Google has made it official. The company announced plans to launch a “fully polished” version of Google Glass, a wearable headset combining Internet exploration with fashion, to the consumer market by the end of the year, the Internet giant told the Verge. The glasses will be priced less than $1,500.
That’s in line with a date the New York Times floated a year ago, citing several anonymous Google employees familiar with the project. The publication indicated the glasses would be priced in the range of current smartphones, anywhere from $250 to $600.
Last June, Google launched a pre-order sale for developers for early releases of “the Explorer” edition for $1,500 each, with delivery scheduled for the early part of this year. Earlier this week, Google opened up its preorders to “creative individuals” who post the best 50 words or less response to the hashtag #ifihadglass.
The glasses enable the next step in ubiquitous computing, where computers and online access are abundantly available everywhere and can easily be controlled through voice or movement commands. The frames feature a tiny screen, much bigger from the user’s perspective, and can be used to view the Internet, interact with a video call, take videos or photos with a simple voice command, post the content online or send to friends, use language translations, or view walking directions.
Google posted a video this week that should serve as some inspiration. It shows someone on a hot air balloon ride shooting and streaming video, videos of fashion models walking the runway for a first hand perspective, a teacher Skyping with his class while riding in a stunt plane.
Though high tech, the glasses, as wearable fashion accessories, naturally need to look cool. The company is reportedly negotiating a design contract with trendy eyeglass manufacturer Warby Parker to make sure users don’t end up looking like geeks.
They have their work cut out for them. San Francisco bartenders have been known to make fun of nerdy looking Google Glass owners who wear them while ordering beer.
One nerd who doesn’t seem to mind, however, is Mark Zuckerburg. He and Google’s Sergey Brin met up at the launch of the Breakthrough Prize For Life Sciences, and had an informal business meeting in an auditorium’s back corner in UCSF’s Genentech Hall, Forbes reported. Zuckerburg tried on Brin’s glasses, and said “I can’t wait to get a pair of my own,” and the two discussed development possibilities for Google Glass. Facebook already has a three engineer team led by a former Google employee ready to start building applications for the product.
But even Zuckerburg had a concern for fashion.
“How do you look out from this without looking awkward?” Zuckerburg asked Brin. “You know, how are you supposed to use these without breaking eye contact?”
Google will get back to you on that.