Google I/O: Google Glass detailed

June 27, 2012

Google Chief Executive Sergey Brin took a turn onstage Wednesday at the company’s developers conference, showing off the latest news from the Google Glass team.

The big announcement: Google Glass will be available for pre-order to U.S.-based developers — not consumers — who attended the show and will cost $1,500. The devices will be shipped early next year to those early developers who want to try it out.

Google Glass, for those who need a refresher course, is Google’s, well, glasses, which act as a heads-up display and a video camera that can broadcast exactly what a user is seeing.

This was no small demonstration — Brin showed off the technology by giving Glass prototypes to a few skydivers who orchestrated a jump to the San Francisco convention center, Moscone West, where Google is hosting the conference.

The jump was documented with a Google+ Hangout, which let those watching the conference see the jump through the eyes of the parachuters, as well as a few stunt bikers and one man rappelling down the side of the building.

Brin stressed early that Glass is in the early stages of development and that there could be several glitches in the demo. The demonstration went off largely without a hitch, which Brin said later in the presentation was really surprising to him.

Members of the Glass team showed off different colors of the glasses — Brin held a blue version, team lead Babak Parviz had a black version and others wore silver.

Google designer Isabelle Olsson said that the company purposefully positioned the display slightly above the users’ eyeline so that it doesn’t get in the way.

“We want to empower people to use this technology naturally,” she said. The device weighs “less than many sunglasses,” she said. Olsson also showed some different possible configurations for the device, such as a version that clipped on to a users’ existing glasses.

Parviz said that the device is great for parents who want to record moments with their kids, because it offers the first “first-person point of view” device. Olsson said that first-person view can make content such as pictures or video much more personal and emotional.

The Glass team also shared their hope that Google Glass will be so fast that users can look up information almost instantly to have it overlaid onto what they’re seeing, to get richer information about the things around them.

There weren’t many details on how, exactly, the devices work. The presentation concentrated on what the glasses can do, but it isn’t clear, for example, how a user can start recording, choose to take a picture or search for information.

Related stories:

Google announces new tablet, Nexus 7

Sergey Brin spotted wearing Google Glasses prototype

Nexus Q: Google’s streaming entertainment hub

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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