New Glassware Makes Toronto The Most Google Glass Ready City In The World

Toronto City with Google Glass

I had a dream. It came to me not long after I opened the white rectangular box that held my Google Glass. The vision was to make Toronto the most Glass-friendly city in the world. To do this, we needed apps that would make this futuristic device a valuable tool in this urban centre. With the launch of three new city-centric Glassware apps today, it looks like this dream is becoming a reality.

Glass already comes equipped with a couple of features useful in an urban setting. Google Maps gives you walking, biking and driving directions to help guide you to where you want to go, and Google Now keeps you updated with the latest three-day weather forecast.

New official apps are slowly being added to the directory of Glassware. Location-aware app, Field Trip, from Google-owned Niantic Labs became the twelfth official app this week. Originally a popular iPhone and Android app, Field Trip now feeds Glass owners geo-based information about the history, architecture and other hidden gems of a city as you move about it.

But there were still a couple of must-have apps for Glass to make this device just as essential as my smartphone. Transit times, bike-sharing info and nearby restaurant suggestions topped my list. As Google gives Glass Explorers access to their Mirror API to develop applications, I took advantage of this by partnering up with digital agency, SplitElement Inc. to create some apps.

Glass Eats is the first Yelp-powered Restaurant Finder app for Google Glass. The alpha version of this Glassware came out of the first-ever Canadian Google Glass Hackathon back in July where software developer, Aaron Surty, and I had three days to conceptualize, design and develop a working demo.

The app lets Explorers use Glass to get restaurant suggestions from Yelp for places nearby or by restaurant type. Users receive restaurant results in their timeline which they can then tap on to either call the restaurant to make reservations or get directions using the Maps feature on the device.

Finding a restaurant is nothing without being able to get there. And for the true urban dweller there is only one way to travel – transit. Transit apps are one of those things on your smartphone that you can’t believe you ever lived without.  So to make riding the red rocket here in Toronto a little easier with Google Glass was pretty important to me.

Stay Glassy, TTC, is a cheeky name for a very straightforward transit app. The app sends estimated arrival times for TTC bus and streetcar stops to Glass based on your location in the city. The app uses the City of Toronto’s Open Data API to provide real-time estimates and transit information. Stay Glassy fills a hole currently left by Google in the Maps feature on Glass which doesn’t give any transit information despite the fact that mobile and web versions have this.

Fellow Google Glass Explorer and independent game developer, Macy Kuang, had been working on a BIXI bike-sharing app when I met her at the Glass Hackathon. When I told her about my goal to make Toronto Glass-compatible, it was a no-brainer that her app needed to be part of the mix. Kuang’s app, BikeShare, tells users where the nearest BIXI station is. More importantly it tells users how many bikes there are at the nearest location available for rent or how many docks are open for drop off to help with planning your route.

Although there are only ten Canadians with Glass – the launch of these three Glassware apps make Toronto a city ready for any of the 10,000 Explorers to visit. It also creates a compelling reason for you to get your own Glass when Google makes it available to the public in 2014.

Photo Credit: Shlomi Amiga

Tom Emrich

Tom Emrich

Tom leads a double life as a freelance consultant and writer focusing on mobile, tablets and emerging technology. An early adopter since childhood, he blames his need to play with the latest in tech on a severe case of FOMO and a wide-eyed fascination that the future is unfolding right before our very eyes. He has recently embarked on a wearable tech journey as one of few Google Glass Explorers in Canada and is one step closer to becoming an outright cyborg.

  • John Dietrich

    Making Toronto a Google Glass City is a great concept, but will it take off? Is Toronto ready for glass? Are businesses ready to allow an influx of users wearing glass into their establishments? These changes are not insurmountable but if Toronto is going to be Google ready, we are going to need more than apps. We need policies, backing, and buy-in.

    The problem right now, is that the conversation is one sided with people who want Glass talking among themselves. The conversation needs to be brought to the surface and we need businesses to make the appeal of wearing Glass valuable to consumers.

    Apps can play a huge part in the conversation.