Google Glass Developers Preview Five New Glass Gaming Possibilities

With the retail debut of Glass rumored for later in 2014, Google Glass developers are working on video games to bring entertainment to Glass users.

To show off the gaming and entertainment promise for Google Glass, Google is working to create games that users can play on the head-mounted computing devices when they eventually go on sale to consumers later in 2014.

With that in mind, Google engineers have created five Glass "mini-games" that are available now as preview versions for early Glass users, known as "Explorers," so they can play with them and see how they work.

The games were unveiled on a Google Glass Developers Web page on Jan. 27 and were accompanied by a brief, 27-second video that shows off some of the games and their features.

"With tons of tiny sensors and a screen that fits neatly above the eye, Glass is an exciting new place to play," the Website states. "We hacked together five simple games that experiment with the unique features of Glass and demonstrate some of the possibilities for gaming. Test out the games and learn a little more about their features."

To play one of the games, users can tell Glass, "OK Glass, play a game," using a voice command.

"We bundled a few games together in the Mini Games Glassware, but you can jump directly into each one from the main voice menu," the post states. "This is an important theme on Glass: use voice actions to minimize the time it takes to go from intent to action."

Also helping to control the five new mini-games are the built-in Glass sensors, which "provide a unique playground for novel and intuitive user experiences," the post states. "Whether that's tilting your head in Balance, firing with your voice in Clay Shooter, or slicing with your hands in Shape Splitter, these games show how the sensors open up some new gaming possibilities."

Also making the games playable using Glass is their built-in simplicity, the post states. "Each game is visually simple and straightforward to play. We intentionally wanted games that are quick to get into when you have a few, free minutes and just as easy to get out of when you want to turn your attention back to reality."

The five mini-game experiments include a tennis game, where the user's head is the tennis racquet and the built-in Glass "gyroscope and accelerometer team up to precisely gauge the player's head tilts to move left and right," according to the post. The Min3D library on top of OpenGL was used by developers to render the ball and the court, the post states.

Also in the game mix is a title called "Balance," which asks users to shift their head so they can keep a precarious pile of shapes from toppling over atop their head. To build this game, Box2D was used to provide the physics simulation and AndEngine was used for rendering, according to the post.

The next game is "Clay Shooter," which is described as "a classic shooting game with a new point of view. Say 'Pull!' and a pigeon is launched in the direction you're looking," the post states. The accelerometer built into Glass and some Newtonian physics help determine the pigeon's path. The Min3D library on top of OpenGL was used for game rendering.

Also available is a card-matching game called "Matcher" that allows players to put their memory and concentration to the test in a different kind of matching game, according to the post. "The gyroscope and accelerometer team up to precisely follow the position of the player's head," while the Photosphere camera mode was used to map the surrounding cards.

The fifth game, "Shape Splitter," allows users to "have fun slicing and dicing shapes into oblivion," according to the post. "Slices" are detected when players move their hands in front of the Glass camera, the post states.

Google Glass released a Glass Development Kit in November 2013 to give developers broader control and innovation in their next designs and features for Google Glass apps. Google at the same time released five additional useful and innovative Glass apps for use by Glass Explorer users that were built using the new GDK.

Google Glass has been a topic of conversation among techies since news of it first arrived in 2012. The first Google Glass units began shipping in April 2013 to developers who signed up at the June 2012 Google I/O conference to buy an early set for $1,500 for testing and development, at which it was the hit of the conference. Google also then began shipping Glass units to lucky users who were selected in the #ifihadglass contest for the opportunity to buy their own early versions of Glass.

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 feature 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.