Barcode Scanning with Google Glass: A Future or Fantasy? #ifihadglass

Lots of speculation has been flying around regarding what Google Glass and other wearable computing devices mean for the future of mobile tech and the world we live in. Today we’re going to share the details we’ve found regarding Google Glass, and discuss its potential to be combined with barcode scanning and product data services to create innovative new apps. #ifIhadglass

What We Know

Recently, the Google team gave developers at SXSW an in-depth look into Google Glass and the elusive Mirror API.  The Glass team also demonstrated some early uses of the Mirror API on Glass that were built by Evernote, The New York Times, Path, and their own Gmail team.

This 50 minute video represents the latest details Google has released regarding Project Glass:

The Experience

The Glass video reveals that there is a touchpad on the upper right side of the device that allows users to navigate through the device, as well as voice command functionality.

Touch – Selects an item to activate a service or command, or enter a bundle of cards within a service.

Swipe – Allows a user to navigate through the Glass timeline, or different cards within a service.

Voice Commands

“ok glass” – is the first thing a user says to tell Glass that they’re about to give it a command.

Other voice commands revealed on the video include: “take a picture”, “record a video”, “get directions to”, “send message to” and “search.”

The talk reveals that developers will be able to design their own menu commands, though it is not clear if they will have control over voice options. If they do, you’re likely to see a “scan barcode” or “scan” command appear for barcode scanning apps.

Developing for Glass

The basic building blocks of the API:

Timeline CardsVisual slides developers can insert into the Glass display. Timeline cards represent the visual experience of your app.

Menu OptionsMenu options can be system options, like “Reply” or “Read Aloud,” or they can be custom options of your design.

Share EntitiesShare entities allow the user to share some experience on glass through a service, for example sharing a picture on Google.

SubscriptionsBy subscribing to updates to the timeline, developers get notified with lightweight JSON pings if user hits a card option or a share entity.

Bundles – groups of timeline cards which can be navigated through by clicking into a deeper level of a cover timeline card.

The Mirror API

The Mirror API is a Cloud API that works with RESTful services, OAuth2.0 and the data is transported via JSON. Since the API is RESTful, HTTP standards can be used to develop for Glass: POST to Insert, PUT to Update, DELETE to delete, GET to list any items in a collection. This applies to timeline Cards, Images, Rich HTML, System options and Subscriptions.

Developer Guidelines

Timothy Jordan, a developer evangelist for Glass, suggests four guidelines when developing for Glass:

Design specifically for Glass, don’t get in the way of the human experience, keep your apps timely  and your information fresh, and avoid unexpected functionality. With these guidelines we can see that Google is trying to keep users in the present moment, eliminating the tendency for technology to get in the way of our everyday experiences.

Barcode Scanning on Glass

Given what we know about Google Glass, we can speculate that “hands free” barcode scanning on Glass is right around the corner.

A consumer-focused example would be a Scandit price comparison app on Glass where a product barcode is scanned by simply saying “scan” or with a simple tap on the side of the device.  Then a timeline card could be posted with detailed product information and pricing data. In an enterprise setting, Glass could enable “hands free” inventory management or order picking, where an employee simply looks at a barcode to scan it, and then says a quantity aloud to record it. Just imagine our scan technology scanning barcodes at lightspeed from a computer living on your head, delivering product information at a glance. We won’t know for sure how well these types of usage scenarios can be supported until we actually get our hands on Glass, but we’re optimistic that Google Glass will push tech into a new and very interesting space. And we will be ready when this happens…

Stay tuned for updates and let us know your thoughts below.