Google Glass Unveiled: The Story Behind the 'OK Glass' Command

In a fascinating blog post, the product marketing manager for Google Glass tells how the "OK Glass" voice command came about for Glass users.

"OK Glass," the simple voice command used by Google Glass users to perform various functions with their devices, went through a series of options before becoming the choice for voice commands.

In a fascinating peek inside the development process for the innovative, cutting-edge Glass devices, Google Product Marketing Manager Amanda Rosenberg recently filed a blog post on Google+ that pulled the curtain back on how the command came to fruition.

It all started with an April 2012 dinner invitation from the Google Glass product manager, Mat Balez, wrote Rosenberg in the July 16 post. After the dinner with Balez and his wife, Balez, who had had already been working on Glass for a while, mentioned that Glass did not yet have a marketing team, she wrote.

"In the car on the way back, Mat told me about how the team had been working on the 'hotword' for Glass," the word that would be spoken by users to give voice commands to Glass, wrote Rosenberg. "He then asked me if I had any ideas for the hotword. In that moment the only phrase I could think of was "OK Glass.' I didn't tell him straightaway though. Instead, I continued to look pensive and muttered something about 'looking into it' just to appear as though I was going to put more than 3 seconds of work into it."

Already, the Google Glass team had been considering many other phrases as the hotword command, such as "Listen up Glass," "Hear me now," "Let me use Glass to," "Go Go Glass," "Clap on Device, please," "3, 2, 1 …," "Glassicus," "Glass alive" and "Pew pew pew," according to a list Balez had forwarded to Rosenberg.

When Rosenberg got home after that fateful dinner, she got to work thinking about other possibilities, she wrote. "I tried my best to think of something else, anything else so that I could at least have a few options to send to Mat. Alas, I could not think of any others. I've been fortunately cursed with a one-track mind. So, I decided to put all my Glass eggs in one basket and send over a rationale for 'OK Glass.'"

In an email to Balez, her argument for using "OK Glass" included the fact that since Glass was to be used by people in public, the voice command should be something that is innocuous and simple.

"I pondered carefully about this (off and on) for the last 2 days and came full circle to the initial thought I'd had in the car with – OK," wrote Rosenberg to Balez. "OK, the most frequently used word on the planet. Denotes approval, acceptance, agreement, assent, or acknowledgement, but is also a frequent expression used for transitions in conversation."

In that context, she wrote, OK could be used for a command with any sort of Google device. "OK + (fixed keyword) – A fixed pre-defined expression that relates to the name of the product, the name of the feature," such as "OK, Android," "OK, Google," "OK, Glass."

In that way, the expression is as simple and natural as saying, "OK, Amanda," she argued in the email.

"Anyway, those are just some initial thoughts," Rosenberg wrote to Balez in her email. "Would love to discuss further or (if I'm way off with this one) never talk about it again."