Google’s Project Glass: How much will glasses cost?

April 5, 2012

Google on Wednesday unveiled its “Project Glass,” augmented reality glasses that will be able to display chats, maps and more. The Verge says that it seems like the glasses are “past the concept phase.”

Speaking to [Nick] Bilton, someone who has used the glasses said, "They let technology get out of your way. If I want to take a picture I don’t have to reach into my pocket and take out my phone; I just press a button at the top of the glasses and that’s it." In late February, Nick Bilton reported that "Google employees familiar with the project" confirmed the glasses would be available to the public for around $250 to $600 dollars by the end of 2012. At Wired, Steven Levy says that Project Glass "is very far from public beta," and that an end of year product launch is "extremely unlikely."

The Post’s Hayley Tsukayama looks at whether the glasses are great or a gimmick.

Google, it should be noted, is not the first company to come up with the idea of augmented reality glasses, but would have a perhaps unprecedented consumer reach.

Plus, they’ve made them look kind of cool The pictures on the Project Glass page show people modeling the specs, a thin silver band that runs across their foreheads and a small screen over their right eye. To someone of the generation that grew up with Terminator (or DragonBall Z), the device looks strange but oddly familiar. In the video that accompanies the pictures, viewers follow a man around on his augmented day, in which he wears the device while eating breakfast and while meeting with a friend.

It kind of makes you wonder what that world will look like if these devices take off.

The ability to follow walking directions without having to look down at your phone is an appealing one, as is the idea of in-view video chat. As a person with relatives who live across the country and overseas, I like the idea of being able to share a particularly nice view or quick tour of a new apartment with my grandparents.

On the other hand, I’ve always been a people watcher. And here in D.C., there’s a game I play, which I’ve dubbed, “Bluetooth or crazy?” The rules are simple: Whenever you see a person walking down the street talking to themselves, you try to determine if they’re on a wireless headset or if they’re just muttering to themselves. (I should note here that I have been both kinds of people.)

The man in the video Google released kept his glasses on the whole time. To me, that’s a telling component of the demonstration.

In the way that I envision how I would use the product, I’d take it off when I met a friend for coffee, much in the same way I put my cellphone down. I’d fold them up in the bookstore, like I do my sunglasses. I’d set them aside to do my work, like I do with my wireless headset. In fact, it’s hard for me, a gadget lover if ever there was one, to think of a device I would want to wear on my head at all times.

Obviously, it’s hard to say what the product will be like from a few minutes of video and some glossy press shots. For now, I’m guessing that the technology we see in Google’s Project Glass will become useful in other ways, for other, possibly similar, products, and that this first iteration of the idea will be one of those products that we remember as something that could have changed the way we live.

VentureBeat.com reports on why Google decided to give us a peek of the glasses now:

“We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input,” Google’s Babak Parviz, Steve Lee, and Sebastian Thrun wrote on a new Google+ page for the project.  “So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do.”

Google is doing its best to give the glasses some fashion appeal by featuring rejected Gap models in its promo shots, but they still seem too obtrusive for most consumers. Google is also exploring different designs for the glasses, including some that could fit over your existing glasses, reports the New York Times.

While it may seem like the glasses will add yet another layer of digital distraction to our lives, Google employees say it will actually do the opposite. One person testing the glasses told the NYT: “They let technology get out of your way. If I want to take a picture I don’t have to reach into my pocket and take out my phone; I just press a button at the top of the glasses and that’s it.”

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