It is nearly two years since Google took the wraps of Glass, its ambitious smart glasses project, and said it was aiming to put them on sale by the end of 2013.
Ray-Bans via Instagram
Google has been working hard lately to dampen the constant, rumbling criticism of Glass. First, it issued guidelines on etiquette for its pioneering wearable gadget, warning early adopters: “Don’t be a glasshole.”
Then last week, it decided that the people buying its $1,500 headset weren’t glassholes after all, trying to dispel ten “myths” about the prototype product: Glass really isn’t a “distraction from the real world” or “the perfect surveillance device”, it insisted in a blogpost.
The ground suitably prepared, Google has now made a much more meaningful step towards mainstream acceptance: it is partnering with the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley frames to make Glass fashionable.
Credit to CaixaBank.
While its counterparts still mainly “interface” with customers on-the go through basic ATMs, the Spanish lender has come up with apps for the latest smartwatches and Google Glass.
Google is expanding the number of people who can get hold of Glass, as the FT reported late last year. Now a few friends of each of its first “Explorers” and selected other developers can purchase the experimental wearable device.
With all those new lenses wandering around, it hasn’t escaped Google’s notice that its wearers are getting “a lot of attention”. Google has talked to its existing community of Explorers for some tips on how to deal with the rest of the world, finally acknowledging that it can look “pretty weird”.
You’re wearing Google Glass. A stranger walks past in a T-shirt emblazoned with a QR code. Suddenly, your world changes: images you didn’t expect start appearing on the tiny Glass screen above your eye. It quickly becomes clear that someone has taken complete control of your eyewear.
Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.
Only a lucky group of applicants was selected to participate in testing the Explorer version of Google Glass. As early reviews started to trickle out this week, so too did a growing backlash against the “glassholes”.
While the elite of the tech world may be smitten – like Robert Scoble, who wrote he’s never taking his Google Glass off – others weren’t as easily impressed by the breakthrough in wearable computing, comparing it to overhyped tech toys such as the Segway and pocket protectors.
A new technology platform needs new apps. And new apps need funding.
So it is that two of Silicon Valley’s best-known venture capital firms – Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz – have got together with Google Ventures to offer money to developers working on ideas for Google Glass. According to Kleiner partner John Doerr, this “goes well beyond the the world of websites, documents and mobile apps”.
Google’s tablet and living-room media device, unveiled at its annual developer conference, were enough to have some Google fans and tech commentators fawning over the company. Google also stepped it up another notch with a demonstration of the prototype Google Glass and a promise to turn it into a product by early 2014, reminding us that Google still has huge technology ambition – though some were not sure sure the company was taking the right direction.
The Google Glass project is an impressive demonstration of the search company’s willingness to confront big technical challenges in pursuit of a breakthrough product. But the chances of it having a meaningful impact in the short term are not high.
That’s the conclusion I was left with after a brief test of the glasses on Wednesday – though since this is still a long way from becoming a consumer product, any judgments are highly provisional.