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Google Glass via Engage Mobile makes music with Kansas City Symphony

Four members of the Kansas City Symphony wore the new Google Glass for a demostration of one of many aspects of the new technology possibilities of Google Glass.
Four members of the Kansas City Symphony wore the new Google Glass for a demostration of one of many aspects of the new technology possibilities of Google Glass.
Kelsey Diane Photography

The hype has begun for Google Glass since it was announced and covered on TV shows, most recently, the new prototype appeared on Shark Tank to demonstrate the capabilities of scanning various codes, but closer to home, four members of the Kansas City Symphony actually wore the Google Glass while Engage Mobile captured video of a performance on Friday, Jan. 31.

Yes, three musicians played double bass, French horn, and violin while wearing the new Google Glass. As they played, Google Glass recorded what they saw. Also, Kansas City Symphony Director Michael Stern wore the fourth pair so the video captured what he saw as he directed the KCS in a rehearsal of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

Kansas City Symphony announced earlier in the week that four members of the Kansas City Symphony will make history on January 31, 2014, when they provide a first-person perspective of performing Beethoven’s famous Fifth Symphony using the latest technology from Google — Google Glass inside Kansas City’s premier concert hall, Helzberg Hall of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

According to both Google and the KCS, four pairs of Google Glass marked the most pairs used at once for a coordinated activity in the nation outside of Google headquarters, and the event marks the premier time Google Glass will be used to record the views of four members in a professional symphonic orchestra.

The Kansas City Symphony teamed with Engage Mobile Solutions, the Kansas City-based mobile company, that works on mobile development and mobile marketing, to see what it is like to be a world-class musician in one of the country’s top orchestras.

According to a press release, the project captured what four professional musicians see while performing the iconic work, Beethoven’s Fifth. For example, viewers of the upcoming video see video from the violinist’s vantage points as she looks down the instrument, observing one hand pressing the strings on the neck of the violin and the other bowing across the strings, as well as watching the conductor or reading the music on the stand.

With further explanation provided by Google, “Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that has been developed by Google in the Project Glass research and development phases. Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like, hands-free format. This innovative new technology allows users to interact with the Internet via natural language voice commands to perform tasks like navigation, accessing the Internet, texting, taking pictures and shooting videos.”

Google Glass contains 12gig of memory to story video, photos and data. The new Google Glass gives hands free use with mostly voice commands, touches, and head nods. A spokesman for Engage Mobile said new apps will continue to be developed for Google Glass just like for smart phones. Along with capturing video, users can also broadcast live via the Google Glass.

Google Glass is an experimental product and will not be made available to the general public until later in 2014, a Google spokesman said. To see the first generation, simply google: google glass for an overview of the product.

“This is the first generation. It’s like the ‘bag phone’–if you will. As we continue to develop the product and fine tune it, Google Glass will evolve to so many more smaller and smarter, sleeker forms,” a spokesman for Engage Mobile said.

The combined video event continues the bond between Kansas City and Google that chose Kansas City as the first major city to have its newest Google Fiber installed in residences. The new Google Fiber is the fastest internet connection in the world and currently only available to Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Engage Mobile continues working with Google to develop software and explore unique applications of Glass, such as the Kansas City Symphony project. Engage Mobile Solutions and the Kansas City Symphony showcased Glass’ unique ability to record and share high-definition video. Expect a video of the performance soon to show just what Google Glass can do already. Expect the video in early February.

While the recording of the orchestra using Google Glass will be a private rehearsal only open to the media, the Symphony said it will later release a video of the performance. The KCS, further, expects to release a behind-the-scenes video featuring interviews from the musicians about the experience.

After the performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the four wearers of the Google Glass participated in interviews to give their perspective of the performance and experience. All had eager responses to the experience.

A few others on hand after the performance had the opportunity to try the new Google Glass and better understand the range of its capabilities. All were duly impressed, they said.

The new Google Glass expects to command about $1500, initially, but, the spokesman said that the product will eventually compete with smart phones and prices can drop over time to be more competitive with the smartphone market. He indicated that ideally, the product would come in below $800. Google expects to roll the product out in late 2014 or early 2015.

Prototypes already are being used as evidenced by Engage Mobile, the KCS video, and the Shark Tank TV show. The technology train continues to roll out new devices. Google Glass is the newest product on the runway preparing to take flight.

“What this product can do is amazing,” the spokesman said as he both explained and demonstrated the device. “It can tell you what time your plane leaves; it can search the internet for answers to questions you ask it; it records; it broadcasts; it gives GPS directions. It’s just amazing, and this is still stage one.”

Google Glass resembles a headband and is similar to a pair of glasses that a person wears. The innovative concept recognized voice commands and can take a photo, record a video, share live broadcasts, display GPS directions, send immediate audio messages, ask questions/find answers, translate into or from foreign languages and more.

To see and read more about Google Glass, information can be found at: http://www.google.com/glass/start/what-it-does.

According to a press release from KCS: “Engage Mobile Solutions is an award-winning mobile app and mobile software development company with a focus on mobile strategy and mobile marketing. Based in Kansas City, Mo., the company helps companies leverage mobile technology and marketing to drive profitability through increasing revenue, decreasing costs and managing risk. For more information about Engage Mobile Solutions, visit www.engagemobile.com or contact Matthew Barksdale at mbarksdale@)engagemobile.com.

Further information about KCS can be found on their website: kcsymphony.org.