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Imagining the future: Video on Google Glass

gg3Somewhere  in the world, around 10,000 people are wearing Google Glasses. And rumor has it that the company is aiming to release the glasses to the public near the middle of 2014. There’s much debate about how much the unit will cost, whether anyone will buy it, all the privacy issues it raises, and what sort of trail it may blaze for other wearable devices.

A study by Business Insider (BI) seems to indicate it will be a real success. BI predicts annual sales of over £800k in 2014 and 21 million by the end of 2018. The driving factor in early adoption is the cost of the unit, which BI assumes to be around £186 (or $299). Those numbers are less than the number of iPhone sales for Apple the same time period (just over 39 million units per year), but enough sales that the market isn’t one to ignore.

Of particular interest to us is the potential for watching video on the glasses. The development version included a video player with various controls, but many questions how this will work in the future still remain. The Google Glass developers guide says this:

“To ensure the optimal experience:

  • Send full screen images and video at a 16×9 aspect ratio.
  • Target a 640×360 pixel resolution.
  • Always specify both the height and width of an image. This prevents positioning reflows around an image as cards render. It also allows Glass to display a well-formatted error message if the image is not available.
  • Keep the duration of video clips between 10 and 20 seconds. Glass is a device designed for quick data consumption, so long videos are usually not appropriate for users to consume.”

Notice the last bullet says only 10-20 second videos. In an age when video consumption is increasing on mobile devices, chances are people will be watching longer videos eventually. Though Google says that isn’t the intended use, they can’t stop people from doing it. Well, they probably can since they control the operating system.

But that opens the door to work arounds by clever developers. Already there’s at least one developer who’s created an app to stream YouTube videos directly to the Glass. It isn’t an “authorised” app. In fact, you have to do a little of your own coding to side-load it into the Android operating system of the glasses. Once the devices are more mainstream, the process will likely become easier as developers work hard to make sure their apps can be used.

So in all likelihood, by the end of the next 3-5 years, we’ll all have to consider a Google Glass format for streaming video too. What do you think of Google Glass? Will it catch on like BI suggests?

Oliver Burt

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