Google Glass: the missing ingredient for hyperlocality

Writer: Peet Sneekes

We wondered, is Google Glass only interesting to so-called ‘gadgeteers’ or will this Google experiment survive the test of time and convince a wider audience?

With my colleague Floris Benniks, I undertook a one-day experiment. What can we make with Google Glass, iBeacon and access to the greatest data sources on the planet? In this article you will find our remarkable results.

Google Glass in de supermarkt | Mirabeau

Opportunity within limitations 

The limitations of Google Glass have been discussed at length: the aesthetic is less than desirable, the interaction takes some getting used to, the technology does not always work and battery life is very limited. Of course, Google Glass is an experimental tool, and the glass wearers are called ‘Glassplorers’ (‘Glass Explorers) for a reason. We feel Google Glass is a great way to discover new ways of input and interaction with reality.

Exploring new ways to interact is one of the pillars of the Google Glass experiment. How can you take in information without a screen in your hand or on your desk? How can you generate input with a single nod, voice command, wink, camera or touch? That combination makes Google Glass more than interesting: it makes it worth keeping an eye on individual innovations.

Test set-up: Google Glass with iBeacon

To see whether Google Glass provides additional value in a real-life situation, we decided to expand on our pop-up concept shop ‘Chocolaatje’.

Chocolade het missende ingredient voor hyperlocal| Mirabeau

‘Chocolaatje’ (‘little bit of chocolate’, red.) is a pop-up shop in a fictitious department store. With iBeacons we tempt the customer through small, personalised messages. When a visitor comes close to a Chocolaatje, or if there is a combination offer, they receive these messages through the app on their mobile device.

I-bacon het missende ingredient | Mirabeau

The expansion of our shop concept is obvious: can we show relevant, personalised information on a Google Glass screen through our ‘Chocolaatje’ iBeacon when the device is detected?

Optimal experience based on location, big data and Google Glass

Within this hyperlocal application we also want to display information from external sources. Combining additional information sources (APIs) is an important tool to ensure we offer relevant and personalised information. Real-time combination of user context and different data sources make this a big-data set-up. For our experiment, we work with one source: the API-data from a great museum combined with our Google Glass. Adding API completes our set-up:

“hyperlocal x big data = super relevant experiences”

This is how we describe offering people rich, personal information based on behaviour and location. Of course, this is a perfect situation for an e-commerce package with personalisation options. A Google Glass wearer will expect this information, as long as it is executed well by the company, it enriches their reality and is not experienced as being annoying.

This enhancement of reality can be an offer for a combination deal as soon as you enter a store; a sneak preview in line for the cinema or advice on upcoming museum visits – whatever comes to mind. This way, we make information valuable and easily available through Google Glass.

Google Cloud makes it possible

For this experiment, we developed a Glass+Chocolaatje app on our own server.

Google Drive cloud | Mirabeau

This is a straightforward web app with a code in Google Cloud. As a consumer, you can request the app in your personal Google Glass app store, similar to the iTunes App Store.  Within your browser – or on your mobile device - you can edit most settings, like sharing information and images or adding contacts.


So what is the result of our experiment? Google Glass is most certainly an exciting look into the future of personal interaction, hyperlocal services and information supply. Building Google Glass apps is quite straightforward, which suggests a serious effort on Google’s part. The developing tools and complete flow is well managed and it is not difficult to craft a functioning prototype.

Will we see ‘everyday folk’ wearing Google Glass in the near future? Until an ‘iPhone moment’ – that magical moment where ‘best in class’ technique and interaction come together to deliver real additional value for a wider audience - occurs, probably not.  For now, Google Glass is an experiment that supplies Google with a claim on patents for several partial experiments that are all interesting in their own right.

We’re not expecting a readily available Google Glass anytime soon. Instead, we’ll be seeing partial experiments within other, newer products. Keep an eye on shops and digital service providers, because this might happen sooner than you think.