Google Glass shortcoming: Not all heads are created equal

SNP_233490CC72CA4D5E0DE3E119EE660F64BB9E_3284798_en_v0My wife, Jessi, and I got together with a group of friends last night to celebrate some accomplishments and a birthday and just have fun hanging out. It’s the first time we’ve gotten together at our house since I became a Google Glass Explorer, so the environment lent itself well to most everyone passing Glass around to try them out.

Overall, the reaction was quite positive, with one of the best comments being, “Those are a lot cooler than I expected.” I think most people would realize that there is a tremendous amount of potential within this new tech if they just gave it a chance.

Because of the various shapes and sizes of the people in our group, it also was a good opportunity to see how Glass’ one-size-fits-most approach is going to work (or not) if Google goes mainstream with them. The Glass team did a good job creating a device that is quite bendable and adjustable. Most anyone can find a way to tweak the nose pads and frame to fit their head. And the hinged feature of the viewscreen means you can adjust it so the entire screen is within your field of vision. I never thought about it, but several of us in our group discovered that we see things at very different angles based on our individual facial structures. I must have the viewscreen tipped in nearly 100 percent, while Jessi tips it out a lot further and another friend of ours had it resting somewhere between.

Of course, the viewscreen is only on the right side, and I’ve had people ask about a left-eyed Glass being available since the vision is negatively affected in their right eye for some reason and they would find Glass easier to use if it could be over their left eye. I don’t know if Google intends on making right-eye and left-eye versions, but I can definitely see that as a major marketing issue at some point.

One of the biggest Google Glass shortcomings I’ve discovered has to do with sound, because not all heads are created equal. We’ve known this to be true for some time, particularly when my wife was trying them out and wanted to learn more about using them. She’s supportive of my being an Explorer, although she has remarked that I talk to myself a lot more than I used to. Unfortunately, because my wife is petite, she is unable to hear things the way she’s supposed to through the Bone Conduction Transducer built into Glass.

When she puts Glass on her head, which is very small, the Bone Conduction Transducer (a.k.a., the speaker) ends up behind her skull. She said that what she hears sounds like it’s coming out of a speaker being held behind her head. Granted, she could use the earbud, but I think one of the cool things about Glass is the ability to listen through the BCT — it is certainly a bonus for someone like me who has reduced hearing in one ear. When I listen to music through Glass, the music is throughout my head and I don’t have the usual sensation of it being louder on the right like I do when using earbuds.

I’m not sure that there’s much of an answer to this unless Google is going to start making multiple sizes of frames to help people adjust to Glass — not just from side to side but from front to back. You can tweak Glass now to fit just about any width of head. But for folks like Jessi, they need to consider a shorter temple on the right. That may be difficult given the size of the battery pack required right now, but hopefully they’re working on a way to make that section of Glass smaller for all of us, and especially the smaller folks who want to enjoy this tech, too.

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The large block behind my ear is the Glass battery and toward the front of that block is the Bone Conduction Transducer, a.k.a. the speaker. It rests comfortably against my skull, allowing me to hear sounds from Glass well without the need for the optional earbud.

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Here, you can see how much further back the battery block sits on Jessi’s head, which is why the BCT isn’t touching her skull and sounds from Glass are very different for her.

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