Like The Herald Business Journal on Facebook!
The Herald of Everett, Washington
Heraldnet.com

The top local business stories in your email

Contact Us:

Josh O'Connor
Publisher
Phone: 425-339-3007
joconnor@heraldnet.com

Jody Knoblich
General Sales Manager
Phone: 425-339-3445
Fax: 425-339-3049
jknoblich@heraldnet.com

Jim Davis
Editor
Phone: 425-339-3097
jdavis@heraldnet.com

Site address:
1800 41st Street, S-300,
Everett, WA 98203

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 930
Everett, WA 98206

HBJ RSS feeds

Google’s futuristic glasses move closer to reality

Software programmers are being offered the opportunity to buy a $1,500 prototype of the Internet-connected glasses so they can help shape the technology.

SHARE: facebook Twitter icon Pinterest icon Linkedin icon Google+ icon Email icon |  PRINTER-FRIENDLY  |  COMMENTS
By Michael Liedtke
Associated Press
Published:
  • Google co-founder Sergey Brin demonstrates Google's new Glass, wearable Internet glasses, at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

    Associated Press

    Google co-founder Sergey Brin demonstrates Google's new Glass, wearable Internet glasses, at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

  • Google co-founder Sergey Brin talks on the phone as he wears Google's new Internet-connected glasses at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco on ...

    Associated Press

    Google co-founder Sergey Brin talks on the phone as he wears Google's new Internet-connected glasses at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. Google is making prototypes of the device, known as Project Glass, available to test.

  • Google co-founder Sergey Brin demonstrates Google's new Glass, wearable Internet glasses, at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

    Associated Press

    Google co-founder Sergey Brin demonstrates Google's new Glass, wearable Internet glasses, at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google helped create a world brimming with digital distractions for people spending more of their lives tethered to the Internet. It's a phenomenon that seems unlikely to change so Google is working on a way to search for information, read text messages, watch online video and post photos on social networks without having to fumble around with a hand-held device.
The breakthrough is a wearable computer -- a pair of Internet-connected glasses that Google Inc. began secretly building more than two years ago. The technology progressed far enough for Google to announce "Project Glass" in April. Now the futuristic experiment is moving closer to becoming a mass-market product.
Google announced Wednesday that it's selling a prototype of the glasses to U.S. computer programmers attending a three-day conference that ends Friday. Developers willing to pay $1,500 for a pair of the glasses will receive them early next year.
The company is counting on the programmers to suggest improvements and build applications that will make the glasses even more useful.
"This is new technology and we really want you to shape it," Google co-founder Sergey Brin told about 6,000 attendees. "We want to get it out into the hands of passionate people as soon as possible."
If all goes well, a less expensive version of the glasses is expected to go on sale for consumers in early 2014. Without estimating a price for the consumer version, Brin made it clear the glasses will cost more than smartphones.
"We do view this is as a premium sort of thing," Brin said during a question-and-answer session with reporters.
Brin acknowledged Google still needs to fix a variety of bugs in the glasses and figure out how to make the battery last longer so people can wear them all day.
Those challenges didn't deter Brin from providing conference attendees Wednesday with a tantalizing peek at how the glasses might change the way people interact with technology.
Google hired skydivers to jump out of a blimp hovering 7,000 feet above downtown San Francisco. They wore the Internet-connected glasses, which are equipped with a camera, to show how the product could unleash entirely new ways for people to share their most thrilling -- or boring -- moments. As the skydivers parachuted onto the roof of the building where the conference was held, the crowd inside was able to watch the descent through the skydivers' eyes as it happened.
"I think we are definitely pushing the limits," Brin told reporters after the demonstration. "That is our job: to push the edges of technology into the future."
The glasses have become the focal point of Brin's work since he stepped away from Google's day-to-day operations early last year to join the engineers working on ambitious projects that might once have seemed like the stuff of science fiction. Besides the Internet-connected glass, the so-called Google X lab has also developed a fleet of driverless cars that cruise roads. The engineers there also dream of building elevators that could transport people into space.
While wearing Google's glasses, directions to a destination or a text message from a friend can appear literally before your eyes. You can converse with friends in a video chat, take a photo without taking out a camera or phone or even buy a few things online as you walk around.
The glasses will likely be seen by many critics as the latest innovation that shortens attention spans and makes it more difficult for people to fully appreciate what's happening around them.
But Brin and the other engineers are hoping the glasses will make it easier for people to strike the proper balance between the virtual and physical worlds. If they realize their goal, it will seem odd in three or four years for people to be looking up and down on their phones when they could have all the digital tools they need in a pair of glasses
Isabelle Olsson, one of the engineers working on the project, said the glasses are meant to interact with people's senses, without blocking them. The display on the glasses' computer appears as a small rectangular on a rim above the right eye. During short test of the prototype glasses, a reporter for The Associated Press was able to watch a video of exploding fireworks on the tiny display screen while remaining engaged with the people around him.
The glasses seem likely to appeal to runners, bicyclists and other athletes who want to take pictures of their activities as they happen. Photos and video can be programmed to be taken at automatic intervals during any activity.
Brin said he became excited about the project when he tossed his son in the air and a picture taken by the glasses captured the joyful moment, just the way he saw it.
"That was amazing," Brin said. "There was no way I could have that memory without this device."

Story tags » HardwareInternet & CloudGoogle

MORE HBJ HEADLINES

CALENDAR

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus

Market roundup