Grand Theft Auto hack turns Google Glass into head-up gaming display

Oct 4, 2013
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Grand Theft Auto and Glass may be more commonly about the broken variety than Google's wearable, but that hasn't stopped one developer from cooking up some head-up map integration between the game and the headset. Mike DiGiovanni's realtime GPS for Grand Theft Auto 3 on Glass may only work with the third installment of the game, not the latest - billion-dollar selling - GTA5, but its potential is clear: a live map showing your progress floating in the corner of your vision, rather than forcing you to take your attention away from the main action.

DiGiovanni is no stranger to Glass hacks. Having been the first non-Google developer to get third-party code running on the wearable - something still not officially supported - he then turned to security, adding a lockscreen to Glass, and even wink-controlled photography for under-the-radar snap sessions.

His intention this time around was to cook up a GPS display for Grand Theft Auto 5, but the absence of a PC version meant that wasn't possible during the hack time he had available on his daily commute. GTA4 wouldn't run on his laptop, leaving Grand Theft Auto 3 the best option.

The hack connects with Glass over a standard TCP connection, and keeps the wearable's display permanently active showing a moving birds-eye map of the area you're currently in. However, that persistent runtime does have a downside: battery life. DiGiovanni extrapolates that it'll drain a fully-charged Glass in about 45 minutes.

Not ideal, but the developer says that striking a better balance between active and standby time could be found, following Google's own strategy with navigation. "If I changed that to act like the traditional Glass GPS," he writes, "this could change the battery life dramatically."

So far there's no way to try this out yourself if you're a GTA3-playing Glass Explorer, but DiGiovanni is aiming to release some sort of version in due course. Meanwhile, the augmented reality potential for Glass is still yet to be fully explored, and while Google recently opened the door to a number of new Glassware applications, games are still in the minority for the platform.


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