Google Glass is now an official product, with help pages, an Android app and semi-detailed specifications - but there's still no word of a retail launch.
Google has finally revealed the formal specifications of its Google Glass, wearable computer project.
First unveiled in April last year under the codename Project Glass, Google Glass is a wearable computing platform that takes the form of a one-size-fits-all glasses frame with small head-up display module. According to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, it's the solution to something he has claimed as a real problem: smartphone addiction, that constant nervous twitch to be looking down at the screen to see what witty bon mots
your Twitter followees are currently spreading.
'The cellphone is a nervous habit. If I smoked, I'd probably smoke instead. In addition to potentially socially isolating yourself when you are out and about using your phone, I feel it is kind of emasculating,
' Brin told the audience at a brief TED Conference appearance in February this year. 'That is why we put the [Google Glass] display up high, out of the line of sight. If I wore a ball cap, the display would be on the brim and not where you are looking, and sound goes through bones in the cranium, which is a little freaky at first, but you get used to it.
While it sounds more like a recipe for causing
addiction than curing it, Google is going ahead with plans to release the device, making it available for the princely sum of $1,500 to specially-chosen early adopters who can sign up for the Google Glass Explorer Programme. The release date for a cheaper version for the general public is set to be the end of the year.
What Google had not shared, however, was the system's specifications, asking those it had invited to participate in the programme to part with their cash sight-unseen. That's an oversight it's now looking to correct, publishing the first public specifications for the hardware on its website
Google Glass Specs
The Android-powered wearable computing platform will, Google has revealed, have a five megapixel camera capable of recording video at 720p resolution. Audio, as Brin promised, is handled through a bone conduction transducer that transfers the vibrations required through the wearer's bone matter - meaning it cannot be drowned out by ambient noise, and is inaudible to anyone not in direct contact with the headset.
The system includes 16GB of storage, of which 12GB is accessible to the user and synchronised with Google's cloud storage platform for access on any web-connected device. Google Glass's own connectivity is handled via 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, with no integrated mobile support; instead, users are asked to use Bluetooth to share a mobile data connection from a smartphone or tablet.
Those looking to get the most from the platform will need an Android smartphone or tablet running 4.0.3 'Ice-Cream Sandwich' or better, which enables SMS messaging support and GPS location data. While it's possible to connect the Glass hardware to other Bluetooth-enabled smartphones, Google warns this won't provide an optimal experience.
What Google has yet to share is the processor or memory available on the platform, but it does have a few other facts up its sleeve: the 640x320 resolution head-up display module provides the equivalent experience to looking at a 25in high-definition monitor from a distance of eight feet, while the one-size-fits-all frame comes with extra nosepads in two different sizes. Finally, the device is claimed to offer a full day of usage via a single charge from its micro-USB connection, although the company warns that using Google+ Hangouts or video recording will drain the battery faster.
Elsewhere, the company has published documentation for its Google Mirror application programming interface (API)
to offer advice to developers on how they can make use of the Google Glass hardware from web-based services dubbed 'Glassware.' Interestingly, there's one usage which has been strictly forbidden by Google: the use of the Mirror API to display advertising on the head-up display integrated into Google Glass, with developers being pushed away from advertising as a means of generating income from their projects.
Finally, Google has published the MyGlass companion app
on Google Play, providing those well-heeled few who are part of the beta test a means of unlocking the capabilities of their new toy. 'If you don't have Glass, then downloading this will be a waste of time. Sorry about that,
' the page on Google Play warns. 'But if you swipe the screenshots to the right you'll see there's a picture of a puppy in pajamas. So not a total waste of time after all.
Google Glass Price and Release Date
Thus far, Google has not indicated a timescale for a full retail release of Project Glass, except to say that it hopes to have the device on the open market by the end of the year - at which point, it is hoped, it will cost closer to that of a mid-range Android smartphone than the laptop-esque $1,500 price tag the Explorer Edition fetches.