Google Glass and wpForGlass usher in a new wave of real-time publishing

Video overview of my time using Google Glass + wpForGlass on the CES 2014 show floor. Production credit: Ashley Trenkle.

At CES 2013, my team at Engadget covered just about everything that emerged in the world of consumer electronics. I’ve always been a big fan of streamlined workflows, and our process was about as lean as one could get it. Even still, the typical process of capturing and publishing an article about a newly launched product requires a fair amount of back-and-forth. Just to give you an idea, it works (roughly) as such:

  • Take a series of photos
  • Find a chair (more likely, a spot on the floor)
  • Pull out a laptop and a memory card reader
  • Offload photos onto said laptop for processing
  • Upload an ideal shot to a web-based publishing tool
  • Compose a headline, body text, tags, etc., and finally mash the publish button

Again, that’s an ideal scenario. Along the way, any number of things can go wrong, from a misfire on the white balance setting to an inability to secure a decent internet connection.

This year, I tackled CES from a slightly different angle. As a part of Weber Shandwick’s team, I arrived in Las Vegas with Google Glass. It was to be my primary lens to view CES through, and also, my primary publishing tool. Thanks to the work of Ozzy Farman, a Glass plugin entitled wpForGlass exists. In a nutshell, this enables Glass to take any photo or video that’s captured and upload that media (along with a bit of transcribed spoken text) directly to a WordPress-based site. In other words, anyone with Glass, this free wpForGlass plugin, and a WordPress blog can publish content to a blog without ever touching a smartphone or laptop.

In my workflow, I tethered Glass to my iPhone 5s over Bluetooth. This enabled my phone’s LTE data connection to be used by Glass for the purposes of uploading media as well as translating my spoken phrases into text. The installation instructions can be found here, and once you’re up and running, the process is easy.

Simply snap a photo or video; add a caption if you like; tap ‘Share’ and then select the wpForGlass option. A process for capturing a shot and sharing it with the world on a blog — something that should take a minimum of 10 minutes — now takes less than 10 seconds.
I tested wpForGlass over four days in Las Vegas, where over 100,000 people converged to be a part of the International Consumer Electronics Show. The mobile networks here are pushed to the brink each time CES kicks off, and yet, wpForGlass uploaded every single shot (seriously, 100 percent of them) I took without ever crashing or failing. On occasion, my attempt to add a caption would fail due to a sluggish connection with Google’s transcription servers, but that was the extent of my frustrations.

Of course, rapid-fire photo uploading isn’t ideal for every situation. For many reporters, tossing up an unedited photo with a one-liner isn’t going to suffice. But for many instances, this new method is perfectly acceptable. Plenty of CES mayhem needs little more than a snap reaction, and the frictionless process enables even more sharing. Once Glass develops into a more significant tool — one that can edit and optimize photos on the fly, for instance — the promise here will grow even more.
It’s already possible to use Glass as well as a smartphone to snap a photo, hammer out a one-line description, and share via any number of social networks. But being able to push this directly to a WordPress blog is a useful wrinkle. Because each post generates an entry within a WordPress back-end, fellow reporters on the proverbial home front could constantly be on the lookout for new snapshots; from there, they could enter the post using a laptop and flesh out the accompanying text — all while the Glass-equipped photographer roams the floor and captures more content in a non-distracted manner. In other words, wpForGlass could very well enable an entirely new way to collaborate when it comes to getting stories up more quickly and building them out using multiple editors.

As someone who appreciates the tool from both sides of the equation, I’m excited to see where this leads. Small imaging sensors — the ones found within smartphones and wearables — are quickly becoming stout enough to replace point-and-shoot cameras. One has to imagine that in a few more years, they’ll be advanced enough to stand in for larger cameras in all but the most unique of circumstances.

If you’re interested in learning more about wpForGlass, click here. A gallery of my favorite CES 2014 shots through Glass can be found here.

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