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Possible future Google Glass lessons in Trulia's app

Can Google Glass make the banal exciting? Trulia's new real estate Glass app could foretell part of the future of the wearable Internet.

Trulia for Glass video on Vimeo.

From aiding first responders to real-time language translation, Google Glass has software developers excited for the potential of wearable computing. But the true test of success for Glass may be how quickly it's adapted to more commonplace uses, such as helping real estate listing company Trulia sell and rent properties.

"It's an exploration tool," said Jeff McConathy, Trulia's vice president of consumer engineering, of his company's in-development app during a visit to CNET's San Francisco office. "It's not about deeply engaging with the content, it's about doing something fresh."

Trulia's app is almost remarkably simple. It notifies you when you're near an open house that meets your search criteria, such as price range, neighborhood, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms; provides directions to a house; it lets you view property listings; reads a description of the property to you; and lets you save the listing to your Trulia Mobile account. You can also e-mail or call the real estate agent for the property directly from Glass.

McConathy said that one of his goals when he built the app was to ensure that Trulia's users saw only relevant information. "I didn't want to overwhelm you with blatant property data. It should just be a nice add-on" to the company's mobile app features, he said.

The importance of curating what his users would want to see right in front of their faces, instead of showing them the more typical firehose stream of Internet data that people get in their apps, could become a key determinant in what makes one Glassware app successful while other competitors fail.

McConathy said that he was the sole developer for Trulia's Glassware. "We kind of did it as a skunkworks project. It wasn't a massive undertaking," he said. "When we go prime-time we'll probably have a small team dedicated."

Another lesson there: developing for Glass likely will take far fewer resources than building a standard mobile app because the Glassware version will have fewer features.

McConathy wouldn't give a timeline for when Trulia's app will be ready, although he said that all that's left is for him to "tie together" the app's database. He said that the app probably will be part of a new wave of apps due before the beginning of July.