As Google I/O gets ready to kick off Wednesday, there’s a lot of buzz about what’s in store for Glass, in particular which new apps Google will let onto the so far bare-bones platform. At least one developer, however, is vying for a spot on glass, but not to offer up any kind of new game or service. Instead Open Garden wants to change how Glass – and eventually any wearable — connects to the Internet.
Open Garden is trying to build a mesh network for mobile devices that does away with the notion that a single device must connect to the internet through a pre-defined path. Instead it’s created tablet, smartphone and PC software that will allow their host devices to crowdsource their connections by forming ad hoc mesh networks with other Open Garden devices. Collectively those clients determine which device or devices have the best connections to the internet – whether its 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi or Ethernet – and route traffic through those links.
It’s a hard notion for many people to grasp since we tend think of our connections as individual property, but Open Garden is trying to change that mindset. If everyone shares their connection, then everyone’s link to the network is optimized. Open Garden co-founder and CEO Micha Benoliel believes that Google Glass is an ideal candidate to demonstrate that principle.
Open Garden has succeeded in installing its networking software for Glass, which means the wearable can now act as a node in a larger mesh. The setup has an immediate advantage for Glass owners: they don’t need to pair Glass to their Android devices through Bluetooth or subscribe to a tethering plan from their operators. The Open Garden client makes the connection automatically over Wi-Fi.
But the bigger implication is that Glass could eventually become part of a larger networked community ranging far beyond its owner’s personal constellation of devices. A Glass user, for instance, might be able to leave his smartphone at home or in his office. Instead of losing connectivity, the Google headgear would search out other Open Garden devices – even other Glass units — hopping from node to node until it wended its way onto a mobile or broadband network.
To make its software work on Glass, Open Garden had to do more than just tap into the Mirror API. Benoliel said Open Garden’s developers had to delve deeper into the Android kernel to gain access to its networking functions, which will make distributing its software all but impossible when Glass becomes generally available to the public. But Benoliel is hoping Google will see the advantage of making Glass part of the larger mesh and is lobbying the search giant to clear the way for its app.