Google Glass Explorer Edition

Google's Project Glass got more real last week when Google showed off its prototype, Google Glass Explorer Edition, at the Google I/O conference. Here's everything we know about Google Glass so far.

CNET's Rafe Needleman tries on the Google Glass Explorer Edition.
(Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET)

While they're not the full-on, head-up-display glasses that was previewed in the Project Glass demo video below, they will offer some interesting functionality.

What are they?

Google Glass Explorer Edition is the first product to come out of the company's Project Glass. At its most basic level, the Glass is a device that lets you show and interact with the world around you, without disconnecting from it.

The Glass is designed to be out of the way, so it doesn't interfere with your activity. According to Google, it weighs less than most sunglasses. On the side is a touch pad for control, on top is a button for shooting photos and videos with the built-in camera, and there's a small information display positioned above the eye, just out of the line of sight.

The actual spec details that were given were pretty light, other than to say that it has a camera, multiple radios for data communication, a speaker and a mic and a gyroscope, so the Glass can tell your position and orientation, at all times.

What can I do with them?

While they may eventually lead you through every aspect of your waking life, in their current state of development, it looks like you'll be able to do things such as have Google+ Hangouts, live-stream video, snap pictures or shoot some movies and share what you capture with little effort. Google search is almost certain to be part of its early capabilities, as well.

What's it like to wear them?

CNET's own Rafe Needleman was one of the first journalists to get hands-on (heads-on?) with the prototype Google Glass product. Rafe was allowed to try on the prototype glasses, offered by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. He reports:

The glasses have audio output to the right ear only, and there's no ear bud — the sound just leaks into space. Best practice is to cup your hand over your ear and the glasses temple, to amplify the sound. This works well, and Brin says the social gesture of cupping your hand over your ear alerts people near you that you are paying attention to the device.

Disabled were all the really cool features — SMS, alerts and the capability to read Brin's email. Brin says that he has his glasses set up to not bother him with email text. He gets an audible alert when a high-priority email comes in, and only if he looks up (tilts his head up) does the message display.

The titanium-framed glasses headset was comfortable and very light. I had to take off my prescription lenses to wear the Google Glasses, but Google designer Isabelle Olsson (a former eyewear designer) says the company is working with glasses manufacturers, to serve glasses-wearing users.

Want now! When can I get mine?

Not anytime soon. The Google Glass Explorer Edition is only available to developers as a pre-order for US-based I/O attendees for US$1500, and they won't receive them until early 2013. Brin has said that consumers can expect Google Glass to become available in 2014.

When will the Android app be available to use with my Google Nexus 7 tablet?

Pay attention. These are not available for consumers yet, and probably won't be for some time. For now, we'll all just have to wait.


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