LAST year Google whet the appetites of geeks everywhere when it announced that it had developed Google Glass, a pair of web-connected smart glasses that could take photos and videos, and display information gleaned from the internet. The firm said it would launch a public trial of the voice-controlled specs with a small group of developers early in 2013. On February 20th it announced that it now wants a broader group of people to join the developers peering into the future using its new technology.
The company has launched a website for folk who want to apply to test the Explorer trial version of its glasses and who are willing to cough up $1,500 for the privilege of having them. It has also posted a video (see below) that shows how the specs can be used in various situations, including navigating on a road and taking photos of memorable moments. Data and images are displayed on a tiny screen that appears at the top of a person’s field of vision. This is mounted in a flexible frame that also incorporates a camera, a microphone and a computer.
Although its new gadget is still in its early stages and has plenty of room for improvement (not least in the design of the bulky arm that houses its battery), Google is clearly hoping that a broader field test will help it to iron out imperfections faster, as well as stoke interest in the device. It says it is looking for a diverse group of guinea pigs willing to share their experiences with the gizmo via social media.
The web giant's move is another sign that the nascent market for wearable technology is developing fast. Other companies such as Japan’s Olympus are also experimenting with smart goggles and there is much interesting work being done to shrink displays even further, as Babbage has noted elsewhere. There has also been plenty of action recently in the market for smart watches that link wirelessly to people’s smartphones. Rumours have been flying that Apple and Samsung are working on web-connected timepieces and Google has also filed a patent that suggests its Glass technology could be used on wrists too. Small start-ups such as Pebble are busily churning out smart watches as fast as they can. All of this is definitely worth keeping an eye on.