Those in the US lucky enough to be accepted for the Google Glass Explorer Edition won’t have to wait much longer for their hefty $1500 smart specs. Google has announced the first batch are complete and will be shipped hot off the production line. Glass Pioneers will be notified in the next few days with the specific details as units begin to ship.
The specifications for Google Glass have also been released today. As seen from the demos Glass features voice and touch controls via the frame leg. The frame will be a one size fits all, with adjustable nose pads. The high resolution display will be equivalent of a 25″ HD screen 8′ away. Glass will have a 5MP camera and record 720p video. There is 12GB of flash storage space available which will also be synchronised to Google cloud storage. Audio is provided by a bone conductor transducer (that we seen patented last year) so you’ll be the only one hearing what those smart specs are telling you about those around you.
Glass will connect via Wifi or Bluetooth to a Android 4.0.3 device running the MyGlass companion app (No announcement on iPhone availability). GPS and SMS functionality are currently provided through the tethered device running MyGlass. We did wonder where the SIM card would fit anyway. No details have been provided on battery specs other than typical use for the day is supported. Glass will come with it’s own micro USB cable and charger.
A web based Glass setup page is now also online. Terms and conditions must be agreed to that Glass may use location information and automatically upload your photos and videos to Google+ Instant Album. There is also a QR code to start the sync process right away. The MyGlass app can also be used for setup, and to allow Glass to access SMS messages and location information on the device.
Google has also released the Mirror API for Glass to developers giving them a head start to get apps ready for Glass. Google has asked developers to release software via an official Glass distribution store not yet open to the public. Interestingly the current Glass terms of service (TOS) prohibit the use of advertising, charging for an app or use of in-app payments. That sounds a great user experience! I guess those hard working dev’s will be pleased to roll up their sleeves for the next few months with no promise of monetary reward to pay the rent? Should these TOS stick in the long run we could see a very different app landscape for glass over what we currently have for Android. I’m thinking early days of the Android Market filled with poor and incomplete student projects and apps from big corporations that were thin on content. It could also be a short term measure to ensure the very best user experience and increased adoption in the short term of this new technology. Perhaps dev’s could take a LAYAR approach for monetization, HUD directions to the nearest bank would allow users to unlock app features?
There has also been trouble brewing in the anti-glass camp. There have been quite a few stories in the past few months detailing banning Glass when driving, entering public areas and in the extreme how to jam Glass radio frequencies from recording you. Several sources have detailed it’s misuse by perverts and that our national privacy it doomed. At this rate it may be easier to carry a (licensed) gun than to wear Glass in public. You might well need one, wearable computing pioneer Steve Mann has worked on his own smart specs for over two decades. Last year he was assaulted while dining in Paris when he refused to remove his camera eyewear (that he actually required to see). It seems we’ve all dubbed ourselves terribly important and our every move is worth another’s scrutiny? Google’s lawyers have been busy writing the Glass TOS that forbid using Glass where it could cause death, injuries, or environmental damage, with nuclear facilities as one of the examples (I can imagine a future Simpsons episode on this…).
Google Glass could still be targeted for release for the end of the year, the race to market is heating up now. Google is playing it’s plans close to it’s chest. The success of Glass rides on what developers can create for it. While several ideas sound good, in every day experience they may fail. Glass may be Android based but it’s not been open sourced for other manufacturers to meddle with. Several other companies have also announced smart glasses in development from Microsoft to Chinese search giant Baidu. Given the increased competition Google has seen from Samsung, Android’s fragmentation issues and Google’s increasing hardware portfolio, Google may keep Glass for itself this time around. Looking at the existing integration with Google+ don’t expect Facebook Home for Glass…ever.