Dubai: While Google Glass is only available in the US, some of them have made their way here to the UAE.
And the newfangled electronic eyeglasses are getting mixed reviews.
Google Glass, a small wearable computer mounted onto eyeglasses, can take photos, record videos, access the internet and give directions, among other uses. It also has a number of apps meant for people on the go, or who have an active lifestyle. It’s compatible with both Android and iOS.
The Glass Explorer Programme, which allowed some people to be among the first to experience and test this new technology, was launched a year ago.
Gulf News wanted to explore the new glasses but the company declined a request for an interview, noting that the glasses are not officially for sale in the region yet and there are no plans to do so in the near future.
However, on its social media webpage on Google+, the firm announced that on April 15 it was opening new spots in the Glass Explorer Programme.
“Any adult in the US can become an Explorer by visiting our site and purchasing Glass for $1,500 (Dh5,509) plus tax.”
They announced that the number of spots available was limited.
As of now, there are no more spots available, but people can register to be alerted if new spots open up.
Google Glass is not available for sale anywhere outside the US. According to the same announcement, Google said “we’re just not ready yet to bring Glass to other countries”.
Emirati Mohammad Jawad Saeed Jawad, 32, said he was invited by a friend who was already a Google explorer.
“Once you become an explorer, and use the glass for a while, Google sends off three invitations that the explorer can give away for others to join.”
Jawad has been using Google Glass since November 2013. “All the features on Google Glass work, not as accurate as they would perform if in the US, but close enough.” He said that maps are a bit inaccurate due to the constant changes in Dubai’s infrastructure. Also, searching for points of interest is tricky, he said, as not all companies in the UAE have their data in Google’s data base.
Jawad mainly uses Glass as a hands-free phone and to find his way. “I have also noticed myself using Glass more to search Google.com for facts and questions that might cross my mind from time to time without taking out my smartphone or laptop.”
He said he uses his Glass in public, but not everywhere. “I try to respect the places I am in. If I feel that it might not be appropriate to use Glass in these places I don’t. I don’t use them in public bathrooms, ministry offices and work places.”
Google Glass is an eye-catcher, Jawad said, as it attracts a lot of people that pass by. “I get stopped a dozen times a day and get many questions about how it feels to own one and what I use it for. It seems like a lot of people I have met are very interested.”
However, Jawad said he does not think it’s worth the hype. “but it is fun to have and use, specially as it’s still not available for the public. So, in a way, I do feel special.”
Six of Jawad’s friends in the UAE use them, of which four were invited by Jawad.
“Google Glass is the start of a whole new line-up of wearable computers. By next year, the consumer market will be packed with Glasses and watches that are paired to your smartphone and help feed you data that will be mind-boggling,” Jawad said.
He thinks it will change the medical field, the way people keep track of their health, and thinks people will no longer have to take out their smartphones from their pockets to reply to anything.
“These wearable computers will hopefully help us in a more positive way in the future. We are only scratching the surface. Can’t wait to see what the future has to offer.” Jawad said.
Amad Mian, 25, who is a Project Manager at The Online Project, said his company got the glasses from a member of the Explorer’s programme and he has been using them.
The Online Project is a social media agency based in Dubai, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
He said that most of the Google Glass features worked in the UAE, except for Google Now.
Mian said he tests out the features and see how they can be implemented in a user’s daily life, whether it would really make life simpler, and if it adds any value. He said they are also testing how it could be used for the company’s clients and what kind of applications they could build for the hardware.
“I walked around with it in Dubai Mall and around art galleries in Sharjah and Dubai. People loved it, they get so excited and had a tonne of questions about it.” Mian said.
While Mian said that the glasses are a work in progress and not yet perfect, he said it was definitely worth the hype. “It is truly remarkable with the things that it is capable of doing. Give it another two years and I think will have a real game changer.”
However, he said it’s too big so not very practical, it stands out and the battery doesn’t last long.