What is Google Glass or how to start programming

18 December 2013
By Alexey Rybakov, Senior Developer

In this article, we will talk about Google Glass Explorer Edition that was released in February 2013 by Google.

First announced and shown in a gorgeous presentation at Google IO 2013, Glass Explorer Edition was pre-ordered by 2000 developers from all over the world.

Then another 8,000 people were able to order the device as part of the “If I Had Glass” program: to be able to buy Glass, it was necessary to write what you would like to do with it. In November 2013 Google provided each Glass owner with three additional invites that he could present to anyone. Now this giveaway is over, and approximate amount of Glasses is about 12000. But in February, the Explorer Edition cost was $ 1,500.

Explorer Edition is produced by FoxConn (the same company that produces all Apple devices). And this is what the device itself consists of:

  • OS: Android 4.0.4 (for XE10 version).
  • CPU: Texas Instrument OMAP 4430 SoC, dual core 1.2Ghz ARMv7 (works at the lower frequency).
  • Memory: 1GB – 682 available for developers.
  • Storage: 16GB – 12GB available for applications.
  • Display: 640×360 (equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away to quote Google).
  • Connection: Bluetooth, WiFi 802 11 b/g.
  • Input: voice recognition, Multitouch touchpad, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor.

Here is an illustration of how the screen works (taken from dailymail.com):

The way the sound card works is even more fascinating: there are no earphones, there is a sensor behind the right ear, and the sound is transferred by means of bone conduction of sound.

What’s interesting is that you can influence the quality of the image or sound very easily with your hands. To do this, just put your hand behind the screen or cover your ears with both hands. Quality improves incredibly.

As for the software, Google did not invent the wheel and installed Android 4.0.4. Moreover, following their free spirit, Google posted the source code of the firmware, installation guide, and root bootloader.

Glassware development

Developers have two ways of developing software, or as they are called in Glass concept – “Glassware”.

The first way is to use the GDK (Glass Development Kit), which requires knowledge of Android, Java or C + + as the programming language.

You just have to set up Glass SDK using Android SDK Manager



And by the way, at the 20th of November GluMobile presented the first game developed specifically for Google Glass that is already available at google.com/myglass

Tellingly, you will not need Google Glass itself for the initial development. Moreover, there is no special SDK, you just use standard Android 4.0.3. There are also several examples from Google that demonstrate how to create an application. The second way is to use the Mirror Api, and then the concept is as follows:

By using a RESTful api, your program (written on any language) will be able to send Glass little messages (Timeline Items).

The messages are displayed immediately (as well is in GDK, and you will need your Google Glass to be associated with a Gmail account to work with the Mirror API.)

Mirror Api has a detailed description on Google’s site, so we will not include it to our article. Instead, we will tell you about ways of testing it with the help of an Android-based phone. The method described below was successfully tested on Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Note.

This has actually become possible after one guy known as zhuowei and the community decompiled Google Glass firmware and transformed its components into modified apk-files.

So, there are actually three steps.

First step

Download and install these apk-files to your phone found here https://github.com/zhuowei/Xenologer:

  • glassbrowser-modded.apk
  • glasshome-modded.apk
  • glasspeople-modded.apk
  • glasssetup-modded.apk
  • glassvoice-modded.apk

After the installation, you should launch glasssetup-modded.apk and proceed to the second step.

Second step

Log into your Gmail account on the following page: https://glass.google.com — the account should be the same as on your phone.

  1. Welcome screen – just press “next”
  2. Agree to the Terms of Services.
  3. Write whatever you want into Add a Wifi network field
  4. Sync your device — just press Continue.
  5. And if everything is ok, you’ll see the following screen:

After all this magic, you’ll be able to try any MirrorAPI from the list – and all the notifications and timeline will be received by the phone the same way Google Glass would, and moreover, you’ll be able to try voice commands (“Okay Glass, Google “DataArt””)

And now we are approaching the third step, namely the development itself.

And for this, you should create a project in the Console: https://code.google.com/apis/console.

And turn on the Mirror API.

And that’s it! :)

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