You may have heard of Google Glass, and you might have seen one of their videos on YouTube. But what is Glass, really?
The premise is straight out of sci-fi: it’s a pair of glasses that turns the whole world into your computer. The Google Glass eyepiece mounts a small transparent screen in the upper-right-hand corner of the user’s vision. Users can speak to the device using commands like “Ok Glass, take a picture,” or by touching the small touchpad on the side of the device. The device also contains a small camera capable of recording video or taking pictures. Glass can store 16 Gigabytes of information, though it also uses WiFi to sync its information with Google’s cloud.
While Glass may not be available for the general public just yet, certain specialty professions are experimenting with the device. One notable field is in healthcare, where doctors can use the device to provide additional hands-free information during surgery and other operations requiring their hands. When the consumer version is released, Google’s promotional videos promise the device can be used for thousands of other applications, including providing directions while hiking, or even schematics while doing computer repair or auto maintenance.
Glass was first announced in early 2012 and began testing that year. Google used its “Explorer” program to determine the lucky several-thousand who got to test the device early. The Explorer edition cost $1,500, although the consumer edition is slated to be much less.
There has been some controversy over the device, specifically its ability to record people without their knowledge and to run facial-recognition software. Google maintains that it considers these security risks, and so far Explorers have not run into any significant problems. Nevertheless, some businesses have put up “No Glass” signs, most notably casinos.
Google is working with optics manufacturers like Ray-Ban or Warby Parker to make more stylish versions. Rumors have also been circling considering a modular glass system to allow users to use their own prescription glass in the device.
So when can you get your hands on one of these magical devices? There’s no current release date set, with Google only saying “Early 2014,” so expect to wait at least six months before wowing your friends with the high-tech headgear.