By now, you’ve surely heard about Google Glass, the head-mounted computer that allows the wearer to interact with data while going about their day thanks to a tiny display that hovers in the top-right corner of their vision. While this all sounds like a wonderful little slice of the future, the product has come under scrutiny recently amid privacy concerns raised by politicians, and many are wondering about the possible implications of using it in the real world.
While most reviews have been from the perspective of native English-speakers, today we stumbled upon an interesting review written by a Japanese speaker. Despite the country being considered by many to be the home of computer wizardry, Japanese people are often a little shy of new devices at first (the iPhone was positively ignored for its first year on the market), so we were keen to get a Japanese perspective.
Just a couple of paragraphs into the writeup, however, we noticed that the reviewer had stumbled upon a couple of minor problems with Google Glass.
Written by Tazunu Ishikawa for Weekly ASCII, the review starts with the basic Google Glass run down. You can connect Glass to the Internet via a smartphone or wi-fi; it’s got a touch panel on the side to control Glass with; it uses both voice commands and motion detection to navigate the interface, take photos, do searches, and respond to text messages. It all sounds great. But it was when trying to communicate with the device that Ishikawa had trouble.
▼A logo so simple, it can’t even be copyrighted, according to Wikipedia.
Since Google Glass is still in development (only 2,000 units have been shipped so far and all of them to app/software developers), it’s pretty much English only. As others have documented, there are certain English words that can be difficult for non-native speakers to pronounce. That said, voice recognition software doesn’t always correctly understand native speakers, so this isn’t just an issue for Japanese people.
Ishikawa pointed out another potential problem with Glass—they don’t fit well over real glasses. So, if you happen to need prescription spectacles, you’ll probably want to grab some contacts to use with the device. However, the reporter did mention that the screen was easy to see and had good definition, so at least your contacts will be worth the investment!
▼Nerd fashion is fashion!
In addition to taking pictures and recording videos (with consent only, please!!!), Glass is great for directions. If you can get the device to understand where you want to go. Ishikawa noted that he had some trouble getting the software to understand exactly what he was looking for. Finally, he settled on that old stand-by “Starbucks.” This really seems like a commercial waiting to be made, doesn’t it?
Another issue with language support came from social networks. Ishikawa notes that when attempting to display tweets in Japanese, Glass just threw up a bunch of question marks, suggesting that language packs have yet to be added. At least the basic functionality is there, right?
▼The most heroic-looking smartphone peripheral ever? We think so!
Overall, Weekly ASCII‘s reviewer seemed impressed with Glass. And, since it can interface with both Android phones and iPhones, searches can be culled and categorized to improve your advertising experience regardless of the smartphone you use.
We’re sure that Google will add better language support once they get closer to full production. So we can’t wait to see the results of Ishikawa vs Google’s voice recognition round two!