The Internet giant’s co-founder, Sergey Brin, ran onstage sporting a prototype of the Orwellian device in the middle of Google’s annual software developers conference asking, “Who wants to see a demo of Glass?” and the crowd roared, “Yes!”
The Google Glass project puts computer-processing power, a camera, microphone, wireless communications and a tiny screen into a pair of super-cool-looking, lightweight glasses. For now, the “smart” glasses can display images and video and have a button that can be used for taking pictures. Ultimately, the company hopes the glasses will be able to access information in real time, including the ability to identify locations and provide additional information about your whereabouts.
In a high-octane demonstration of the technology, several skydivers wearing the glasses jumped out of an airship and landed on the roof of San Francisco’s Moscone Center, sharing a live video of the stunt with the crowd.
Brin spoke with the team — who could see him in their glasses — via a Google+ Hangouts video-conferencing session through the social-networking site. An estimated 6,000 conference attendees viewed the whole thing on the big screen inside the center.
With the futuristic specs, “Google has managed to do something that doesn’t copy Apple,” says Forrester analyst James McQuivey. “The staging was way beyond anything we’ve seen.”
Google says the specs weigh less than many sunglasses on the nose and are intended to deliver information without having to scramble for a smartphone. The company envisions a day that information is delivered so quickly, people feel as if they know the answers to things right away.
But the glasses aren’t yet ready for consumers. Google needs software developers to help unlock the digital promise of the glasses, so it offered the devices to U.S.-based Google I/O attendees for $1,500, with plans to ship the glasses by early next year.
“This is really new technology. We want to get it out into the hands of passionate people” as early as possible, said Brin.
With the stunt-laden event, Google is trying change perceptions of the company from that of an algorithmic, engineering-focused place to one that’s got more of a human side, McQuivey says.
The battery is smaller than a smartphone battery, but Google is working on ways to make the battery charge last for a full day.
Brin said he expects the glasses to be available to consumers less than a year after the developer version is available.
Google is still experimenting with various aspects of the glasses, including potentially providing directions on the screen and the ability to have the glasses speak out text messages, Brin said.
He said, in response to a question, that there are no plans to offer any kind of advertising on the device.
Google also unveiled its first tablet which it will start selling from mid-July for $199, hoping to replicate its smartphone success in a hotly contested market now dominated by Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle Fire and Apple Inc’s iPad.