This week Google launched a new online portal that sheds more light on its wearable technology previously labeled Project Glass, now called Google Glass. The search giant and Android maker first unveiled Glass in April 2012 to much fanfare in the tech crowd. Later in July at Google I/O 2012 the company brought it back on stage to keep the hype going. Pictures were posted and some specs floated around, but Google kept its intriguing concept still truly under wraps. And although it still hasn’t announced a hard release date or price, Google has officially lifted the veil on what exactly Glass can do in its current stage of production and the company is giving ordinary people the chance to experience Glass first-hand this year.
In a string of high resolution images, Google shares Glass’ user interface off in its most up-to-date version for the first time. Place the future tech on your head like you would a pair of typical glasses and a small prism slightly protruding from the right frame projects the hardware’s UI into your right eye. The standby screen simply presents its user the current time and the words “ok glass.” That is the command that wakes Glass up and readies it for action. For example, you can say “ok glass, take a picture” and it will snap an image for you. Another command is “ok glass, record a video” and it will start recording a 10 second clip of whatever you are looking at for your perspective hands-free (you can toggle settings to extend the length of the recording if you like). Instantly you can share such media with friends via social networks like Google+. Glass can also initiate Google Hangouts with your friends, provide you with directions to a specified location (an overlay of a map with turn-by-turn directions helps you get to where you’re going), and it also gives you the ability to search on the go with your voice (“ok glass, how tall is the Brooklyn Bridge?” you might ask, for example). You can also ask Glass to translate your spoken words in another language (say, if you’re travelling internationally) and you can even respond to text messages. In its current state, Glass can connect to Android phones and iPhones via Bluetooth and take advantage of a device’s data for an on-the-go Internet connection. Still don’t know if it will ship with 3G/4G radios. It will, however, come packed with GPS to assist with directions and provide users with glanceable location-based information like flight information when you walk into an airport.
Since we last Glass at Google’s developer conference it has embraced an updated design that is lighter and stronger with a variety of color options; charcoal, tangerine, shale, cotton, and sky are the pickings. A thin metal frame houses the hardware which consists of the aforementioned prism that projects the “heads-up display” into your eye when you need it there, a built-in camera for taking pictures, recording video, and initiating Hangouts, and a there’s a small portion that rests on the side of the user’s head behind the ear; this rectangular pad serves as second way to interact with Glass in addition to voice: touch. If the situation calls for it, a user can finger-flick this surface to control Glass.
Now to the juicy part: how can you get your hands on Glass? Google has started a contest called “If I Had Glass” and people in the U.S. aged 18 or older can enter. Using Google+ or Twitter you must tell Google what you would do if you had Glass. The rules are as follows: “Your application must be 50 words or less; You must include #ifihadglass in your application; You can include up to 5 photos with your application; You can include a short video (15 secs max); [and You must] follow us on Google+ (+ProjectGlass) or Twitter (@projectglass) so that we can contact you directly.” The deadline for applications is February 27–that’s next Wednesday! Now, if you are selected as a winner you must hand Google $1500 in order to receive Glass Explorer Edition; this is the same barrier of entry in which developers and members of the press were able to sign up for Glass at I/O last year.
Google Glass is still very much a work in progress, but it’s great to see that Google is working hard at making it available to gen pop sooner rather than later. In fact, The Verge reports that Google hopes to release Glass in the marketplace this year for under $1500. But until then, experience Glass in photos and a new Glass-perspective video to get a feel for what it’s like to wear the intriguing piece of hardware. Visit www.google.com/glass/start and I’ve posted the video and some additional press shots below.
[Images via Google+]