The Google Glass prism is a fascinating piece of technology, but how does it work? Read on and learn more…
Martin Missfeldt created this infographic to describe how the Glass prism works. The graphic is from February, before Glass was available to anyone outside Google. Martin’s theories were based on the Glass patent and various other sources listed at the bottom of the graphic. However, I suspect he did not have the benefit of seeing a good photo of the Glass prism (like mine) which might account for this major oversight.
This image has been posted hundreds of thousands of times (according to a Google image search), even on popular tech sites like Mashable, but has anyone noticed this?
The angle of the screen is backwards!
The relationship between the prism and the eye is not really accurate either. Here’s a photo of me looking through Glass. Compare it to the illustration above. The screen was positioned for best visibility before the photo was taken.
Perhaps it was mirrored to deflect sunlight that would otherwise diffuse the image on the screen. Or maybe it’s so inquisitive people like me can’t look into the projector. But that doesn’t explain why that surface is convex.
So how does the prism work?
Well, there’s a reason I started by saying “Read on and learn more” instead of “Here’s the answer”. There are currently several players in the wearable tech game and I don’t think Google wants to expose their hand quite yet. I’m sure many companies hope to copy the Glass prism, and while imitation may be the highest form of flattery, flattery doesn’t win the game.
Here are some new Macro shots that show more of the structural details of the Glass prism.
Check the Macros page for more great Glass shots.
I’d been wanting to see how Glass measures up to the challenge of night photography. As luck would have it, I found myself in Branson, Missouri, which seemed a perfect spot for a nighttime photographic study.
So here is Glass vs DSLR at night with subject matter you’ll never see in California or New York.
There is no DSLR on that last one, but I couldn’t resist including it.
Most of the DSLR shots were done at ISO-1600 which allowed me to get a decent exposure without a tripod. Of course the DSLR shots would have less noise with a long exposure at ISO-100, but that wouldn’t be a fair comparison at all.
These Glass shots have a 1/15 sec. exposure at f/2.5. Glass changes the ISO as light conditions change. These shots have various ISO speeds like 363, 418, 551, 678, 727, 960, to name a few. Quite a range, and certainly a brilliant way to get properly exposed photos without the use of a flash.
When I did pro wedding photography, 1/60 sec. was considered a good exposure for handheld shots. However, your head is pretty stable, so 1/15 seems like a good bet for clear shots from a headheld camera. Once you are using the lowest F-stop and the longest safe exposure, the only variable you have left to work with is ISO. Glass reads the light and picks the appropriate ISO, and there you have the best possible photo.
So even though I think the nighttime DSLR shots are generally better, I am very impressed with the Glass shots. I had to set the ISO with my DSLR and then monitor my exposures to make sure they weren’t going too long. I was using complicated settings on a complex camera and I had the benefit of years of SLR experience. The question is not really whether a DSLR can capture better images. Of course it can! And the more effort and expense you are willing to invest, the better your DSLR results will be.
The question is, what can Glass accomplish with virtually NO effort and no expertise…? Can Glass capture the moments you want to remember?
In my opinion, the answer is YES!
This is the view through the Google Glass screen. My video camera was able to pick up all of the audio from Glass, so you are hearing the sound effects and Google answers DIRECTLY from Glass.
It’s difficult for people to visualize what it’s like to look through Glass, so I’m working on some videos to demonstrate it.
This one shows the difference between focusing on the prism and focusing on the projection. Of course your eye can see the full projection because it is much closer to the prism.
Last week I released a photo comparison between Google Glass and my Nikon D5100 DSLR. Those photos were all taken outdoors on a sunny afternoon, and many people said that Glass wouldn’t do nearly as well on indoor photographs.
Well, now we can find out. I took these photos today. The Glass version was taken at the same time as the DSLR version, and I was standing (or sitting, or crouching) in the same position for both shots.
In order to recreate the wide angle view of the Glass lens, I used my ultrawide 10-24mm lens and set it to 14mm. When I bought my DSLR, I got an 18-55 lens and thought that was as wide as I would ever need. The only reason I got the 10-24 was to do Milky Way photography. Most times, that lens is wider than I would want.
However, the idea with Glass was to get the wearer’s perspective. They wanted the user to be able to capture the moment as he or she was seeing it. When you use Glass, you’ll be grateful for this choice if only because it makes it easier to capture what you were aiming for.
The lack of a preview screen or viewfinder makes it difficult to compose SOME photographs. If you’re trying to get certain things (or people) into the shot and keep other things (like a messy corner) out of the shot, you may end up having to use a trial-and-error approach.
However, with the wide angle view, you’re more likely to get the things you want in, and you can always crop other stuff out!
Glass does not do as well with direct light or high contrast situations. However, this problem is to be expected. When that factor is not in play, the Glass photos look almost identical to the photos taken with the DSLR, which is really quite a feat! Overall, the color intensity was good, details looked nice, and the Glass photographs had depth and dimension.
It was rather difficult to find good subject matter for indoor wide-angle shots. Those two things don’t really go together, so I set up some odd-but-colorful tableaus which should demonstrate various lighting conditions on a variety of textures and forms. I hope it helps!
ps: Today my photos uploaded rather quickly to G+, so I thought I would just download those instead of uploading them from the Glass device via USB. However, the first one I opened (which was #10) was much smaller than the other Glass photos had been. To give you a sense of scale, the “GLASS” logo and number were huge by comparison when I dragged them over in Photoshop. Perhaps there is a secret to downloading the high-resolution versions from G+, or perhaps they’re never uploaded to begin with.
I’ll look into that further, but I thought I should make note of it ASAP in case anyone else tries downloading the G+ images as I did without having the larger versions to compare. If your photos are not as high-res as mine, that might be why.
This one will give you a sense of scale:
This is the Glass screen. The projected image is out of focus, but you can see the top, bottom, right and left edges of the prism clearly.
Now look at a photo of Glass where the message is in focus:
The shots are taken from the back. That is to say, if you were facing the wearer, this is what you might see on his screen. To give you a sense of scale, the Glass prism, which is about 1cm high, takes up the entire height of this photo.
And here are the search results. Of course the ultra-high resolution Glass screen looks much better, and from the front the image looks significantly larger.
It is strangely difficult to photograph the screen from the front. I’m still working on it, but the focus point is nearly impossible to locate. Once found, it has a strange effect of being larger on the inside than it is on the outside. That’s an odd way to say it, but maybe this horrible photo will demonstrate it a bit:
Like I said, I’m working on it.
This photo of Glass was taken from the front – the wearer’s perspective. The purple blob is the whole screen area, but the card that is displayed here is easily four times larger than what you can see. It’s a restaurant called Balabans. I’ve never been there, and I don’t know why the card is there, and I can’t seem to get rid of it. The card shows a photo of the restaurant on one half and the name and hours on the other half. You can read “Open until ?0:00 PM” on the photo but, as I said, that’s only a fraction of the card’s content.
So how is it that your eye can see the whole card but the camera’s lens can only see a portion? Maybe that rumor about Glass projecting an image onto your retina is based in fact…?
Well, I’ll find some way to bring you a better view of the Glass screen!
In case you’re wondering how I get app screenshots, like the ones I used on the New York Times app review, they are screenshots from my phone. The MyGlass Android app can “Screencast” the Glass content onto my phone’s screen :-)
This is a quick Glass vs DSLR that illustrates Glass’s limitations in the world of close-up photography.
This is the Glass photo. The closest flowers are out of focus. I was standing a few inches away but this is as intimate as the image would get.
The image below is the DSLR version shot with my Nikon D5100 with 60mm Micro Lens:
Of course you might say “Why are all the flowers in the background blurry?” If you’re not into impressionistic blur, bokeh effects or other Macro techniques, Glass may be perfect for you. It’s all just a matter of personal taste.
I remember showing two very different flower photos to my mom once and having her say
“I like the second one better because the background isn’t as blurry.” Alas, she didn’t know that I had taken a dozen photos of the same exact scene, the only difference being aperture which controls the blurriness of the background. I picked the one that I thought was just right, then showed it to her along with a completely different image taken from a different angle with changes to the lighting and composition… In the end, the most vital aspect to her was the blurriness of the background. She liked less, I liked more. It’s just personal taste.
So if you like less blurriness, just remember not to stand too close. Below is a cropped version of the Glass photo where I removed some of the excess clutter (at least I saw it as clutter):
And now I will admit that, after seeing the Glass version, I rather liked the deeper focus too. It would be nice to go back and get a shot that was somewhere between the Glass shot and my original DSLR shot. Maybe tomorrow…
Here’s a new Glass macro photo – this one “focussed” on the camera.
Can’t decide which version I like better so I’m sharing both!
If you want to hangout with someone via your Glass, there are a few steps that must be taken first…
1. They must be in a G+ circle of yours (obviously, for a G+ hangout).
2. You’ll need to go to the MyGlass website and turn them “On” under Sharing Contacts.
3. You must initiate the hangout with them by saying “Ok Glass”… “hang out with”… and then a list of your possible options will appear. Say the same of the person or circle you want to contact. If the person you want is not on the list, perhaps you didn’t do #2.
I had this problem yesterday because I thought I could just add the person as a contact on the MyGlass app on my Android, but that didn’t add them to the hangout list. I thought it wasn’t syncing. More accurately, it wasn’t sinking in that I was going about things the wrong way.
4. As of now, you cannot enter an existing hangout from Glass. Rather, you must initiate the hangout on Glass and invite people from there. Makes things a little more challenging, but if you plan ahead with well-organized circles, it may end up second-nature in no time.
Here’s a new video I captured today from my computer screen showing the feed from Glass in a G+ Hangout. I thought the quality issues I saw yesterday might have been due to poor light, but today’s version doesn’t look much different. Considering it’s a live broadcast from a tiny wearable camera, I’d say it’s quite impressive all the same!
Just as before, here’s a comparison video recorded on Glass, uploaded to my Computer and then up to YouTube with significantly higher quality.