Google Glass Devices Get Improved Photo-Taking Capabilities

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-06-05

Google Glass Devices Get Improved Photo-Taking Capabilities

Google Glass just got a big upgrade for its camera, with the release of new software that now better detects low-light situations and includes automatic High-Dynamic-Range (HDR) photo-taking capabilities.

The updated software release, which is being rolled out to the Explorer developers who received the first Glass devices, was unveiled by Google in a June 4 post on the Google+ Glass page.

"One of the great things about Glass is that the software automatically updates monthly, so Glass gets better every single month without you having to do a thing," the post said. "Today we're releasing new software for the camera on Glass. It captures a rapid sequence of shots behind the scenes every time you press the camera button which, when combined, gives you a better picture than what you would get with a single shot."

For Glass users, that means that they will get much-improved images when shooting in low light, according to the post. The improved software update will detect low-light situations and automatically capture a brighter, sharper picture, while HDR will now automatically be used to take pictures in bright scenes. The new software works even in tough situations where there are moving subjects, the post states. Google created an online album where viewers can see images taken with the old software and with the new version.

The new captioning feature included in the software update now brings up a screen that invites users to add a caption to their photographs. When the message appears on Glass, users can tap the touchpad and speak their caption, and the caption is automatically created and placed with the image, according to the post.

This marks the second software update for Glass, with the first coming in early May when features such as incoming Google+ notifications for users were added. Also included in that first Glass XE5 software update was crash reporting for the devices, increased speed for transcription of queries and messages, and the inclusion of international number dialing and Short Message Service (SMS).

The very first Google Glass preview units began shipping in April only to Glass developers who signed up at the original June 2012 Google I/O conference to buy an early set for $1,500 for testing and development. The Glass project was unveiled officially for the first time to developers at that event, where Glass was the hit of the conference.

Each Google Glass device includes adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also boast a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio is delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers that were revealed in earlier reports.

Google Glass isn't yet ready for the general public, but sales of the devices are now expected to begin sometime later this year, according to a recent eWEEK report. That's at least months earlier than the 2014 retail debut the company had been targeting since last year, a source inside Google told eWEEK. The source would not elaborate on why the retail launch schedule is being moved up.

Google Glass Devices Get Improved Photo-Taking Capabilities

Google recently banned adult-oriented, sexually explicit apps from being offered by developers for its Google Glass devices, just days before what appears to be the first such app was announced by a vendor. The Google Glass ban on adult content is found in Google's Glass Platform Developer Policies, which now specifically states that the company forbids "Glassware content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material," according to the policies.

The policy changes came just before the appearance of an adult-oriented app for Glass from MiKandi, whose Website describes the company as an adult app store, according to a story from

The racy app has apparently since been removed from Google's app store.

The concept of Google Glass has been a hit so far for Google, but some critics argue that they continue to be worried about the privacy implications surrounding the use of Glass, which is an eyewear-mounted computer that features a still camera, a video cam and other real-time recording features. And this week has been an especially busy one for Google and its Glass project when it comes to privacy and societal standards.

In addition to Google banning adult-oriented apps, on May 31 the company announced that it will not allow facial recognition apps on Glass— at least for now—until strong privacy measures can be put in place to protect users and the public from misuse. Several privacy experts told eWEEK that the move to ban facial recognition apps for now was probably the right call.

These are not the first incidents where privacy issues involving Glass have arisen.

A West Virginia legislator introduced a bill this past March that would have banned drivers from operating motor vehicles while wearing Glass and similar head-mounted devices, but the bill stalled and no action was taken in the last session of the state House.

Some members of the U.S. Congress are also taking up the cause of asking lots more questions about the privacy implications of Google Glass, even before the devices are sold to the general public, according to a recent eWEEK report.

In May, the Bi-partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page asking some pointed questions about how Google planned to ensure that the privacy of users and, more important, non-users was being protected. The members of the caucus noted a series of stories in the media that had emerged about Google Glass, particularly about its ability to find detailed information about a person just by looking at them, and letting Google perform facial recognition and then providing all available information.

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