Google Glass Gets Mirror API - InformationWeek

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Google Glass Gets Mirror API

As Glass hardware rolls off the production line, Google says it's ready to start shipping.

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Google on Monday published details about how to write code that interacts with its Glass eyewear and notified developers who signed up to participate in its Glass Explorer Program that it has begun shipping Glass hardware in limited numbers.

"We're producing enough for everyone, but only a portion of them are ready today," Google said in an email to developers. "Therefore, we'll be notifying you in waves, and as soon as we're ready to invite you, we'll let you know. When the time comes, you'll receive an email with all the details."

Google lists the Glass technical specifications as follows: The screen is the equivalent of a 25" HD screen viewed from a distance of 8 feet; it records 5-MP still images or 720p video; audio is transmitted through a bone conduction transducer; it supports 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networking; it has 16 GB of Flash memory, 12 MB of which is usable and synced with Google Cloud; its battery is supposed to last for a day (less with heavy Hangouts usage); and it comes with a Micro USB cable and charger.

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With Glass hardware trickling out to early adopters, Google has published its Mirror API specification to allow developers to create applications that communicate with Glass devices through the company's cloud service.

Google last month provided an overview of the Mirror API at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas. Monday's update goes into greater detail.

The Mirror API allows developers to create applications -- Google proposes the term "Glassware" -- that interact with Google's servers, which in turn relay data to Glass hardware. This eliminates the potential security and stability issues that could arise if developers were able to run code directly on Glass.

Glass is designed to present information to users in a series of timeline cards, with interaction enabled through voice and an on-frame button. The Mirror API provides the mechanism to add, modify or delete these cards via REST commands over HTTP. Timeline cards, which as the name suggests are arranged in chronological order and can include images or video, persist for seven days in Glass hardware and for 30 days in the Mirror API.

The Mirror API allows apps to subscribe to notifications that are sent when a user interacts with a timeline card or when the user's location changes. It also provides access to location and contact data.

Google has specific policies for Mirror API usage that require developers to limit data collection and to adhere to privacy and security guidelines. Absent, however, is any mention of the privacy implications for people photographed or recorded by Glass users.

The company warns that Glass isn't for everyone. "Like when wearing glasses, some people may feel eye strain or get a headache," Google explains in its Glass FAQs. "If you've had Lasik surgery, ask your doctor about risks of eye impact damage before using Glass. Don't let children under 13 use Glass as it could harm developing vision."

Glass also isn't for making money, at the moment. Google's terms of service state that developers may not include ads in their Glass apps and may not sell their Glass apps, among other restrictions.

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