Google shows Glass apps and audio at SXSW

Gesture control, Gmail and search are highlighted at conference demo

Google showed off apps and audio and gesture control features for Google Glass at the South by South West (SXSW) conference in Austin this week.

Timothy Jordan, a senior developer advocate at Google, was at the conference in Austin on Monday to demonstrate how the computerized eye glass technology works. He used Glass, which is still in development, to send email, take photos, post updates to Google+ and hear a translation.

Google Glass
Google co-founder and CEO Sergey Brins dons a Google Glass headpiece.

He also showed how Glass could use a New York Times app, as well as Skitch, a free app that acts as a collaboration tool that enables users to mark up images with arrows, shapes and text.

Google had previously noted that Glass uses voice control. Jordan demonstrated that Glass also responds to touch and head gestures.

And after showing how Glass can be used to do a Google search for an English-to-Japanese translation of the phrase "thank you," Jordan said he could hear the translation through the Glass audio feature.

"It also said to me how to pronounce arigato," Jordan told an audience at SXSW. "You didn't hear it because it was audio just for me. You notice I don't have anything in my ear so I can hear all the ambient audio around me but I can also hear Glass."

Jordan also used Glass to access Gmail, replying to an email by using voice dictation. Glass then showed a transcript of his reply and offered him the choice to edit it or send it. When Glass sends email, it delivers both audio and text versions of the message to the recipient.

Jordan also showed how the Glass interface can be turned on and off by a simple nod of the head.

"With these input options -- voice, touch on the side, and some basic head gestures -- I can control Glass in about any situation," Jordan said. "

He also showed the audience that he could take a photo with Glass, then share it with the Skitch app. Once in Skitch, a notification is sent to his tablet where he is able to mark the image with arrows, shapes and text.

Google's Glass project has already created some controversy, even though an official release date for any Glass-based product is probably still a long way off. On Monday, a Seattle cafe announced that anyone wearing Glass headpieces will not be welcome in the establishment.

"If you're one of the few who are planning on going out and spending your savings on Google Glasses -- what will for sure be a new fad for the fanny-pack wearing, never removing your bluetooth headset-wearing crowd -- plan on removing them before you enter The 5 Point," the cafe wrote in a blog post. "The 5 Point is officially a No Google Glass zone."

A few weeks ago, Google put out a call for people to apply to be part of a group of a few thousand who will initially test Glass. Called "explorers," the testers were asked to tell Google how they would use the technology.

The people who are accepted to be explorers will be required to shell out $1,500 a piece for a test device, and they will have to pay to attend a special "pick-up experience" in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles.

The deadline for applying to be an explorer has passed, and Google has not yet said when it will announce the winners.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter, at @sgaudin, and on Google+, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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