 GB of RAM, double the previous amount, which the company said allows more apps to run concurrently. A capability that had previously been available as a beta is now officially released -- live broadcasting via the Livestream app.

When the app is running, "Glassheads" can broadcast the video stream they see to others -- free if the others are also Livestream account holders, or $400 yearly for streaming to non-Livestreamers. There are a variety of professional applications, such as live streaming medical procedures to students or transmitting a technical repair to a specialist.

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The Livestream app in particular raises a variety of privacy and intellectual property issues, as neighbors may not want to be viewed by the entire planet in real time as they cut the grass in their worst-looking shorts, and movie makers or sports teams will not want to see their movies or games made available for free. For its part, Livestream's official policy prohibits unlawful, pornographic or illegal broadcasts, but, if the app becomes widely used, enforcement may be impossible.

There is also now a viewfinder feature that allows for framing a shot, and which can be enabled simply by voice command.

Two new Google Now cards have been released for Glass, which provide alerts about a package delivery and where your car is parked. Eight different styles are available for the $1,500 facepiece, and a bigger battery plus firmware updates promises 15 percent longer battery life than in previous incarnations.

While the battery upgrade was announced months ago, Google said the 15 percent increase wasn't possible until the software update went out on Wednesday.

Eleven new Glass apps are out, including sports-oriented 94Fifty Basketball to help basketball shooters, Runtastic for meeting exercise goals, Zombies Run for runners, and Goal.com for soccer fans. There's also apps for the Guardian newspaper, language learning with Duolingo, city touring with GuidiGo, and stargazing with Starchart.

'Consumer Use Case'?

Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, noted that Google has "promised a [Glass] product in 2014, and it's 2014."

He added that "it's clear they're going to commercialize this, and they've made it slightly less awkward, but it's still obvious you're wearing [something] on your face." While there are a variety of professional applications, Greengart said he's "not yet sure what the consumer use case is."

Meanwhile, Glass continues to stir up the imaginations of researchers and satirists.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell have found that video-recording from Glass and the Samsung smart watch can be used to secretly watch someone at a distance as they enter their four digit pin into an iPad. Software can then be used to determine the PIN code, with 83 percent accuracy for Glass.

The PIN detection can occur nearly 10 feet away from the PIN entry with regular resolution video, and almost 150 feet away with HD video. The software can determine the code even when the screen is not visible, but the user's motions are.

And, in a tongue-in-cheek homage to what are being called Glassholes, the Daily Show recently aired a piece about the "intolerance" shown to those who wear the face computer. One Glass-wearer seriously described the hostile reaction of bar-goers to her wearing Glass as "a hate crime."
 

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