Google has snatched up ex-Rdio software engineer Ian McKellar to bolster its growing Google Glass wearable computing team, as the company readies its first “Explorer Edition” hardware for developers in early 2013. McKellar formerly worked on the API for streaming music service Rdio, but has a history in developing social-integrated browsers and for Danger, supporting the Sidekick smartphone later acquired by Microsoft.
At Danger, McKellar was responsible for a webpage server that “transcoded web pages to Danger’s hiptop smartphones” among other things, helping trim the bandwidth fat from sites and make sure they’d display correctly on the handsets themselves. That experience could well be of interest to the Glass team, since regular webpages are likely to require some reformatting to suit the wearable eyepiece of the Google headset.
Eyes-on reports from those who have tried out Google’s current prototypes suggest the user-experience as it stands sees floating iconography and other information superimposed at the top of the wearer’s line-of-sight. Glass will not only need a way to parse online data to suit that minimized display segment, but to trim the information fat so as to avoid lag or huge tethering bills.
One way around that could be heavy server-side processing, crunching the data for each individual user – whether alerts, Twitter or Google+ pings, messenger requests or websites – and then squirting it over to their eyepiece. That would reduce the amount of processing power the Glass wearable itself would require, thus cutting down on power consumption.
McKellar also worked on the Flock social networking and media sharing browser, which had heavy integration with Facebook and other services. Google is likely to focus on Google+ integration in Glass initially, but is unlikely to ignore Facebook, Twitter and other third-party services in the long term.
The first Google Glass Explorer Edition units went on sale to developers at Google IO, and are expected to be shipped out early in the new year. A consumer version is planned for within a year of that point.