Google Glass Is Open - Feel Free To Hack
Written by Mike James   
Monday, 29 April 2013

Google Glass has been in the hands of the hacking public for some days and of course it has been jailbroken. But now Google has released the Android Kernel source code.



The fact that Google has released the source code for Glass should come as no great surprise in that it is based on Android and Android is open source. Even so, it is only quite recently that the fact that Glass was Android based has become known. The Kernel source code is currently available from a special Google Code web page but it will be moved to the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) Web site any day now. 

Equally important as the Kernel source code being released is the news that it had allegedly been rooted at least twice. However, soon after the news broke, Stephen Lau, a Google engineer, commented:

"Not to bring anybody down... but seriously... we intentionally left the device unlocked so you guys could hack it and do crazy fun shit with it.  I mean, FFS, you paid $1500 for it... go to town on it.  Show me something cool."

It seems that Google wants its experimenters to work with the Kernel and load modified versions of it into the hardware. In this case the extra efforts to "root" the device were, and are, unnecessary and the slow release of the source code was an error because someone went on holiday. 

Preliminary investigations of the Android system running on Glass indicated that it is a fairly standard version with nothing stripped out and Glass functionality running on top. So much so that it is possible to run standard Android apps on them 

There are some new items of news about Glass. First the hardware spec has been refined by Jay Lee  via the USB debugging setting: 

It's running Android 4.0.4 - Ice Cream Sandwich - just as Larry Page said
* It's an OMAP 4430 CPU - Dual Core? - Having trouble finding exact mhz
* There's 682mb of RAM (678052kb reported in /proc/meminfo). Kernel messages lead me to believe it's actually 1gb but some is being used for other hardware purposes

On the software side there is a report on Reddit that the included companion app, the one that runs on the associated Android phone, has the ability to work with eye gestures - specifically a wink:



Google might have decided to keep this one quiet because the ability to take a photo with just the wink of an eye might be regarded as a privacy issue or just plain creepy. 


So what does it all mean?

The first look at the Mirror API was disappointing to some because it was a very high-level way of creating client-server apps for Glass. Most of the clever stuff had to be done on the server with Glass just acting as an I/O device. Now that we have the Kernel code, and clues that there might be additional features available on the hardware, things are looking more interesting.

Given that the OS is a fairly standard version of Android, and the Mirror API is just sitting above all of the usual Android APIs, opens up the possibility to work with Glass at a lower level. There are some very real questions about how much processing power you can rely on and it just might be that for most applications the Mirror API is all you need. 



More Information

Temporary Kernel Download


Steven Lau On Google Leaving Glass Open

Reddit Post on Companion App

Mike DiGiovanni On Running Android Apps

Related Articles

Google Glass API Full Details       

Google Glass The Mirror API - How It Works

Google I/O 2013 Website Opens With Lots Of Fun       

Opportunity To Become a Glass Explorer 

Google Glass Developer Events       

Sight - A Short Movie About Future AR

Google Glass - The Microsoft Version

Google Glass - How it Could Be



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Last Updated ( Monday, 29 April 2013 )