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Google Glass

Google Glass
Google Glass logo
Google Glass logo
Google Glass Explorer Edition
Also known as Project Glass
Developer Google
Manufacturer Foxconn
Type Augmented reality (AR), Optical head-mounted display (OHMD), Wearable technology, Wearable computer
Release date Developers (US): February 2013 (February 2013)[1]
Consumers (US): Currently Unknown[2]
Introductory price Explorer version: $1,500 USD
Consumer edition: "close to the average smartphone"[3]
Operating system Android[4] (4.4.2[5])
Power Lithium polymer battery (2.1 Wh)[6]
CPU OMAP 4430 SoC, dual-core[6]
Memory 2GB RAM[7]
Storage 16 GB Flash total[6] (12 GB of usable memory)[8]
Display Prism projector, 640×360 pixels (equivalent of a 25 in/64 cm screen from 8 ft/2.4 m away[8])
Sound Bone conduction transducer[8]
Input Voice command through microphone,[8] accelerometer,[8] gyroscope,[8] magnetometer,[8] ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Controller input Touchpad, MyGlass phone app
Camera Photos – 5 MP, videos – 720p[8]
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11b/g,[8] Bluetooth,[8] micro USB
Dimensions 22x21"
Weight 50g
Any Bluetooth-capable phone; MyGlass companion app requires Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher or any iOS 7.0 or higher [8]
Related articles Oculus Rift

Google Glass is a type of wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). It was developed by Google[9] with the mission of producing a mass-market ubiquitous computer.[1] Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format.[10] Wearers communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands.[11][12] Google started selling Google Glass to qualified "Glass Explorers" in the US on April 15, 2013, for a limited period for $1,500, before it became available to the public on May 15, 2014,[13] for the same price.

Google provides four prescription frame choices for $225.00 U.S and free with the purchase of any new Glass unit. It is necessary to remove a small screw in order to move the Google Glass from one frame to another. Google entered in a partnership with the Italian eyewear company Luxottica, owners of the Ray-Ban, Oakley, and other brands, to offer additional frame designs.[14]


  • Development 1
    • Release date 1.1
  • Features 2
  • Software 3
    • Applications 3.1
    • MyGlass 3.2
    • Voice activation 3.3
  • Awards and praise 4
  • Criticism and privacy concerns 5
  • Safety considerations 6
  • Healthcare applications 7
  • Journalism and mass media applications 8
  • Technical specifications 9
  • Terms of service 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


Google Glass (2013) and Steve Mann's Digital Eye Glass[15] (1980) on exhibit at the "History of AR Vision" exhibit at the 2013 Augmented World Expo. Both are shown recording video with each device lit up accordingly.

Google Glass was developed by Google X,[16] the facility within Google devoted to technological advancements such as driverless cars.

Google Glass is smaller and slimmer than previous head-mounted display designs.[17]

The Google Glass prototype resembled standard eyeglasses with the lens replaced by a head-up display.[18] In mid-2011, Google engineered a prototype that weighed 8 pounds (3,600 g); it is now lighter than the average pair of sunglasses.[1]

In April 2013, the Explorer Edition was made available to Google I/O developers in the United States for $1,500.[19]

A Glass prototype seen at Google I/O in June 2012

The product began testing in April 2012.[20] Sergey Brin wore a prototype of the Glass to an April 5, 2012, Foundation Fighting Blindness event in San Francisco.[21][22] In May 2012, Google demonstrated for the first time how Google Glass could be used to shoot video.[23]

In June 2014, Nepal Government adopted Google Glass for tackling poachers of wild animals and herbs of Chitwan International Park and other parks listed under World heritage sites. Gurkha Military currently uses Google Glass to track the animals and birds in the jungle. This operation led to the latest development in military operation. Google Glass was used in military for the first time in the world by Nepal.[24]

Release date

In early 2013, interested potential Glass users were invited to use a Twitter message, with hashtag #IfIHadGlass, to qualify as an early user of the product. The qualifiers, dubbed "Glass Explorers" and numbering 8,000 individuals, were notified in March, 2013, and were later invited to pay $1,500 and visit a Google office in Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco, to pick up their unit following "fitting" and training from Google Glass guides. On May 13, 2014, Google announced a move to a "more open beta", via its Google Plus page.[25]

As of December 2014, plans for a general consumer release of Glass remain unknown.


Loïc Le Meur controls Google Glass using the touchpad built into the side of the device
  • Touchpad: A touchpad is located on the side of Google Glass, allowing users to control the device by swiping through a timeline-like interface displayed on the screen.[26] Sliding backward shows current events, such as weather, and sliding forward shows past events, such as phone calls, photos, circle updates, etc.
  • Camera: Google Glass has the ability to take photos and record 720p HD video.
  • Display: The Explorer version of Google Glass uses a Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS)(based on an LCoS chip from Himax Technologies), field-sequential color, LED illuminated display.[27] The display's LED illumination is first P-polarized and then shines through the in-coupling polarizing beam splitter (PBS) to the LCoS panel. The panel reflects the light and alters it to S-polarization at active pixel sites. The in-coupling PBS then reflects the S-polarized areas of light at 45° through the out-coupling beam splitter to a collimating reflector at the other end. Finally, the out-coupling beam splitter (which is a partially reflecting mirror, not a polarizing beam splitter) reflects the collimated light another 45° and into the wearer's eye.[28][29]


A Google Glass with black frame for prescription lens.


Google Glass applications are free applications built by third-party developers. Glass also uses many existing Google applications, such as Google Now, Google Maps, Google+, and Gmail.

Third-party applications announced at South by Southwest (SXSW) include Evernote, Skitch, The New York Times, and Path.[30]

On March 32, 2013, Google released the Mirror API, allowing developers to start making apps for Glass.[31][32] In the terms of service, it is stated that developers may not put ads in their apps or charge fees;[33] a Google representative told The Verge that this might change in the future.[34]

Many developers and companies have built applications for Glass, including news apps, facial recognition, exercise, photo manipulation, translation, and sharing to social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.[35][36][37]

On May 16, 2013, Google announced the release of seven new apps, including reminders from Evernote, fashion news from Elle, and news alerts from CNN.[38] Following Google's XE7 Glass Explorer Edition update in early July 2013, evidence of a "Glass Boutique", a store that will allow synchronization to Glass of Glassware and APKs, was noted.[39]

Version XE8 made a debut for Google Glass on August 12, 2013. It brings an integrated video player with playback controls, the ability to post an update to Path, and lets users save notes to Evernote. Several other minute improvements include volume controls, improved voice recognition, and several new Google Now cards.

On November 19, 2013, Google unveiled its Glass Development Kit, showcasing a translation app Word Lens, a cooking app AllTheCooks, and an exercise app Strava among others as successful examples.[40][41]

On May 15, 2014, Google announced 3 news apps TripIt, FourSquare and OpenTable in order to entice travelers.

On June 25, 2014, Google announced that notifications from Android Wear will be sent to Glass.[42]

The European University Press published the first book to be read with Google Glass on 8 October 2014, as introduced at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The book can be read as a normal paper book or - enriched with multimedia elements - with Google Glass, Kindle, on Smartphone and Pads on the platforms iOS and Android.[43]


Google offers a companion Android and iOS app called MyGlass, which allows the user to configure and manage the device .[44]

Voice activation

Other than the touchpad, Google Glass can be controlled using "voice actions". To activate Glass, wearers tilt their heads 30° upward (which can be altered for preference) or tap the touchpad, and say "O.K., Glass." Once Glass is activated, wearers can say an action, such as "Take a picture", "Record a video", "Hangout with [person/Google+ circle]", "Google 'What year was WorldHeritage founded?'", "Give me directions to the Eiffel Tower", and "Send a message to John"[45] (many of these commands can be seen in a product video released in February 2013).[46] For search results that are read back to the user, the voice response is relayed using bone conduction through a transducer that sits beside the ear, thereby rendering the sound almost inaudible to other people.[47]

Awards and praise

In November 2012, Glass received recognition by Time Magazine as one of the "Best Inventions of the Year 2012", alongside inventions such as the Curiosity Rover.[48]

After a visit to the University of Cambridge by Google's chairman Eric Schmidt in February 2013, Wolfson College professor[49] John Naughton praised the Glass and compared it with the achievements of hardware and networking pioneer Douglas Engelbart. Naughton wrote that Engelbart believed that machines "should do what machines do best, thereby freeing up humans to do what they do best".[50]

In December 2013, David Datuna became the first artist to incorporate Google Glass into a contemporary work of art.[51][52] The artwork debuted at a private event at The New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida, US and was moved to the Miami Design District for the public debut.[53] Over 1500 people used Google Glass to experience Datuna's American flag from his "Viewpoint of Billions" series.[54] Instances like this demonstrate that Glass can alter perspective, with the possibility of opening up new dimensions in the visual arts.[55]

Steve Mann, inventor of EyeTap, wearing several developments of his device which has been compared with Google Glass[56]

The eyewear's functionality and minimalist appearance have been compared to Steve Mann's EyeTap,[56] also known as "Glass" or "Digital Eye Glass".[57] According to Mann, both devices affect both privacy and secrecy by introducing a two-sided surveillance and sousveillance.[58]

Criticism and privacy concerns

Concerns have been raised by varioushiarding the intrusion of privacy, and the etiquette and ethics of using the device in public and recording people without their permission.[59][60][61] Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, claims that Glass could be seen as a way to become even more isolated in public, but the intent was quite the opposite: Brin views checking social media as a constant "nervous tic," which is why Glass can notify the user of important notifications and updates and does not obstruct the line of sight.[62]

Additionally, there is controversy that Google Glass would violate security problems and privacy rights such as the Secrecy paradigm (see FTC Fair Information Practice work to uphold privacy rights through Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPS), which are guidelines representing concepts that concern fair information practice in an electronic marketplace.[66]

Privacy advocates are concerned that people wearing such eyewear may be able to identify strangers in public using facial recognition, or surreptitiously record and broadcast private conversations.[1] The "Find my Face" feature on Google+ functions to create a model of your face, and of people you know, in order to simplify tagging photos.[67] However, the only current app that can identify strangers is called MORIS (Mobile Offender Recognition and Identification System), and is a $3,000 iPhone app used by police officers.[68]

Some companies in the U.S. have posted anti-Google Glass signs in their establishments.[69][70][71] In July 2013, prior to the official release of the product, Stephen Balaban, co-founder of software company Lambda Labs, circumvented Google’s facial recognition app block by building his own, non-Google-approved operating system. Balaban then installed face-scanning Glassware that creates a summary of commonalities shared by the scanned person and the Glass wearer, such as mutual friends and interests.[72] Additionally, Michael DiGiovanni created Winky, a program that allows a Google Glass user to take a photo with a wink of an eye, while Marc Rogers, a principal security researcher at Lookout, discovered that Glass can be hijacked if a user could be tricked into taking a picture of a malicious QR code, demonstrating the potential to be used as a weapon in cyberwarfare.[73]

Other concerns have been raised regarding legality of the Glass in a number of countries, particularly in Russia, Ukraine, and other post-Soviet countries. In February 2013, a Google+ user noticed legal issues with Glass and posted in the Glass Explorers community about the issues, stating that the device may be illegal to use according to the current legislation in Russia and Ukraine, which prohibits use of spy gadgets that can record video, audio or take photographs in an inconspicuous manner.[74]

Concerns were also raised in regard to the privacy and security of Glass users in the event that the device is stolen or lost, an issue that was raised by a US congressional committee. As part of its response to the committee, Google stated that a locking system for the device is in development. Google also reminded users that Glass can be remotely reset.[39] Police in various States have also warned the Glass wearers to watch out for muggers and street robbers.[75]

Lisa A. Goldstein, a freelance journalist who was born profoundly deaf, tested the product on behalf of people with disabilities and published a review on August 6, 2013. In her review, Goldstein states that Google Glass does not accommodate hearing aids and is not suitable for people who cannot understand speech. Goldstein also explained the limited options for customer support, as telephone contact was her only means of communication.[76]

Several facilities have banned the use of Google Glass before its release to the general public, citing concerns over potential privacy-violating capabilities. Other facilities, such as Las Vegas casinos, banned Google Glass, citing their desire to comply with Nevada state law and common gaming regulations which ban the use of recording devices near gambling areas.[77] On October 29, 2014, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) announced a ban on wearable technology including Google Glass, placing it under the same rules as mobile phones and video cameras.[78]

There have also been concerns over potential eye pain caused by users new to Glass.[79] These concerns were validated by Google's optometry advisor Dr. Eli Peli of Harvard, though he later partly backtracked due to the controversy which ensued from his remarks.[79][80][81]

Concerns have been raised by cyber forensics experts at the University of Massachusetts who have developed a way to steal smartphone and tablet passwords using Google Glass. The specialists developed a software program that uses google glass to track finger shadows as someone types in their password. Their program then converts the touchpoints into the keys they were touching, allowing them to catch the passcodes.[82]

Another concern regarding the camera application raises controversy to privacy. Some people are concerned about how the product has the capability of recording during events such as conversations. The device sets off a light to indicate that it is recording but many speculate that there will be an app to disable this.[83]

Safety considerations

Concerns have also been raised on operating motor vehicles while wearing the device. On 31 July 2013 it was reported that driving while wearing Google Glass is likely to be banned in the UK, being deemed careless driving, therefore a fixed penalty offense, following a decision by the Department for Transport.[84]

In the US, West Virginia state representative Gary G. Howell introduced an amendment in March 2013 to the state's law against texting while driving that would include bans against "using a wearable computer with head mounted display." In an interview, Howell stated, "The primary thing is a safety concern, it [the glass headset] could project text or video into your field of vision. I think there's a lot of potential for distraction."[85]

In October 2013, a driver in California was ticketed for "driving with monitor visible to driver (Google Glass)" after being pulled over for speeding by a San Diego Police Department officer. The driver was reportedly the first to be fined for driving while wearing a Google Glass.[86] While the judge noted that "Google Glass fell under 'the purview and intent' of the ban on driving with a monitor", the case was thrown out of court due to lack of proof the device was on at the time.[87]

In February 2014, a woman wearing Google Glass was verbally and physically assaulted at a bar in San Francisco. Allegedly the woman was showboating and not respecting other's privacy in the establishment.[88] Kevin Sintumuang shared an informative article for Google Glass owners to help avoid being a "Glasshole".[89]

Healthcare applications

Several proofs of concept for Google Glass have been proposed in healthcare.

Medopad and Google Glass being used in a hospital.

In December 2013, Medopad, a London, UK based mobile health solution provider, announced the first wearable health record and had an official showcase of the technology at the CeBIT conference in March 2014.[90][91][92] With the Medopad application for Glass, doctors can access patient records, check live patient vitals, collaborate by sharing what they are viewing in surgery with up to 5 other doctors, and record video or take pictures.[93]

drchrono, a Mountain View, Calif., based electronic medical record company has developed a new application for the device it claims is the first "wearable health record." Doctors who register for the drchrono app for Glass can use it to record a consultation or surgery with the patient's permission. Videos, photos and notes are stored in the patient's electronic medical record or in Box, a cloud-based storage and collaboration service and can be shared with the patient on request. [94]

Dr. Phil Haslam and Dr. Sebastian Mafeld demonstrated the first concepts for Google Glass in the field of interventional radiology. They demonstrated the manner in which the concept of Google Glass could assist a liver biopsy and fistulaplasty, and the pair stated that Google Glass has the potential to improve patient safety, operator comfort, and procedure efficiency in the field of interventional radiology.[95]

On June 20, 2013, Rafael J. Grossmann, a Venezuelan surgeon practicing in the USA, was the first surgeon to ever demonstrate the use of Google Glass during a live surgical procedure.[96] In August 2013, Google Glass was also used at [97]

On June 21, 2013, the Spanish doctor Pedro Guillen, Chief of Trauma Service of Clínica CEMTRO of Madrid, also broadcast a surgery through the use of Google Glass.[98]

Baby Eve with Georgia for the Breastfeeding Support Project

In July 2013, Lucien Engelen commenced research on the usability and impact of Google Glass in the health care field. As of August 2013, Engelen, who is based at Singularity University and in Europe at Radboud University Medical Center,[99] is the first healthcare professional in Europe to participate in the Glass Explorer program.[100] His research on Google Glass (starting August 9, 2013) was conducted in operating rooms, ambulances, a trauma helicopter, general practice, and home care as well as the use in public transportation for visually or physically impaired. Research contained making pictures, videos streaming to other locations dictating operative log, having students watch the procedures and tele-consultation through Hangout. Engelen documented his findings in blogs,[101] videos,[102] pictures, on Twitter,[103] and on Google+.[104] and is still ongoing.

In December 2013, Dr Brion Benninger (Sports Medicine, Clinical Anatomist, Reverse Translational researcher and Innovative Medical Educator) was the first to successfully combine Glass with the SonicEye finger ultrasound transducer using a Fukuda-Denshi ultrasound system to successfully identify foreign bodies (shrapnel) that can be lodged in upper and lower limbs during military combat and civilian firearm violence.[105]

In Australia, during January 2014, Melbourne tech startup Small World Social collaborated with the Australian Breastfeeding Association to create the first hands-free breastfeeding Google Glass application for new mothers.[106] The application, named Google Glass Breastfeeding app trial, allows mothers to nurse their baby while viewing instructions about common breastfeeding issues (latching on, posture etc.) or call a lactation consultant via a secure Google Hangout, who can view the issue through the mother's Google Glass camera.[107] The trial was successfully concluded in Melbourne in April 2014, and 100% of participants were breastfeeding confidently.[108]

In February 2014, Dr Brion Benninger (Sports Medicine, Clinical Anatomist, Reverse Translational researcher and Innovative Medical Educator), Professor from Western University of Health Sciences, Lebanon, Oregon, was the first to combine Google Glass with the SonicEye finger ultrasound transducer using a Fukuda-Denshi ultrasound system to view ultrasound images during physical examinations of the limbs, neck, thorax and abdomen. Benninger teaches a physicians hand is a palpation stethoscope, the ultrasound finger probe is a visual stethoscope and integrating them with Glass would provide a physician triple feedback during physical examinations (palpation, surface, and internal visualization).[105]

In March 2014, Dr Brion Benninger combined Glass with the SonicEye finger ultrasound linear and biplanar array transducers using a Fukuda-Denshi ultrasound system to prove that images can be successfully obtained from donor cadavers and live subjects.[109]

In March 2014, Dr Brion Benninger (Sports Medicine, Clinical Anatomist, Reverse Translational researcher and Innovative Medical Educator) was the first to combine Glass with the SonicEye finger ultrasound biplanar array transducer using a Fukuda-Denshi ultrasound system to successfully identify foreign bodies (shrapnel) that would be lodged in upper and lower limbs during military combat and civilian firearm violence.[109]

The first virtually augmented surgery in the Middle East was conducted in April 2014 at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) as part of the Global Smile Foundation (GSF) MENA mission in Lebanon in collaboration with the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at AUBMC. The virtually augmented surgery was carried out as part of a pilot program utilizing software by Vipaar, a remote video software company, which uses Google glasses to allow surgeons to communicate from thousands of miles away. The software was used during the surgical procedure on a two-and-a-half year old girl with a cleft lip. The Vipaar technology allowed Dr. Usama Hamdan, president of GSF MENA and Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah, head of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at AUBMC, to communicate with a Reconstructive Surgeon at New York University, Dr. Raj Vyas. Cleft Lip surgery on a young patient requires a tremendous amount of precision and that is why the surgery was selected to test the software. During the surgery, Vyas was able to see the surgery in the eyes of Hamdan and Abu-Sittah on his iPad in NYC. In turn, Vyas, who has previous experience with the Vipaar technology, virtually demonstrated where the incisions should be made. The surgical team in Beirut was able to see the surgical markings through the glasses as if they were on the patient’s face.[110]

In June 2014, the use of Google Glass to acquire images of a patient's retina ("Glass Fundoscopy") was publicly demonstrated for the first time at the Wilmer Clinical Meeting at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine by Dr. Aaron Wang and Dr. Allen Eghrari.[111] Physicians in the audience simultaneously viewing a patient's retina contributed insights into the appearance of the optic disc and peripheral changes in the retinal pigment epithelium.

In July 2014, the startup company Surgery Academy, in Milan, Italy, launched a remote training platform dedicated to medical students. The platform is a MOOC that allows students to join any operating theater thanks to Google Glass worn by surgeon.[112][113] Also in July 2014, This Place released an app, MindRDR to connect Glass to a Neurosky EEG monitor to allow people to take photos and share them to Twitter or Facebook using brain signals. It is hoped this will allow people with severe physical disabilities to engage with social media.[114]

In August 2014, Dr Brion Benninger (Sports Medicine, Clinical Anatomist, Reverse Translational researcher and Innovative Medical Educator) was the first to successfully combine Glass with the SonicEye finger ultrasound linear transducer using a Fukuda-Denshi ultrasound system to identify fractures of the mandible on donor cadaver patients.[109]

Journalism and mass media applications

In 2014, Voice of America Television Correspondent Carolyn Presutti and VOA Electronics Engineer Jose Vega began a web project called "VOA & Google Glass" which explores the technology's potential uses in journalism.[115] This series of news stories examines the technology's live reporting applications, including conducting interviews and covering stories from the reporter's point of view. On March 29, 2014, American a cappella group Pentatonix partnered with Voice of America when lead singer Scott Hoying wore Glass in the band's performance at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., during the band's worldwide tour - the first use of Glass by a lead singer in a professional concert.[116]

Beginning in the fall of 2014, The University of Southern California will conduct a course called "Glass Journalism," which will explore the device's application in journalism.[117]

Technical specifications

The Explorer's LCoS display optics use a PBS, a partially reflecting mirror beam splitter, and an astigmatism correcting, collimating reflector formed on the nose end of the optical assembly.[28][29]

For the developer Explorer units version 1:

  • Android 4.4 [118]
  • 640×360 Himax HX7309 LCoS display[6][27]
  • 5-megapixel camera, capable of 720p video recording[8]
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g[8]
  • Bluetooth[8]
  • 16GB storage (12 GB available)[8]
  • Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 SoC 1.2Ghz Dual(ARMv7)[6]
  • 1GB RAM [119]
  • 3 axis gyroscope [120]
  • 3 axis accelerometer [120]
  • 3 axis magnetometer (compass)[120]
  • Ambient light sensing and proximity sensor [120]
  • Bone conduction audio transducer[8]

For the developer Explorer units version 2(now available for anyone):[121]

  • Android 4.4 [118]
  • 640×360 Himax HX7309 LCoS display[6][27]
  • 5-megapixel camera, capable of 720p video recording[8]
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g[8]
  • Bluetooth[8]
  • 16GB storage (12 GB available including OS)[8]
  • Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 SoC 1.2Ghz Dual(ARMv7)[6]
  • 2GB RAM [122]
  • 3 axis gyroscope [120]
  • 3 axis accelerometer [120]
  • 3 axis magnetometer (compass)[120]
  • Ambient light sensing and proximity sensor [120]
  • Bone conduction audio transducer[8]
  • Prescription frames available on

Terms of service

Under the Google Glass terms of service for the Glass Explorer pre-public release program, it specifically states, "you may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person. If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google's authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty." This helps to prevent users from hijacking the device.

Wired commented on this policy of a company claiming ownership of its product after it had been sold, saying: "Welcome to the New World, one in which companies are retaining control of their products even after consumers purchase them."[123] Others pointed out that Glass was not for public sale at all, but rather in private testing for selected developers, and that not allowing developers in a closed beta to sell to the public is not the same as banning consumers from reselling a publicly released device.[124]

See also


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External links

  • Google Glass – official site
  • Google Glass on Google+
  • Google Glass Apps – comprehensive apps list
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