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OK Glass, this is the voice I use to tell you to change settings

google glass prescription frame
Image Credit: Google

There’s yet another new voice app for Google Glass, this one allowing users to voice-control settings. Which raises the question: Will we use a different tone of voice to talk to the spectacles on our face than the one we use to talk to friends in front of us?

The app from developer Matthew Pierce, called Glass Master Control, lets you control audio volume, brightness, radios (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth), and other settings with voice commands. For those occasions when a voice command might be inappropriate – a boundary that is still emerging – there are also finger swiping equivalent controls for most options.

This Master Control is only the latest in a growing catalog of voice commands for Google’s prized wearable. Out of the box, this barely physical device comes with a wealth of recognized verbal commands. The learning curve for users may well resemble actors practicing their many lines.

Of course, those lines must be preceded by the salutation “OK Glass” before this maturing wearable will even give you the time of day.

But few people speak flawlessly, leading to another new app — also by Matthew Pierce — whose sole purpose in life is to erase what you’ve just said. “OK Glass, never mind,” you can say.

You might also have to practice saying that to some nearby person – “never mind” – when they wonder if you wanted them to turn the audio down.

A New Simon Says

It wasn’t that long ago, even in Net cycles, that talking to smartphones was odd. For that matter, headphones for mobile devices were once considered battering rams against normal conversation.

But, somehow, Glass feels different. Users will have to develop some ways to engage and then disengage from nearby members of the same species as they disengage and engage with Glass. Let us be the first to suggest that dropping your voice, Batman-like, could be the needed social cue.

Then there’s the issue of addressing, and talking to, all those other voice-recognition wearables on your body. It could easily become a kind of Simon Says, where your watch turns the audio down if you forget to properly address Glass first.

In search of some guidance for this new territory, we queried John Dalton, a Forrester analyst who covers user experience.

“There’s always a freakout phase,” he assured us. We’re not yet in it, though, since wearables – which might as well be called listenables – have not yet hit their stride.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Dalton said, mixing metaphors.

As with so many other kinds of behavioral adaptation, he noted, it will come down to “divisions by demographics,” by which he meant that older users should expect to feel left out.

A wearer of spectacles himself, Dalton said he would “not be comfortable” conversing with his accessory, in part because, as “something close to our bodies, we have a very personal relationship with them.”

And, as with any relationship, it could all come down to your tone of voice.


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