Google Glass is essentially like wearing a mini-computer on your face, one that projects information in the right-hand corner of your eye, via a prism on the frame. While thousands of our early adopter neighbours to the south are already looking goofy in this Buddy Holly-meets-cyborg, sci-fi fashion, Canadian residents, unlike their American counterparts, will not get to experience this sartorial pleasure soon.
Until the technology is available in Canada, we will be deprived of the ability to make voice commands to our vehicles, like, "Okay, Glass, start my car," or, "Okay, Glass, defrost my rear window."
Google Glass is considered one of the coolest and most coveted wearable technologies of the moment. In a limited one-day sale on April 15, it sold out among those willing to shell out $1,500 for a prototype.
Across the United States, dozens of industries, from emergency room doctors to teachers and hospitality workers, are experimenting in pilot projects with the hands-free technology. Google Glass has hundreds of potential applications, and they include behind the wheel of your vehicle.
Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz are the first auto makers to offer the technology in the United States. It'll be an option on Hyundai's 2015 Genesis, which is soon to appear in Canadian showrooms, too – without the Google option. Its Blue Link telematics system will be compatible with Google Glass and be called Glassware. It will offer "pre-drive" operations, including remote start, lock and unlock functions by voice command. Other functions include notifications for scheduled service calls and maintenance, reports of an accident down the road or points of interest.
Chad Heard, a Hyundai Canada spokesman, says Canadians have to wait. Connectivity is the issue.
"Many telematics applications depend on third-party providers and the infrastructure in Canada is not as developed as in the U.S.," says Heard. "We don't yet have a timeline or a proper grasp of all the requirements for the system to be brought into Canada."
You might be thinking, I can wait. I've got other gear and gadgets, like my smartphone, or a spouse to remind me when the car needs an oil change. But the cachet of Google Glass is in the delivery of that information. That's also where detractors raise the issue of distracted driving.
Eight states are seeking legislation to ban the devices. Even though it's hands-free driving, the argument is that Glass is like driving with a computer in front of your face.
Proponents say that's an exaggeration. The technology is like looking at a 25-inch computer screen from about eight feet away, similar to checking your rearview mirror. Meanwhile, Google is lobbying against the legislative restrictions.
Straight out of the box, Glass is like a smartphone without any apps. It has seven basic functions: taking pictures and video, getting directions, sending a message and, of course, the use of Google+ and Google Hangouts.
Once you add in connectivity and apps – which are being developed at the speed of light – the possibilities seem endless.
When it will come to Canada, is anybody's guess. Meanwhile, the United States is the "test bed for the technology," says Matt Stambaugh, a Calgary-based science and technology consultant.
Hyundai continues to investigate the Blue Link system for Canadian consumers. As Stambaugh says to those feeling left out: "We too will eventually get these toys."
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