Google Glass has so much potential to enhance our experience in a lot of the things we do. For those that have the luck and luxury of owning one, its most popular current use is for videos, pictures, and GPS. However, one developer has taken the concept of heads-up navigation even further. Mike DiGiovanni is an Emerging Technology Lead, who besides working on applications in mobile and wearable technology development, also works on developing apps for Glass. His most recent application he created is a real-time GPS app to play during GTA 3.
Mike has recently been featured in the news for trailblazing some of the first development of Google Glass apps. In New York, CNN interviewed him about his most recent app Winky, which allows users to take pictures by simply winking. He’s also created a auto-lock screen application for Glass called Bulletproof, and now this most recent GPS app for the game GTA 3. He posted an update on Sept. 30 of the app on Google+, stating:
I love the thought of Glass as an accessory for gaming. It's not the best use of development time or money at this point, but it's one hell of a fun idea.
Mike took the time to go over a few details about the app with me. Google Glass, which isn't set to be available to the public until around 2014, seems to be a great choice as a heads-up screen display in conjunction with video games. This makes an in game GPS navigation the perfect candidate for Glass.
'It works really well,' Mike stated when I asked him how playing GTA 3 worked with Glass.
'Surprisingly Glass works really great for navigation in a real car. It's not immediately obvious until you use it, but it sits near your rear view mirror and is much easier and safer to glance at than an in dash unit or your cell phone sitting in your lap. Glass as a GPS for GTA is a similar although not as dramatic benefit.'
So, what is this neat little GTA GPS app called? Well, no name yet he says.
'I was thinking maybe Glass Theft Auto, but didn't want people thinking that it actually helps you steal cars,' Mike explains.
As many know, GTA has been in the headlines a lot lately after the release of GTA 5, which was able to make a record profit of over $1 billion dollars in only 3 days. But is a literal heads-up display for Glass while playing really necessary? After all, the GPS display in the game seems to have been working for gamers up till now.
'While playing GTA 5, I was griping about how far in out of your normal line of sight the GPS is,' Mike explains. 'On a 47" TV it's merely inconvenient, but on a projector you feel like you are playing the mini map as opposed to the game. GTA4 benefited from having the high end cars give you voice based turn by turn directions. GTA5 lost that and GTA3 never had it. This puts the GPS in a much better location, but I think I'd probably be just as happy having the in game GPS in the upper right corner even without Glass.'
The price tag currently for the developer addition of Glass is $1,500, and the cost of consumer versions is still uncertain. This makes the realistic benefit to pairing Glass with video games a little shaky.
However, video games are all about entertainment, and with the next-gen consoles aiming to incorporate more hands-free abilities such as voice commands, Glass still may have a role to play. Mike suggests that reasonable things such as data you need to only quickly glance at in game could be one of them.
As an example of other games Glass could be applied to, he points to using a rear view mirror for Mario Kart, or the menu system in Dead Space where you '...interact with something vaguely similar within the game already.'
He continues, 'Some of the best Wii-U games are the ones where they pit the player with the main controller against everyone else. That player can have some amount of hidden information that nobody else is privy to. It makes for some really great asymmetric versus gaming. Glass is absolutely amazing for hiding information from everyone else.'
Using Glass with video games isn’t the only way to enhance games. He offers, 'Even getting away from video gaming, Glass could provide a way for tabletop gamers to hold a hand of cards secret without needing some sort of privacy board.'
Of course, the big question for GTA fans out there is whether he plans on making this GPS app for GTA 5.
'I plan to bring this up to speed with GTA 5, maybe GTA 4 if I can get it running on any of my computers,' he confirms. 'It just won't start for some reason.'
He also talks about working on more games in the future with Glass.
'I'd like to work on a completely original game using Glass in a unique way that we haven't seen before, but I'm not sure what direction to take it,” he enthuses. “I definitely would want to look into a multiplayer game using the direction you are looking combined with hidden information, but that's a pretty broad target.'
Mike in particular pointed to a virtual reality game called PSYCLOPSv1 developed by Sean McCracken as an example of a game unique to Glass. Sean describes this game on his Tumbler stating that in the game '...you have to look and lock on to alien ships to destroy them.' He also posts a YouTube video on the app’s Tumbler page as well that shows the game exactly from the point-of-view of a Glass wearer.
Even if Glass apps for video games right now aren't 'the best use of development time or money', seeing apps like Mike’s and Sean’s sure make it pretty fun to imagine and dream on the possibilities for gaming and Glass in the future.