The eyewearable device known as Google Glass has added a new trick beyond its voice and fingertip-controlled applications: the eye-wink photo command. The new capability allows Glass to recognize when the user winks, which prompts Glass to take a photo. The capability was previously accomplished by voice command or pressing a button on the side of Glass.
Google added the capability in the latest software update on Glass OS version X12. When “wink for picture" is selected from the new options list, the capability is activated on the device. Selecting it first guides the user into a calibration menu to help optimize the wink commands so that Glass can distinguish involuntary blinks from the user actively winking to take a photo.
Users reported mixed success in setting up and using the wink command. Mashable's Lance Ulanoff reported, "Initially, I gave up. Eventually, though, I went back ... I noticed the screen sort of wink back at me once, then again as I winked. I received an on-screen confirmation of success." Ulanoff said Glass subsequently took photos of his desktop, mistaking his involuntary blinking for wink commands.
The update reveals a broader technology in Glass than taking photos by winking. The capability makes clear that the device includes a sensor that collects images of the eye that can be processed to enable eye commands. This technology could potentially enable eye tracking and other eye gaze functions that could offer an alternative to other fingertip commands on the side of Glass and voice commands that may be inappropriate in many situations.
Since both fingertip and voice are associated with operating handheld devices, it is widely believed that eyewearables must provide additional intuitive methods. Considering the position of the device, eye gaze commands and eye tracking are obvious alternatives. Glass may be enabling such methods through the same chip located in the temple area that projects images to the eye. Mirror images may allow it to collect information in addition to sending it.