How Will Google Test Project Glass?

Perhaps you’ve read about Google’s Project Glass – a set of augmented reality glasses that will provide users with real-time information right before their eyes. Literally.

After waiting awhile for an appending “April Fool’s” announcement that never came, we can now safely call your attention to this project’s unique testing challenges. Before we do that, however, here’s a good description of the project from TechCrunch:

To call these things glasses may be a bit of a stretch — early rumors noted that glasses bore a striking resemblance to a pair of Oakley Thumps, but the demo images on Project Glass’s Google+ page don’t look a thing like them. Rather, they appear to be constructed of a solid metal band that runs across the brow line, with a small heads-up display mounted on the right side.

The New York Times‘ Nick Bilton, who broke the Project Glass story today, went on to say that the prototype model seen in the images is just one of the potential designs currently in testing. Among others, one of the potential designs for Project Glass is (thankfully) meant to be attached to a person’s existing pair of glasses.

It’s also worth noting that as downright magical as these things could be, there’s still very little insight into how they would actually work. Bilton’s early write-up notes that the glasses will be capable of establishing a 3G or 4G wireless connection, but how exactly Google will shoehorn those components (just to name a few) into a comfortable headset is still up the air.

After watching the demo/concept video below, it’s clear that in-the-wild testing will have to play a major part in the quality of this product (should it ever come to fruition). And judging from the comments on their Google+ page, finding real-world beta testers will not be an issue. But that’s the easy part. Here’s a look at some heavy testing challenges they are likely to encounter:

  1. Functionality: How will this product function with limited or imperfect connectivity? This is particularly important with regard to the location-based features of the product, but also true of the search functionality, video chatting and others. Google will also have to consider a wide-range of use cases. As commenter Aaron Lozano wrote: “Would love to see it tested in a school setting…particularly a medical setting or something research based where hands-free photos, internet searching, consultation, and general info would improve everything. A medical student dissecting a cadaver, a surgeon operating or performing a simple procedure that requires the use of both hands. Unlimited potential in a field like this or any other. Very excited and can’t wait to test/buy a pair!”
  2. Security: If cellphones are a distraction, we expect augmented reality glasses to doubly so. Not only must Google make this product safe to wear, but they must make it safe to use. Whatever threats exist in the world of web and mobile apps – threats like viruses, malware, identity theft, etc. -  will also be present in the world of augmented reality.
  3. Usability: Will the product be easy to use and interact with? There’s really nothing to benchmark this product against (unless you count Minority Report) so usability will be an enormous challenge. Said one user: “While this looks like a fantastic project, I do have a concern This probably won’t be deaf user-friendly. Perhaps you could incorporate some kind of hand gesture recognition – ie a virtual keyboard overlay (usable with eye tracking OR hand tracking) etc… I’m deaf and would be happy to work with you guys to figure this out.”
  4. Performance: As one commented noted: “Batteries would have to go almost all day, and the notifications popping up in the center of your field of view could lead to pedestrian and bike accidents. There should be a mode that never puts anything in the center of your vision. In the future, eye tracking for things like camera focus could be helpful. Integration with the self driving cars to see where you are in your route would be cool, but it’s a bit far off. I hope the glasses use bone conduction for audio both ways or else a crowded area or loud car could really mess with you. (not to mention random trolls on the street giving your glasses commands you don’t want.) I would absolutely love to try a pair of these out!”

What other testing challneges is Google likely to encounter with this project? Let us know in the comments section.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing


  1. AliasJay says

    I cannot wait for these glasses.
    I have been using internet and cellphones since 1996…it’s kind of crazy looking back over the years…

    I was hooking up and playing on the Coleco Adam and Comodore64 way back in my early years of elementary school.
    I’ve witnessed the birth of every major commercial CPU since Intel’s 8086, the first tower, laptop, tablet-convertible, tablet, palmtop, smartphone, MP3 player…and now this.

    This is the next major leap forward in ultra-mobile tech, and it excites me. Obviously there will be a lot of considerations to think about when it comes to pedestrians/drivers and the usage of this device when doing either.

    Because of the rash of recent vehicular accidents involving the physical handling of cellphones and GPS displays, “They” say that use of cell phones is a distraction, and is now prohibited,
    …Arguably it’s not any more distracting than looking down at your car stereo to change the radio station, or looking to your cup holder for your favour cool beverage, or fancy heads-up display on mirrors and windshields. But “They” haven’t banned either of those in vehicles, and it is still legal to have dash or window mounted GPS displays. So basically the distraction based accidents and subsequently the new lows boils down to banning “hands-on” tech usage in vehicles.

    SIDENOTE–I find it funny, because I used to text and drive (way back in 2000-2005). And in my defence, since the recent changes to cellphone while driving motor vehicle laws in Canada, I have ceased physically handling my cell while driving the current motor vehicle laws prohibiting cell. But now I use a Bluetooth earpiece. I can dial and answer calls, and even listen to my txt messages and respond to them without even lifting a finger, and I have a dash mounted GPS.
    I think if a new study was done again assessing 30+yro drivers while using their cell and compare them to newly licenced teen drivers while using their cells it would be discovered that the majority of people in the cell related accidents were actually just poor drivers. Of course the level of distraction is equal to the amount of physical hands-on interaction with the device.

    This device would kill all my birds with one stone. Having a GPS heads up would be no more distracting than my dash mount, and far less distracting than a factory installed nav/entertainment system because it at least keeps your eyes in the same general direction as you’re traveling. If you try turning your head while driving or looking at something rather than the view through your windshield and you will feel the vehicle drift of course…the same way it does when you’re distracted by something below the dash line of your vehicle (don’t recommend doing this while driving).

    In any case, the point being made is that if you have to handle the device while in a vehicle then it’s illegal and unsafe, if you have to look away from the direction you are driving/walking then it’s just unsafe, and if you take years to determine how a product will affect the next generation of poor drivers then your competition will beat you to the market.

    I personally feel that having something like this that is entirely hands free would actually lessen the amount of accidents associated with driving while distracted…or walking while distracted. Of course it’s going to depend on the person, and their level of use and discretion while using. And as for the “strangeness” of people talking to their glasses…it really is no different than seeing someone talking on their Bluetooth headsets.

  2. Vijay K says

    Following are few of the things they will have to consider when trying to implement Google Project glass :
    Accuracy: The accuracy of the info, such as GPS location in the countries that do not have appropriate GPS info.
    Noise : How will the glasses perform when in a crowded location, there may be chance of getting noises for eveywhere.
    Hardware : WIll it take into account also the eyesight related, night and day related issues.

    Software :

    1)Does it have Wifi/Sim connectivity?
    2) How much time to charge?
    3) Support for multipl languages?
    4)If i have smart phone, which is connected to the glass with the bluetooth, when i want to call which mode will it use ?

    ~ Vijay K

  3. zeus says

    There are articles online that discuss how unrealistic that demo video is. The optics, the magnitude in scale of brightness between day/night, inside/outside, coupled with making the graphics visible, the usability of things popping up in front of you such that you lose focus of your surroundings, the distraction, the potential for spam, the effect of a room full of people talking to their eyeglasses over each other, the sound of wind, power supply, heft, the limits of current technology. The demo is a fable.

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