Seven Google Glass apps that go beyond the geek

By Joe Miller
Technology Reporter

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Very few developers have spent time making apps for Google Glass

More than two years after it first introduced Glass to the world, Google is bringing the futuristic device to the UK.

But although software developers have had many months to cook up ideas for the eyewear, there are still just a few dozen apps available.

Some analysts say the controversial spectacles lack a "killer app" - the one function that will make the average user rush out and buy a pair.

Ben Wood, from CCS Insight, says he sees Glass as a "science project," and a "window into what's possible in the future", but by no means a commercial product.

But some developers have been giving it a good go, using Glass to...

Help the hard of hearing

Image source, Georgia Tech

Students at Georgia Tech university have created an app that recognises speech and turns it into on-screen captions, in real time. Conversations appear in text on Glass, allowing the wearer to read what is being said, if they didn't quite catch it the first time. The same boffins are working on a similar app that will be able to translate languages in real time. Fantastique.

Put out fires

Image source, Google

As Patrick Jackson, a firefighter from North Carolina in the US, exhibited in a video, emergency service personnel using Glass will be able to summon up critical data such as floor plans and aerial imagery before they enter a burning building. A company called Mutualink is also testing an app that will allow medics to view a patient's medical records as they arrive on the scene of a accident, and police could use Glass to view footage from security cameras, or record altercations.

Make your run more fun

Image source, Race Yourself

Race Yourself, an augmented reality app, aims to make running more fun by letting you compete against a version of yourself. A 3D avatar running at the speed of your last run appears in Glass, allowing the wearer to gauge their progress in real time. You can even race against friends and celebrities, or, if you dare, against rampant zombies.

Image source, GuidiGo

Knowing very little about art need not be a barrier to enjoying a cultural trip. Augmented-reality app GuidiGo brings real-time explanations of paintings, sculptures and landmarks right into Glass, allowing the wearer to watch videos, listen to audio commentary and even zoom in on a canvas. Other augmented-reality apps, such as AR Glass for Wikipedia, retrieve online data about your surroundings and display them in your sight.

Make a good first impression

Image source, Google

Rather creepily, Refresh claims to provide an "instant dossier" on the person you are meeting. The Glass app pulls data from multiple sources on the internet, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and provides the wearer with a "cheat sheet" on the person in front of them - such as their educational history, favourite movies, or their holiday snaps.

Disguise your lack of linguistic prowess

Image source, WORD LENS

Word Lens, recently acquired by Google, instantly translates printed text via the Glass camera. Users can simply look at a baffling sign in Portuguese, German or Italian, and see it translated into English in front of their eyes.

Gaze at the stars

Image source, Escapist Games

Star Chart, an app by a British developer with just four employees, is the latest addition to the Google's official Glassware store. It uses GPS, along with Glass's compass, gyroscope, accelerometer and voice activation tools to bring the skies alive, putting a real-time map of constellations, stars and planets on to the screen. It can even speak directly to the user, explaining the mysteries of the cosmos to them.

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