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Oct. 24, 2013 8:30 am

Sunshade: world’s first Google (sun)Glass add-on comes from South Jersey

Chris Barrett realized pretty quickly that the Google Glass prism is heavily and easily diluted against sunlight. This is what he created to solve that.

This is a guest post from Chris Barrett, the founder of startup marketing firm PRserve.com and a frequent writer on Google Glass.

I conceived the idea behind Sunshade, the first hardware add-on for better visibility with Google Glass, during my first summer with the buzzy wearable technology.

I realized pretty quickly that the Glass prism allows you to interact with its software by projecting transparent graphics, which are heavily and easily diluted against sunlight. Outdoors, I found myself frequently using my thumb to cover the back of the prism, to provide the necessary contrast I needed to see Glass clearly. Indoors, I caught myself turning away from windows and staring at walls, just to see what I was doing. Since Glass is supposed to be hands-free, it was a nuisance to have to constantly cover up the prism. I tried to wear a hat with Glass, using the brim’s shade to help me see, but, obviously, this solution was not ideal either.

Print your own Sunshade through Shapeways (at cost) here. Download the project’s source code here [.zip].

I knew there had to be a better way, so I started brainstorming solutions with tech-savvy friends. I decided what Glass really needs is an accessory that helps it perform in sunlight, the same way we need sunglasses to help us see at the beech. Since Glass is still in development and Glass add-ons are even further away, a friend recommended I utilize 3D printing technology to design and create Sunshade for Glass myself.

I didn’t have any hands-on 3D printing knowledge, so I reached out to maker space Next Fab Studio on Washington Avenue via Twitter. I shared my idea with the team and got the chance to tour the studio and see the technology in action. It was an incredible glimpse into the future and I learned so much about 3D printing’s potential. The Next Fab team was excited to help me realize my idea. Over the next few weeks, we worked on developing the perfect Sunshade design. After three prototypes, Sunshade 1.0 was born. I’m now thrilled to open-source the Sunshade 1.0 code, so anyone with Google Glass can print his or her own Sunshade and dramatically improve the Google Glass experience.

The more I used my own Sunshade, the more I realized its hidden potential. When I first received Glass, before I developed Sunshade, people would notice the prism’s light and frequently stop me to ask questions. Sometimes it’s fun to chat with strangers, but (many) other times it’s not. Sunshade conceals Glass’ light, so now, when I’m wearing Glass in public, I attract a lot less attention. In the future, with more and more people wearing Google Glass, covering the bright light will likely become a fundamental part of Glass etiquette. With Sunshade, speakers at conferences won’t be distracted by 1000s of bright lights in the audience. Your boss won’t suspect you of checking your email while you’re in a meeting either.

Without the obvious light, Glass will become almost as discreet as an ordinary pair of glasses. I’m sure when Google Glass is released in 2014 Incase and other cell phone case companies will develop a market for Glass Covers.  I think that people will be wearing their businesses logo on their prism cover or even wearing their favorite sports teams logos on their Glass.

Which is why I believe that, when Google Glass is finally released to the public, Sunshades will be as popular as Ray-Bans.

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