Google Glass fascinates, Google Glass unleashes passions for two years since they were presented by the American firm in April 2012. It was not until last year that the Glass Explorers program was launched and today again, glasses are very difficult to find. The Caisse d'Epargne managed to get its hands on a model and it took the opportunity to develop a specific application linked to its digital safe , an application that it presented yesterday at noon to a few journalists and to a handful of bloggers. Including your humble servant.
As some of you may know, Google Glass is only officially available in the United States and few Europeans have managed to land a pair. Alain Regnier, from Alto Labs , is one of the lucky ones. He is even the first French to have brought back a pair in France. In addition, he is also the one who developed the application mentioned above.
This presentation will be divided into two parts: my impressions of Google Glass, and an update on the application developed by the Caisse d'Epargne and by Alto Labs.
Google Glass: much more than just a gadget
The specialized press is fairly divided when it comes to Google Glass. Some journalists, and some fellow bloggers, are not even convinced by these funny connected glasses. I obviously really wanted to put them on to get my own idea and luck did things well since I arrived early at the event organized by the Caisse d'Epargne. I thus had all the leisure to handle the beast.
Before I share my impressions with you, it is best to start with a brief tour of the owner, for those who are not familiar with the matter.
As their name suggests, Google Glass is presented as… connected glasses. Thanks, Fred. Contrary to what one might think, they are absolutely not autonomous and they must imperatively be connected to a smartphone or to a router to access online content. In Bluetooth or WiFi, it depends.
All the electronics are embedded in compact compartments hung on the right branch. Under the hood, there are components similar to those of a smartphone. With a processor, RAM, storage and even a bonus battery. All the models do not necessarily share the same technical sheet but the one I had in hand had a TI OMAP 4430 processor supported by 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage space . It is not much, of course, but it is more than sufficient given the use we will make of the device.
Google Glass does not include a screen, but a prism which is also located on the right, on an articulated elbow. The image is projected by a pico-projector. First, you will have to start by adjusting the glasses by moving the prism forward, backward, up or down. I had not taken my glasses with me (I am nearsighted and astigmatic) but I did not encounter any particular problem.
There are two ways to interact with Google Glass: by using voice recognition , or by sliding your finger on the touch surface located on the temple of the glasses . Only English is supported for the moment. We will have to wait for the final version, and the launch of the device in France, to be able to order it in French. However, the tool developed by Google works really well, even in ambient noise.
The touch zone requires some adaptation time. To locate it, but also to use it. Glass recognizes a number of different gestures, which must be memorized in order to use them correctly. A matter of habit, no doubt.
I was afraid I wouldn't feel comfortable with smart glasses on my nose, but Google Glass tends to be forgotten very quickly. The thing is, the screen will not be placed in your field of vision, but in the top right corner. It's not about augmented reality but rather… um… added reality. The term is not necessarily well chosen but the idea is there. The glasses work as a second screen.
Google Glass uses bone conduction to transmit sound to our eardrums and it works really well. Very well even. I didn't listen to any music, but I had the opportunity to watch the extract of a report broadcast on CNN without any problem, and with the most correct sound reproduction. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the bone conduction does as well as my MDR-1RTB, either, but it doesn't have to be ashamed of less premium headsets or headphones.
Each application, each module, is in the form of a map. Obviously it's hard not to think about Google Now. I did not test all the on-board tools, however, and I ended up focusing on CNN videos, on the application in charge of capturing photos, and on the application developed by Alto Labs and the Caisse. Savings. Each time, the glasses have proven to be extremely responsive, and very functional. They do what is asked of them.
The digital safe application of the Caisse d'Epargne
The Caisse d'Epargne has invested heavily in digital technologies in recent years. Our hosts insisted a lot on this point. The idea, ultimately, is to combine “the best of digital and human”. These words are not from me, but from one of the representatives of the bank.
Either way, this strategy seems to be paying off. Of all the bank's connected customers, 12% now only use its mobile application, compared with 3% in 2012. There is therefore real demand.
The Caisse d'Epargne digital safe has been available to all of the bank's customers for a few months now. As its name suggests, it allows us to store our most important documents in a virtual (but secure) space. It is even capable of automatically recovering certain files, such as EDF invoices. The solution is offered at 1.20 euros per month and it must be admitted, it fully deserves them since it will allow you to save a lot of time, without fear that a third party will get their hands on our precious data.
If the subject interests you, know that the digital safe of the Caisse d'Epargne is actually managed by the company Dictao . This name doesn't necessarily mean much to you, but it works with a lot of different establishments, and it offers several services designed for banks, such as software capable of managing electronic signatures.
Alto Labs has therefore designed a specific application, entirely dedicated to Google Glass. An application that will allow us to quickly send the photos captured by the glasses to our digital safe. Useless? Not at all, quite the contrary, and the best is still to start from a concrete example.
Imagine for example that you go to the local jeweler to buy a beautiful necklace for your beautiful. With your pair of Google Glass, you will be able to photograph the jewelry, and its invoice. These two images will be automatically sent to your storage space. In the event of loss or theft, you will therefore have all the necessary documents to apply for the insurance. No need to bother scanning them, the time savings are appreciable.
The Caisse d'Epargne does not intend to stop there and is currently working on other applications using Google's connected glasses. Many avenues are being considered, but the general idea is ultimately to build a close relationship between the client and his advisor. Ultimately and thanks to Google Glass, our agency will even be able to guide us in real time and help us deal with water damage, or even a car accident.
Are Google Glass revolutionary? It's hard to say, especially with such a quick start. However, I think that they could perfectly lead to a change in uses linked to digital technology, by offering us constant access to all the wealth of the web and related services.
A much easier access than what our smartphones offer, since they often tend to immobilize, at least, one of our hands. Not particularly practical when you have to run in the corridors of the metro to change lines, or even when preparing a good meal for the whole family. With Google Glass, everything finally becomes simpler and more accessible, the virtual mixes with the real and these glasses thus offer another point of view on the world around us.
A puzzling experience, but terribly stimulating. I miss them already, to tell you the truth.
I take this opportunity to thank our hosts, of course, but also Hadrien de BeGeek and JR de AMHA who have agreed to pose for posterity.