Google Glass puts eyes on the back of your head (and elsewhere)

I've been highly-critical of Google Glass, and I stand by that in its current form the average consumer is better off with a smartwatch. There are certain applications, however, where Google Glass can be indisputably useful.

Today the developers working on the Glass Development Kit have released a changelog detailing the addition of USB webcam support in the latest version. This new capability boosts the possibilities of the device; particularly for surgeons and drivers of the two-wheeled vehicles.

"XE19.1 - July 15, 2014


Added support for USB webcam On-The-Go (OTG) on Glass. Known issues include:

Plug and play for the video node is not supported. Reboot Glass to detect attached webcam.

If the attached accessories have a microphone, contextual voice commands may not work.

Holding a partial wakelock is recommended to prevent the system from suspending access to attached webcam.”

It is easy to imagine health professionals being able to see from different angles whilst working in their respective field and benefits that could have. Currently most devices in the medical industry do not use USB interfaces but that may change as a result for improved compatibility in the future.

Another use could be for bikers with rear-view cameras set-up on the back of future helmets so the rider can get a clearer picture of what is happening around them and remove "blind spots" which could be of danger to the rider. Of course it's not likely Google Glass will be authorised for in-vehicle use any time soon as it itself could be a potential distraction.

The webcams must be attached via OTG (On-The-Go) capable currently, but Plug and Play isn't supported so Glass must be rebooted before the camera will be detected and available for use. It is this "wired" approach which may limit its usages but in future devices wireless support may be a possibility if enough interest is shown.

As of writing there is not a native webcam viewer for Glass so you will have to seek out a third-party app which supports the new feature. Hopefully we'll see a few apps pop-up sooner rather than later so we can get eyes-on with remote viewing.

Can you think of ways to utilise Google Glass' new abilities? Let us know in the comments.

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27 Jul 2014, 6:02 p.m.

I am working on such Google Glass app for bicyclists. I have friends who have been hurt by cars backing out and not seeing bicycles. Having said that, the cost of the Google Glass is still prohibitive for most amateur cyclists though. However, I can see it being used by professional teams during racing season. There are other cheaper alternatives, I do believe.