Google Glass and cycling – a match made in heaven?

Google Glass

Love it or hate it – there’s no doubting modern technology is having a big impact on cycling.

The next big thing is wearable technology. In that particular category, it is Google Glass that is turning the most heads.

What is Google Glass?

The video above of Sergei Brin offers perhaps the most enticing explanation.

It’s a little like a weird, futuristic pair of glasses that you’ll be able to speak commands to and see the results in the corner of the glasses. For example, you can take a picture or record video, see your text messages or follow directions.

It all might see a little futuristic for now, but its probably the kind of technology we’ll all be walking around with in the next two to three years.

Love it: Google Glass + Cycling

How could you use Google Glass for cycling?

  • Live maps – We’ve already gone from ordnance survey maps to iPhone maps, but with Google Glass we could see the map in front of our very eyes. That’s got to be a good thing in a busy city like London where everyone is (seemingly) always in a rush
  • No need for a Go Pro camera on top of your helmet. With Google Glass you’ll simply be able to say ‘Glass, record’, and the glasses will start filming. This could be really helpful if you have any confrontations with drivers, or want to report bad driving etc. The same goes for taking pictures.
  • Easily accessible maintenance apps like Bike Doctor – it’s easy enough getting your phone out to follow instructions for some roadside maintenance, but it could soon be even easier.
  • Bike stats. You could find yourself literally staring down your personal best for a particular stretch of road.

For me, when I’m on my bike is when I do a lot of my thinking – I think about the novel I’m writing, the shopping I need to do or my plans for the evening. Theoretically, with Google Glass I can research aspects of my novel, do my shopping and find a pub to meet friends at. Although, not if I when I’m in need of my full concentration in traffic.

Jet Recon

Google Glass isn’t the only option. Other manufacturers such as Recon Jet have products that are appealing for cyclists. In their demo they show a speedometer along with the position of your fellow cyclists in a race.

Hate it: Technology gone too far..

There are of course downsides, though many of these will simply be a case of getting used to new technology.

Probably the most obvious negative at this early stage is the fact that they are bound to impact on concentration levels. When you’re riding along, and concentrating on the map in front of you that tells you when exactly you need to turn left, will your brain be able to cope, simultaneously, with the fact that there’s a cyclist approaching on your inside, or that a motorbike is zooming past you at a worryingly close distance?

It would seem that there isn’t going to be much that Google Glass can’t do – and their sophistication is clear when you see that Google has had to ban developers from integrating facial recognition into their apps, because of the obvious security concerns.

Despite my excitement, it’s clear there is some concern and pessimism amongst other cyclists. When we tweeted about Google Glass recently, typical responses were along the lines of:

 “They look fun – but why would I need them?”

And that to me is a typical response ahead of technology that is new, and we will need to adapt to. Smartphones, tablets, Kindles… all technology that at one time didn’t exist, and there were many cynics wondering what the point was. Now they’re all engrained in our daily lives. Personally, I’m really excited about the prospect of Google Glass and think on the whole the technology will have a huge benefit on day-to-day cycling.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

11 Responses to Google Glass and cycling – a match made in heaven?

  1. Yukari 10/06/2013 at 10:11 am #

    If we can’t get road users off their phones and ipods as it is, this will make the situation even worse.

  2. Dex 10/06/2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Problem is it most likely won’t be only cyclists using it, but also car/bus/truck drivers,as if the roads weren’t dangerous enough already. And will it have the capacity/capability of a GoPro to provide top quality HD video? I don’t know enough about the spec of these things. In general, a distraction that is hardly a useful innovation for anyone using the roads in any capacity ie Bike, Car etc etc.

  3. Big Softy 10/06/2013 at 8:04 pm #

    This could turn out to be a fantastic bit of technology if used correctly. But it could also turn out to be a major hazard if used on the road.
    I would imagine one would have to adjust the focus of the eye to read any info on display, plus it would be a distraction just like texting.
    I reckon it’ll only be a matter of time before this is responsible for road deaths.

  4. Cameron 10/06/2013 at 9:44 pm #

    You could have a yellow line down the road which is matching the strava KOM on your favourite segment. It would be just like the pool at the olympics!

    I like it.

  5. Patrick 11/06/2013 at 6:17 pm #

    Awful PR stunt at making google ‘glass’ look sexy. Of course they want cyclists to wear it, the target demo is all overweight people that never go outside.

  6. Kie7077 14/06/2013 at 2:04 pm #

    I think you hit the nail on the head, perfect place for GPS and bike cam. I would prefer it didn’t have a phone / texting / messaging built in, because I don’t particularly want to spoil the enjoyment of riding.

  7. Henry Lewis 14/06/2013 at 5:29 pm #

    At £1000-£1200 IDONT THINK SO.

  8. Colin Francis Best 15/06/2013 at 7:06 am #

    So why dont’t we study the route and make sure we know our way map reading and detours some time need to be made with the ever increasing accidents and Emergency road repairs.
    We normaly have one map reader who discuses the route then suggests a detour which would be interesting on our way when touring Nourth Devon or Cornwall.
    Sounds great like all these ideas but as someone said @ a cost very few could even consider.I prefer a viser to keep Bee’s and large flies out off our eys and mouth when cycling and grit and dust off course.

  9. Nyge 15/06/2013 at 9:07 am #

    Processing all this information we are going to grow bigger parts in our brains! Soon people will be asking if augmented reality is so good, why bother with reality at all? Then we may as well leave the bike at home and just sit with GGs on… well it’s ‘easier’ isn’t it? My question is, does the promise of ‘easiness’ make life worth living more or less??

  10. Yuriy Akopov 16/06/2013 at 11:18 am #

    Don’t rush, battery life seems to be quite short according to existing reviews.

  11. Alf-in 21/06/2013 at 12:04 am #

    Yes but……. Doesn’t Google already knows too much about us to leave them a door wide open to our minute to minute life

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