Expert Says: Google Glass Design Is Flawed

Google Glass may seem like a new concept, but to Steve Mann, who has been wearing a computerized headset for 35 years, it just reminds him if the first generation prototype he designed in the late 1970’s.

Mann starting wearing a computerized headset 35 years ago in an effort to see better.

“My grandfather taught me how to weld when I was 4 years old, and I wanted to be able to see what was going on, and so I was wearing dark glass to see and understand certain things but the dark glass makes some things not so visible,” Mann said.  “So I envisioned a kind of glass that would be computational, so I invented a kind of computer glass.”

The generation-one glass that he designed in 1978 was just a camera to the right of his eyes with a display-similar to Google Glass.  However, Mann is surprised that Google isn’t offering a more advanced version of this design.

“What I found most surprising is that [Google’s] going with a generation-one glass; where the camera’s to the right of the eye,” Mann said.  “What I find most surprising is that they’re making the same mistake I made 35 years ago.”

The mistake he is referring to is the positioning of a micro display outside a person’s natural field of view, which he has said could lead to eyestrain and visual confusion.  Over the years, Mann has solved this problem by creating generation-two glass, which causes the eye itself to become the camera.   He further advanced this technology with generation three and generation four, which he has said works with a laser device that causes the eye itself to become both a camera and a display.

The technology he developed is called EyeTap, which he wrote about in his book, Intelligent Image Processing.  The technology allows non-invasive tapping into the human eye through devices built into eyeglass frames.

Google Glass, similar to his generation-one Glass, is built with a tiny prism display, which doesn’t sit on your eyeline, it actually sits slightly above it.  The only way you can see what is on the display is by glancing up.  Mann has said that similar to his generation-one glass, the viewers eye has to move slightly to one side, which makes you dizzy and confused.

Steve Mann also has some very interesting thoughts on surveillance and the adoption of Glass.  Stay tuned…

About the author

— Cassie Slane

Cassie Slane is a technology and consumer products expert and appears as an electronics guest on QVC and Philly's Fox 29 Channel. She has been a producer and writer for major media outlets including Bloomberg News, CNBC, and CNN.

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  1. ‘the viewers eye has to move slightly to one side, which makes you dizzy and confused’

    um, I can move my eyes slightly to the side without getting dizzy or confused. what is this guy talking about?

    1. I think he meant focusing on something close to you and to the side. I’m not entirely sure, but I tried “focusing” on the rim of my glasses that were to the side and it definitely throws me off a little.

      Then of course, I have no idea how the display of Google Glass is or anything like that, so the experience I’m sure will be vastly different.

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