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Google glass; grip and ophthalmologic perspective

The discovery of the Google glass...

History records the year 2012, which saw the development of the Google glass, as the date of the real invention of glasses? Innovation turns at this point their use that she might well forget that before increasing the vision, they were more modestly used, for almost seven centuries, to simply correct. If the connected glasses are not yet part of our daily lives, they could become an essential accessory to what it is now agreed to appoint homo connectus in near future: beyond the fascination they inspire in the more tech-savvy circles, just to address the issue in a conversation to the extent of the interest they arouse among a wide audience.

The principle is simple: thanks to a light source placed at a few millimeters away from the eye on the right branch of the mount, and connected to the internet through a smartphone, information of the canvas just integrate superimposed into his field of vision. The Visual information provided by these smart glasses are still rudimentary, not because the proposed display extends only on a limited and peripheral Visual field portion.

The fact remains, however, that, by superimposing a digital image in the organic image perceived by the eye, they confront for the first time their user to an immediate perceptual duality.

Response to the old fantasy of Super vision or promise of absorption of their user in a parallel reality, the Google glass shade so concretely the border between the physical and virtual worlds and sketch the outlines of a new Visual reality, which could be increased at leisure, shaped, substituted.

This page is intended to relate my first contact with respect to these Google glass I've tested recently, and to review their major potential applications, particularly in the medical world and particularly in ophthalmology.

Getting started with the Google glass

Before describing in more detail the technical characteristics of these glass Google, it seems to me more interesting to share first impressions experienced during their grip. The general appearance is rather flattering, there is no sense to capture a prototype, but a (good) finished product. The titanium mount is quite fine, and block scope, without being discreet, struck me as not very protruding.

Introduction to the Google glass; the opto-electronic block is located on the right branch of a thin titanium mount.

Introduction to the Google glass; the opto-electronic block is located on the right branch of a thin titanium mount.


On the tried copy, there is no prescription glasses, and once placed on the nose and ears, no distortion or deformation of the vision was notable. Display system is clearly located above the right eye, which probably explains the absence of true gene. The market, the natural movements of the head do not cause any particular difficulty.

Damien equipped gatinel of Google glass

The appearance of the 'door' of the Google glass, mix classic and futuristic, lines without exuberance rather successful and relatively discreet.

Despite the asymmetry of the device ("block" Electronics is focused on the right branch of the mount), the weight of the equipment seems negligible (less than 40 grams on the scale!). Off, glasses would almost forget, even if perceived as a shadow visualization system in the superoanterior-external part of the field of vision of the right eye.

Prolonged pressure on the 'power' button causes ignition of glasses and the visualization system, which lights up like a rectangular digital display which it is difficult to give a ratio. It seems like a 15-inch screen that would be observed at about 1.50 meter (either a 46 inch observed at 5 meters: the screen seems relatively 'far' eye). Su made the layout of the display system, the image does not appear in the center of the field of vision, and in fact causes no feeling of discomfort or obstruction: it is necessary to move his eyes up and to the right to read.

Having already faced a "heads-up" display systems (there are in some excimers as the EX500 of Wavelight lasers), as well as the use of caseques video, the fact to 'see' an image or a projected or floating text in my field of vision was certainly not as surprised as if I had been totally new at this. But it is without a doubt a surprising experience, that none may be described as 'magical' during their first confrontation with this virtual window. The persistence of the image and its natural follow-up with the head movements, the ability to shift it in his field of vision (you can switch gently with your fingers the visualization system in order to place the screen in central vision if you do not want to leave it at the upper edge of the field of vision) all who participated to make this first enjoyable experience or even addictive. My right eye being Director, the feeling of "immersion" in the projected image was pretty impressive. The contrast of the display is good, its brightness is rather soft and comfortable. There is no "pixelation", despite the (relatively) low native resolution; who is 640 x 360. We can represent this density that would occupy about 1/9th of the total surface of a screen, 1920 × 1080. A calculation based on an apparent angle of 12 ° to the vertical of this virtual screen allows you to establish that this resolution is able to avoid the perception of the frame in pixels for an eye with a Visual acuity of 10/10 (see the) Visual acuity and examples page). There is no need to accommodate to read this display, which will appear so net an Emmetropic (subject not needing glasses to see far) even become presbyopic.

The glass Google Home screen consists of the digital display time and the inscription 'ok glass', whose utterance aloud allows access to the first menu functions ("take a picture", "send a message", etc).

the menu of the Google glass display windows

the menu of the Google glass display windows


Is displayed by default in white characters on a black background, certainly more energy efficient, and more restful solution visually, even if one perceives a light halo of purple.  By scrolling through the images stored in the timeline, one realizes that they are most discernible with a good record, regardless of the background of the stage on which they appear. It must focus on the dark, homogeneous surfaces for optimal viewing, and avoid a slight desaturation of color printing.

This shot gives an idea of the quality of the luminescent display, which is superimposed on that of the 'background' (here the coating of the ceiling)

This shot gives an idea of the quality of the luminescent display, which is superimposed on that of the 'background' (here the coating of the ceiling)

On the pair of glasses tried, the display would disappear after some time of inactivity, but a nod was enough to reactivate. Sound is transmitted by bone conduction (there not earphone), which avoids his neighbour to hear what glasses are telling, but requires a relatively quiet sound environment.

In the end, you get used quickly enough to this virtual display, which far from a visual intrusion seemed quickly similar to a kind of 'widget' natural, floating in my field of vision, and contributing to blur the border between real and virtual image without being this merger truly conflict. Scrolling images and windows located in the timeline is fairly fluid, by touching the trackpad (outer edge of the glasses).

It is not possible currently to navigate directly on most websites with a good display, be it WiFi (live from the glasses), or through the 3Gou 4 G Smartphone (bluetooth connection) connection, but it is already possible to use dedicated applications (Google hangouts, application for the glass of the New York Times) or "gateways" to format and push the content to be displayed by the GG. I have not tried to enter text orally, but for now this seems a daunting task, unless the voice recognition system is particularly effective, or that Google is developing an application of type remote keyboard, or a clever system involving the connected Smartphone. To get a wifi code, there is for example an ingenious application which transforms the text on a Smartphone into a QRcode that then just "flasher" with the Google glass.

Autonomy is announced for a day, but the intensive use of the video or geo-location reduces sharply, according to the pioneer users. However, it is possible to connect the GG to an external battery, like those that allow to charge Smartphones (micro USB plug). The Google glass tends to heat up after a few minutes of intense use.

Google glass: technical overview

Little history

The first official reference to the 'project glasses' (Glass Project) was made by Google on April 4, 2012. Since then, which seems always in the order of the project (since no mainstream marketing has yet been made, even in the USA) however reached several milestones, including the provision for some users and developers mostly American - paid circulation, around 1500 USD - of these famous glasses in April 2013. A partnership with the frame manufacturer Luxottica (Ray - Ban, Oakley, Persol,...) was signed in March 2014, which would put priori an important part of the distribution of the future commercial version of the GG on the side of opticians, at least for the versions to equip prescription glasses (myopia, etc.) or sports or solar optical equipment. This business strategy was initiated recently in California and the State of Illinois.

An adaptable version on eyeglasses is already available; simply to adapt that a branch of the mount has a specially designed not to screw the block GG.

'Google glass' block, set here on a traditional mount that can be equipped with solar or corrective lenses.

'Google glass' block, set here on a traditional mount that can be equipped with solar or corrective lenses.


That contain these Google glass?

Smart Google goggles do not match both in actual glasses (classic equipment combining a mount and a worse glasses) - only a block including an opto-electronic module made up of various elements. These components are collected in an oblong plastic shell, with a transparent optical element through which we can observe the image of the glasses in the front end.

The mount titanium does not have location for receiving views glasses ('prescription glasses' in English), but it is possible to y clipper transparent glass (protection) or solar filters (these glasses are provided with the glasses).


Assembled in the glasses block include: a processor, memory flash16 GB SanDisk - whose 12 GB for the user, a micro-audio, a camera, a touchpad, a Microsystem to display (display) resolution 640 × 360 with a group of optical elements including a 'Prism' to the projection of the virtual image, an issuer audio(conduction osseuse), a microphone audio, a Lithium Polymer battery (located in the bulge from the end of the branch).

The purpose of the photo/video camera: it lights up when the camera records the images.

The purpose of the photo/video camera: it lights up when the camera records the images.

The rectangular image "projected" by the Google glass is formed by the 230 000 pixels of the display system microphone. The battery can be recharged on sector (charger and micro USB cable).

The current operating system is Android ICS 4.0.4. and the glasses communicate in Wifi 802 .11b/g and Bluetooth. Other embedded technologies combine a gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, a proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, infrared sensor.

Parallel to this material object, the Google glass correspond to a new development platform, and are at the heart of a new ecosystem for applications taking advantage of their main assets: the projection of a 'virtual' image in the field of vision of the right eye of the wearer, and the ability to capture images and video using "hands-free".

The operating system updates are automatic and allow some added functions, while others are removed (ex: facial recognition)

Google glass and correction in glasses


Currently, Google goggles seem to be designed to be used on the right, although it is not impossible they are also available in version "left eye" in their marketing). As pointed out earlier, adaptation to the sunglasses is already scheduled, and it seems in fact that Visual optical shops, and networks of distributors will play a prominent role in the marketing of the Google glass. A priori, the interposition of a corrective glass between the eye and the Visual system should not pose a major problem, provided that the power of the glass is not excessive (ex:-4 to + 4 diopters).


Control of the Google glass

Control of the Google glass is made by voice or by touch (with the track pad). Voice activation of glasses is via the pronunciation out loud 'OK, Glass '. Reflection, using the voice command for activation of a device such as the Google glass is quite innovative. To take a photo, simply say the sentence "Take a picture" (in English). Take a picture with the voice is not so obvious, so the 'finger' seems to be the body that is associated with this gesture.


The Power button (it takes press at least 3 seconds) allows to turn on and turn off GG. The trackpad (outer surface) allows to scroll the timeline items. Taking photos/videos by a specific button. The camera is not coaxial with the eye, and the angle of the shot is rather broad. It struck me as not possible to perform a 'zoom' or a macro with the tested equipment cliché. Because of the smallness of the sensor and the optics of the camera system, the depth of field is high and the image appears as a whole.

Basic functions

The basic features offered by these glasses are:

-taking photos (5 Megapixels) and video (720 p) with the built-in camera: these data which can then be shared by sending email or on social networks. It is also possible to participate in a teleconference (hangout), call contacts, etc.

-receive notifications email, Google more

-do a Google search

-a GPS function where you can ask for directions

-Audio (AAC and MP3)

-the display of thumbnails on the virtual screen, with a "Timeline" that includes everything that has been done and received.

When turn on the glasses, the Android system allows time displayed on a black background, emphasized registration 'ok glass '. By tapping the trackpad, you can display weather entries (temperature, humidity, etc.).

The visualization of the virtual screen is based on a relatively simple and ingenious (seemingly) optical system, which allows to share its transparency do not obstruct the vision and present to the eye the virtual image of the display, which is located in the block attached to the mount.

Once they are lit, it is possible to inspect the Google glass and grab the image in the display, including the apparent angle reflection increases significantly once the ground mount.

Once they are lit, it is possible to inspect the Google glass and grab the image in the display, including the apparent angle reflection increases significantly once the ground mount.


Installable features, applications


Broadcasters of digital content, the companies already present on the internet and Smartphone applications providers have already developed specific applications for the GG, who will be ready and available as soon as the opening of a future "Glass store" once step of marketing of the glasses. Google has enslaved to his glasses some of its applications as Now, Hangouts, Maps, etc.

Thus, the application Google glass catalog is already well supplied, even if the currently available of dedicated applications number is minuscule in comparison to what can be found on Google Play for smartphones and tablets running Android: the New York Times, CNN, version American magazine they have for example a specific application, and broadcast content (text, images (, videos), and a host of small additional programs is already available for download.



The Google glass seem the ideal object to satisfy the Visual appetite of still more Avid users of images and videos. The apparent removal of palpable physical media (screen) brings the image of the eye and suggests as an opportunity to more easily swallow this glut of digital.

Although it is possible to film with a simple camcorder or a Smartphone, images and videos with the hands-free entry offers a priori to the spectators the opportunity to attend a more faithful retransmission, close to the subjective vision of the equipped Director of glasses. We naturally refer to the teaching of surgery, but most common activities such as the retransmission of a cooking class or of DIY could also benefit.

The images on screen display function is also an advantage for the user: what orator would not dream to have an invisible teleprompter? What runner would not able to see every moment of information related to the distance travelled, the number of calories burned, its position on a map (GPS) as well as his challengers? More anecdotal, but symptomatic of the exclusive nature of these glasses currently, there already is an application that allows the owners of the electric car, Tesla to order the opening of the doors or control the charge level of the battery... through the Google glass.

If most of the applications available on the Android Smartphones seem to be able to be used on the GG at the cost of a display that is adapted to this new medium, those that will take full advantage of a 'free hand' use will be looks the most interesting. The transmission of images or videos "subjective vision, similar to those captured by the eye of the owner of these glasses offers interesting prospects for reporting, education, or any situation or image transmission plays a central role (teaching, telemedicine...). A routine knee surgery was a notable buzz through the Google glass which equipped the Dr. Christopher Kaeding University of Ohio (OSU) summer 2013; It was the first surgery broadcast 'live' through these.

For the surgeon the ability to view and scroll through documents useful to the good management of the operation is able to secure and increase the quality of the surgery. View comfortably and without the use of a bulkier annex support of iconography (schema, cuts scan, x-rays) and text (report of findings, special mentions) seems an obvious advantage. The data displayed can be limited to the sole carrier of the glasses, they ensure the respect for the confidentiality of sensitive data.

These features suggest that it will be difficult to predict the sociological impact of these new means of observation and communication.  Create - they a new form of social solidarity between carriers of connected glasses that will be put to the service of their frenzy of sharing, or isolate them they on the contrary a little more behind a new invisible screen?

The ability to shoot "unbeknownst" of his interlocutor, to record and archive images raises some concerns, in addition to other ethical issues such as facial recognition. We remember the problems raised by the application Google 'Street view', which some images were considered intrusive. Marketing and the provision of the GG consumers will no doubt see born plethora of original uses, new services, and litigation, and maybe use restrictions. We think of course driving, even if the GG could join forces with road safety, advising of routes and conduct calm, even when 'wake up' a driver at the first sign of drowsiness (application DriveSafe4Glass).




By injecting directly between the eye and the object of the gaze a digital image that is intended to "increase the reality", Google Glass also propose to increase the definition of the function of vision. It is permissible to wonder about the consequences of a such shift in our perception of the surrounding world.

The Google glass seem to both practical, innovative, they symbolize the links more in closer that weave technology for more communication and exchange of information with our sensory functions. But they also intrigue, and raise a few questions on the use of the data that they can collect as efficiently as discrete.

For an ophthalmologist, this object is doubly fascinating; the Google glass appear both as an extension of the eye, a visual medium, an innovative vehicle for audio-visual teaching of the speciality, but also a potential for some patients vision support. Electronic glasses equipped with optical sensors and coupled with artificial retina implants are already tested for several years in laboratories of research for visually impaired subjects. Glass Google offer as a new paradigm, because they are first glasses which, paradoxically, are majority "of seers. Nevertheless, intended to supply some visual disabilities or therapeutic target applications will probably developed in ophthalmology.

The rise of the glasses was contemporary and nourished by the invention of printing. The internet is finally only a kind of digital extension of this means of support and dissemination of information, the transition from simple glasses to Google glass modern is perhaps less than a real innovation to an inevitable evolution.



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